Former U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa stopped by Temecula’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4089 Saturday, Feb. 15, as part of his bid to return to the House of Representatives via California’s 50th Congressional District.
Issa served for almost two decades in the U.S. House of Representatives, first in California’s 48th Congressional District, then in the 49th after redistricting. Issa, a Republican, did not seek reelection in 2018, and his former district flipped to Democrat Mike Levin that year. But with Rep. Duncan Hunter’s conviction of a federal corruption charge and resignation from the House of Representatives, Issa has chosen to run to replace Hunter in the 50th, which includes parts of east and north San Diego County as well as most of the city of Temecula.
Issa does have a history, though, of representing the Temecula area — his district included Temecula, as well as Wildomar, Menifee and Perris, until 2013.
That was one of the first topics he brought up at the Saturday morning town hall.
“The 50th Congressional District used to be the 49th,” he said. “And before it was the 49th, it used to be the 48th.”
Issa, acknowledging his audience, noted that if he’s victorious, he would be the only person who has served in uniform in the region’s congressional delegation.
“Currently, of the people who are in double digits for this race, the ones who have any chance of winning, I’m the only one that served,” he said. “But it’s worse than that, there’s nobody else who is likely to win in San Diego county, period, or in Riverside County, it appears, definitely not in Orange County, who has served in the military.”
Issa served in the U.S. Army for a little over five years: as an enlistee from 1970-1972, and as an officer between 1976-1980.
Veterans issues were, naturally, on many audience members’ minds at the VFW post, and one audience member asked if Issa could commit to keeping in mind the stories he hears from veterans in his district while serving in Congress.
In answering that question, Issa did not hesitate to draw a line between himself and Hunter, a former Marine, leaving aside the latter’s eventual legal troubles.
“Duncan D., you know, I introduced him to Temecula when the district changed and took him around, and I can tell you that there’s not one time that we had a different vote and there’s not one time that he and I didn’t work together when we had a tough issue,” Issa said. “So is Duncan D. a little bit more flamboyant than me? Yeah, he’s a little younger, and he’s a Marine, but except for that youth and vigor, you won’t find much of a difference in this old guy.”
“So, is that a yes?” the audience member asked.
“That’s a yes,” Issa responded.
Issa also defended his record on supporting President Trump — indicative of the fact that on the Republican side, the race for the 50th district has very much become a contest between former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio and Issa on who has been more supportive of the president.
“One thing you won’t find is you won’t find me crossing the president, not doing things that would be helpful to his administration in spite of the fact that you will see that from my opponent,” Issa said, leaving out DeMaio’s name. “You know, there’s a reason that less than eight weeks ago, I was on Air Force One flying back with the president.”
Will Fritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.