Candidates from the 50th Congressional District share


Spanning from eastern San Diego County to the southwestern corner of Riverside County, the 50th Congressional District was previously held by Rep. Duncan D. Hunter until he resigned after pleading guilty to a corruption charge. Valley News spent time with five candidates from the field: Ammar Campa-Najjar, Nate Wilkins, Carl DeMaio, Darrell Issa and Helen Horvath. Read on to see what they had to say about their plans should they be elected to the 50th Congressional District.

Ammar Campa-Najjar
Ammar Campa-Najjar. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Ammar Campa-Najjar (D)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

I was born in east county and raised by my working-class Christian mother. Growing up with a single parent, I worked as a janitor and groundskeeper at my evangelical church to help support my family. My mother and faith inspired me to graduate from San Diego State University and pursue a life of service.

Before running for office, I worked at the White House, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and as a federal official at the U.S. Department of Labor serving working families like the ones I grew up with.

I’m tired of politicians looking down at the people I’ve looked up to my whole life. I’m running for Congress to bring some east county grit to Washington, honor my mother’s generation and help people live and retire with dignity.

Voters in my district want to live, work and retire with dignity. They want somebody who will protect their personal freedoms and individual liberties, and honor their traditions and values.

They want an independent voice in Congress who will fight for tax cuts for the middle class, veterans and small businesses – not the rich. Someone who will prioritize lowering prescription drug costs by holding pharmaceutical companies accountable; protect Medicare and Social Security; secure our borders and promote legal immigration and help hardworking Americans afford the cost of housing, health care and education.

I pledge to honor the American traditions and values handed down by our Founders. And as your independent voice in Congress, I’ll always put people first.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come?

The single most pressing issue facing the district is the cost of living, whether it is housing, health care, education or transportation. San Diego is home to the fourth largest homeless population in the country. While this situation is due in large part to a lack of mental health services and other resources, one of the main drivers to the cost of living and homelessness is the lack of affordable housing.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

California is the fifth largest economy in the world. One thing that really frustrates me, in addition to the state taxes we pay, is that Californians pay more federal taxes than any other state in the nation, and yet, we don’t get back what we put into it. That’s why, when elected, I’ll fight to bring home long-overdue federal investments so we can address our district’s needs, from housing, infrastructure, public education to wildfire relief and more.

If elected, I would start by investing in affordable midlevel housing, tax credits for renters and help homeowners refinance their mortgages.

One fiscally responsible way to address this problem on the federal level is by updating the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s funding formula to reflect the needs of San Diego County. San Diego has the fourth biggest homeless population in the country, yet it’s ranked 20th in terms of HUD funding when it should be ranked fourth commensurate with its overall homeless population. Reallocating HUD funding to the county and working with the county government to ensure federal dollars are being properly spent will drastically help our people get off the streets so they can begin to lead self-sufficient lives again.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

  • Stand up to the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. End corporate greed so we can invest in lowering health care and prescription drug costs while protecting Medicare and Social Security.
  • Cut taxes for the middle class, veterans and their families and small businesses. End tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporations that send our jobs overseas.
  • Invest in public schools, child care and vocational training, so workers get the skills they need to compete in today’s economy.
  • Protect the environment, defend women’s rights and fix our failing immigration system.
  • Fix our broken roads and infrastructure, secure federal funding to mitigate wildfire risk and prioritize climate change as a national security issue.
  • Invest in affordable midlevel housing, tax credits for renters and help homeowners refinance their mortgages.Carl DeMaio

Carl DeMaio (R)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

I’m running for Congress because I’m fed-up with the direction of politics in California, and I’m tired of career politicians who are cowards and sellouts. We need more principled fighters who actually follow-through on the promises they make to voters.

Most voters know me pretty well already – most likely from my leadership of the fight to repeal the gas tax hikes in 2018. They know I’m a fighter who is willing to stand up and fight for the people when career politicians cave in on their principles or merely pay lip-service. On the San Diego City Council, I helped save the city from bankruptcy and got the landmark Pension Reform Initiative passed.

I founded Reform California – a grassroots campaign advocacy organization for government accountability and has blocked over $3 billion in tax hikes. Many others know me from my radio show on NewsRadio 600 KOGO-AM.

Before entering politics, I was in business. At 23, I founded my first company and my second by age 29. I sold both by age 33. I understand firsthand the struggles of our small-business owners and entrepreneurs and will work to cut red-tape.

People know I’m a proven fighter – and have been for years. Just look at the fight I led against the unfair and costly gas tax and car tax hikes. Since founding Reform California, I have blocked $3 billion in tax hikes and led the successful fight to strip California politicians of their lavish perks and pensions.

In addition to being a fighter, I’m a hard worker who is dedicated to constituent service. Since entering the race in August, we’ve held over 50 town halls. Contrast that with Darrell Issa who held only one town hall in his entire 18 years in Congress. I want my constituents to know I will be accessible to them on any issue they have a problem with. I may not be able to offer a perfect resolution to each issue, but I will always do my best to listen and fight for you.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come?

The threat of socialism is the single-most pressuring issue facing us today – and the high cost of living, destruction of jobs and loss of personal freedom that goes along with that failed ideology.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

In order to Take Back California, I’ve proposed a comprehensive, 7-point Reform Agenda and I’m not waiting – we’re already underway. By stopping tax hikes, addressing the homelessness crisis, fixing our schools, implementing pension reform and more, we can get California out of the decline it’s in – and bring back a more prosperous, free California.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

First, we must help President Donald Trump secure the border by building the wall, closing loopholes in the law, mandate and force eVerify, repeal Sanctuary State laws and end chain migration.

Second, I will implement my 10-point Fix Congress First Initiative, which will force Congress to live under the same laws as the rest of us – no exceptions – and will fundamentally shake up Congress and break through the dysfunction and corruption in our political system.

Third, I want to be the voice of opposition in California to fight back against socialism. Too many Californians are fleeing this state, and I’m prepared to lead the fight to take back our state from one-party Democrat control.

Nate Wilkins
Nate Wilkins. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Nate Wilkins (R)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

The Constitution is an amazing document, with the minimum requirements to run for U.S. House of Representatives is anyone at age of 25 and a United States citizen for only seven years. I meet the basic qualifications that allow almost anyone the opportunity to hold public office. Now a little about my background: 116th Congress in 2019; Congressional Innovation Fellow for the United States House of Representatives; Energy and Commerce Committee; Republican and retired United States Navy SEAL. Through my experience in Congress and SEAL teams, I have developed the operational, strategic and policy education that makes me effective in making well-informed policy decisions. I hope my background and service to our country can give the voter the confidence that I am a trustworthy and experienced candidate. The narrative I would like to dispel, is that only the privileged, well connected and highly “educated” deserve a seat at the political table. Although this helps, it should not deter anyone from serving their Congressional District.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come?

The most pressing moral issue facing the district is the character of the candidate. District 50 suffered a loss in ethical leadership, and I thought that the district could use a trustworthy and experienced candidate. As a faithful Christian, I am called to live a life of good works through service to my family, community and country. A father of two children and husband to an amazing wife, I must be a good example to them. Although I am not perfect, I do my best to live at the high moral, ethical and sacrificial example of Jesus Christ. I will uphold these morals and values for the rest of my life and to the best of my ability.

This world is extremely complex and to say there is a single most pressing policy issue would be irresponsible of me. However, I try to find the root cause in all problems, and the most important root issue facing the District 50 is the sanctity of life. Protecting the rights of the unborn is the most important policy issue because it increases the value of human life, given to us as a gift of God Almighty. When our society views a potential human being as merely a fetus; that devalues human life. When we devalue human life, we become more accepting of violent crime, unsafe communities, broken families and marriages, lack of empathy for human suffering, immoral education and lawlessness. I also want to iterate that my faith calls me to not condemn those that are impacted by abortion.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

At conception, life begins, and the unborn child needs to be classified as a “person,” as defined under the 14th Amendment. Unfortunately, due to the confusion on when life begins, now Congress needs to establish that life begins at conception. I will do everything in my power to fight for the rights of the unborn, and make sure that they have the same rights as those that are born. We must establish that “personhood” starts at conception.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

Pro-life; Second Amendment; traditional marriage; national, domestic and border security; empowering law enforcement; free enterprise; fighting overregulation; innovation; energy; commerce; homelessness; poverty; government oversight.

Darrell Issa
Darrell Issa. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Darrell Issa (R)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

Right now, radical socialists like Nancy Pelosi are doing everything they can to undermine President Donald Trump and overturn the will of the voters. Trump needs fighters on his side. I know how to fight the radical left because I’ve done it before. I’ve had the honor of serving in Congress for 18 years and served as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. I led investigations into the former President Barack Obama administration’s corruption and incompetence and held the administration accountable for scandals including Fast and Furious, Benghazi and the IRS targeting of conservative organizations.

As a veteran, I know firsthand the commitment required by our service members and the sacrifices our country asks of them. The 50th District has a large military presence and has been represented for decades by the Hunters, both military veterans who were strong supporters of the military community. I’m the only veteran in this race, and I am committed to making sure our military has the resources they need and our veterans get the care they deserve.

I’m a pro-Trump, pro-life conservative who will be ready to fight for our values on day one. I’m the only candidate who can say that. Carl DeMaio is a “Never Trump” liberal who’s never skipped an opportunity to attack Trump, the Republican Party, the Tea Party movement or social conservatives. Carl can’t support our president or our values in Washington because he doesn’t share those values. I’m the true Trump conservative in this race, and the only person who can be trusted to support the “Make America Great Again” agenda.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come?

We cannot defend our country if we do not secure our border. We need to build the border wall. For decades, both parties have failed to secure the border and enforce our immigration laws. I have been a longtime supporter of the border wall, border security and equipping our U.S. Border Patrol agents with the resources they need to do their jobs. The heroes who work on our southern border know we need a true Trump conservative in this seat, and I’m proud to have been endorsed by the National Border Control Council as a result.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

I will fight alongside Trump to build the wall so our Border Patrol agents can protect their watch effectively. When I’ve visited the border, I’ve seen that a handful of agents can patrol a mile of fenced border, but hundreds of agents are needed to secure that same stretch of open border.

The wall is common sense. Is it the only thing we need? No, but it makes it possible to apprehend criminals like drug smugglers and human traffickers crossing the border. We need prosecutors who take illegal immigration seriously. When the U.S. attorney in San Diego refused to prosecute human smugglers, I asked former President George W. Bush to fire her, and he did.

Carl DeMaio supports amnesty for illegal immigrants. I have never supported amnesty. We need to enforce the laws of our country. We need to remove those who have overstayed visas or come under false pretenses. We have to restore the rule of law. And we have to end sanctuary cities. We cannot keep this country safe if we allow cities and states to refuse to comply with the law.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

I will fight alongside President Trump to stop the Democrats’ impeachment boondoggle; build the wall and secure the border; end sanctuary cities; support our military and veterans and make sure they have the resources they need; protect the sanctity of life, defund Planned Parenthood, and pass laws that protect the unborn and protect the Second Amendment and stand up for the rights of law-abiding Americans

Helen Horvath
Helen Horvath. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Helen Horvath (Independent)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

As I researched my doctoral dissertation at Alliant International University Fresno, my adviser, Dr. John Renner, said, “Helen you will never be invited to NFL Headquarters to discuss key issues…”

Being solution focused, I took this statement as a challenge to use my key negotiation and networking skills. A year later, I was invited to speak with NFL Headquarters’ Vice President Troy Vincent.

After returning, Renner’s statement was “Never tell Helen can’t because she will do…”

It’s this demonstrated strength of purpose, integrity, and ability to navigate key issues using my education, experience, and community knowledge that’s the most critical skills to consider when voting for a candidate. As a resident of the 50th District, I’ll be there with the community every step of the way.

I researched and wrote a 340-page dissertation tied to brain injury, employment and career development and vocational challenges. I designed two models of career development and transition currently used by my business and government. I’m a public speaker, published professional journal and author. A subject matter expert in diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders, psychopharmacology, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, behavior-based behaviors and family and organizational cultural dynamic behavioral problems.

An Army veteran, I have 28 years of military and federal civil service.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come?

I actually have three key priorities in my campaign that are tied together through an “umbrella view” of the issues. These all are under “social and societal programs that are tied together through immigration, Social Security and women/family issues.”

How do you intend to tackle/solve these issues?

In the, I wrote plans for each key issue. I said that Social Security is tied to immigration and women/family issues are tied to both Social Security, immigration, employment and expansion of equal rights for women and families. I support the Navy’s plan to innovate a solution to both military and civilian child care issues concerning cost, availability, etc. Social Security is tied to illegal use of actual citizens’ SSNs through illegal businesses producing fake SSNs and IDs that allow the undocumented immigrants to apply for benefits under your SSN. The women/family issues are tied to human trafficking of illegal immigrant women and children. By further developing the plan below; we will be able to stem the tide of illegal immigration while supporting families in our communities. My parents were legal refugees sponsored into the United States.

For this response, I will focus upon the immigration issue tied to the overall umbrella social/legal issues.

For child care, I will fund and support (the) Navy’s plans to develop collaborative relationships with new and existing civilian child care providers in San Diego and Riverside County for higher quality and lower cost child care. This change is also a business opportunity for people who want to operate child care facilities.

I support equal rights for families and women. I am a firm supporter of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and laws to protect women and family economic growth. ERA, as written, is for both men and women, is not an abortion law and simply levels the economic playing field.

Immigration. Many individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally use criminal enterprises such as cartels. The illegal immigrants entering our country require identifications, Social Security numbers, birth certificates and such to be able to work. These identification documents are created by criminal enterprises creating identity theft issues that may go undetected. I would support the Department of Justice and Homeland Security in the investigation and funding of these agencies to crack down on illegal criminal enterprises. This support would extend to enforcement of current immigration laws while working to change the immigration migration laws to do the following:

Concerning employment-based migration versus chain migration – based upon economic need (e.g., current shortfall of trades in our economy that increases the cost of services and goods sold) – I support using my skills, education and experience to prioritize immigration into our nation while taking away a per country quota system. Will help build the economy instead of costing taxpayers’ money.

I will create methods for immigrants to transfer their skills and licenses into the United States. For example, a nurse who was educated and employed in Japan could transfer their education and work experience into this country to obtain a license-the same with a plumber or electrician. It would create unified standards that would provide the shortfall skilled labor and other labor categories faster positively impacting the economy. The government already background checks immigrants.

I would work to stop entry into the U.S. based upon family members who have legally entered the United States, such as aunts, uncles or cousins.

I would expand the H-1B high skilled visa program while eliminating the per-country cap and overhaul the H-2A and H-2B temporary visa worker programs.

I would work to provide expanded refugee services based upon the United Nations International agreements tied to a modified immigration reform law and passing criminal background checks, and ensure that Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are fully funded to ensure internal and border security.

Last, I would resolve the “Dreamer” illegal immigration issue through appropriate legislation.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

I would fully fund Department of Defense operations by creating a two-year budget for Defense to alleviate continuing resolutions, sequestration and furloughs. The objectives include safe housing for military members and support of military infrastructure to resolve environmental issues on military installations and improve on base housing.

I would support small businesses and business through federal government contracting opportunities, including potential revisions to laws and regulations to stop fraud, waste and abuse.

I support military spouse employment opportunities that will require examination of current Status of Forces Agreements (international treaties) to create continuity of careers for military spouses, including issues surrounding transfer of professional licenses between states and countries and social services such as child care.

I would revise the federal budget requirement to “use it or lose it.” Instead of reducing the agency’s budget for the next fiscal year; I would support the budget as written and reduce expenditures as available. It will save money for government overall when the end of year spending purchases unnecessary products or services.

I would continue to work toward equal rights in pay, benefits and family rights with the Equal Rights Amendment. Within this support is a need to improve upon enforcement of the Pregnancy Protection Act of 1978, passage of equal pay for equal work law (currently in Congress) and a sick leave for all law (currently in Congress). Ongoing advocacy for tribes, military, women and family issues in Congress is important too.

Last, I would support modifications to the Social Security program. Thirty years ago, Congress funded a report with recommendations to change Social Security retirement benefits. Currently, the Social Security board of trustees project program costs increase by 2035. Meaning that taxes won’t be enough to cover benefits; creating further federal debt that’ll push our current debt ceiling. The goal is to work with actuaries and pension specialists to devise laws and regulations to stop reduction of benefits for all. I’ve worked at the Social Security Administration and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation – a federal pension takeover firm. The goal is to create laws, regulations and methods to have a smaller, more efficient government that doesn’t issue government securities to fund programs at the expense of Social Security benefits.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at