Issa advances in bid to fill Hunter's vacant House seat

Issa advances in bid to fill Hunter's vacant House seat
© Stefani Reynolds

Former Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaGOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order Conservative group files challenge to California vote-by-mail order New poll shows tight race in key California House race MORE (R-Calif.) succeeded in his attempt at a congressional comeback after advancing in California’s all-party primary to fill the vacancy left by disgraced ex-GOP Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterLobbying world Duncan Hunter granted delayed start to prison sentence over coronavirus New poll shows tight race in key California House race MORE.

Issa, best known for his tenure as House Oversight Committee chairman during the Obama administration, is running to represent a San Diego-area district that neighbors the one he previously held.

He will in November face Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who lost to Hunter by less than 4 points in 2018.

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The Associated Press called the race for Issa to advance on Wednesday, more than a week after the primary election day in California.

Hunter resigned in January after pleading guilty to a corruption charge related to illegally spending at least $150,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

Hunter’s district came into play after he and his wife were indicted in 2018 for using more than $200,000 in campaign funds to pay for expenses like family travel, school tuition, utility bills and airfare for the family’s pet rabbit.

Republicans are betting the district will be less competitive this year with Hunter off the ballot, given their 11-point voter registration advantage.

Issa edged out Republican San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio in Tuesday’s all-party primary to advance to the November general election.

Both DeMaio and Issa launched their candidacies before Hunter eventually announced his resignation. Hunter only pleaded guilty to one of the 60 counts against him after long denying that he had misused campaign funds.

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DeMaio previously ran in a hotly contested race in a nearby district against Rep. Scott PetersScott H. PetersThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Trump, Pence tested, in more ways than one House Democrats press Pelosi for automatic unemployment insurance and food stamp extensions Issa advances in bid to fill Hunter's vacant House seat MORE (D-Calif.) in 2014, but lost narrowly.

Issa gained prominence for leading GOP investigations during the Obama administration into the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as well as the Operation Fast and Furious gun-tracing program.

Issa served in the House for 18 years until he opted to retire in 2018 instead of running for reelection in a nearby coastal district that has become more Democratic.

Issa only narrowly won reelection in 2016 by just over half a percentage point, while Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Van Jones: A 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' can pose a greater threat to black Americans than the KKK Taylor Swift slams Trump tweet: 'You have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?' MORE carried the district by about 7 points that same year.

During his tenure, Issa was repeatedly ranked as one of the wealthiest members of Congress with an estimated net worth of at least $250 million due to his past career leading a security device business.

Freshman Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) now holds Issa’s previous seat after defeating his GOP challenger in 2018 by nearly 13 points.

Campa-Najjar, meanwhile, is hoping to build off his near-miss in 2018. He previously worked as a deputy regional field director for former President Obama's reelection campaign in 2012 and later secured a position in the Labor Department leading the Office of Public Affairs for the Employment and Training Administration.