By Eric Heinz
At a rally in June in San Juan Capistrano, Rep. Darrell Issa did not hesitate to say he would run again for the Congressional seat he’s held since 2002.
That changed on Wednesday morning, Jan. 10, when a statement was released by Issa’s office in Washington, D.C. declaring he would retire at the end of his term this year.
“Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve,” Issa said. “Yet with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek re-election in California’s 49th District.”
Issa’s district stretches from San Juan Capistrano down the coast to Solana Beach. The district has been a Republican stronghold since Issa won his first election. But Issa faced his stiffest competition last year, narrowly defeating challenger Doug Applegate, a Democrat based out of San Clemente. Issa won Orange County by 21 percentage points but lost San Diego County by 20 percentage points.
With the election of President Donald Trump, the political landscape changed dramatically over the last year. Many people in South Orange County beseeched Issa to take action against the potential construction of a toll road through the city and to fight for access to affordable healthcare.
Issa’s decision to not seek reelection is the latest in a series of recent announcements by Congress members and senators who have also stated they won’t vie for their seats in November.
Known as a fierce and fiery Republican, Issa became well-known after the 2008 general election, voicing opposition to many Obama administration policies. In 2011, he was appointed as the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Although he is a skeptic of science on global warming, he recently opposed the Trump administration’s move to reopen offshore oil drilling along the California coastline.
Issa was also a proponent of expediting requests for public records and opening transparency of federal spending.
Locally, Issa attempted to pass bills on three separate occasions to have the spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) moved off-site through amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. None of them made it to the House floor.
Although he’s leaving Congress at the end of the year, constituents of the 49th congressional district may not have seen the last of Issa, as he foreshadowed at the end of his Wednesday statement.
“While my service to California’s 49th District will be coming to an end, I will continue advocating on behalf of the causes that are most important to me, advancing public policy where I believe I can make a true and lasting difference, and continuing the fight to make our incredible nation an even better place to call home,” Issa said.
So far, six candidates have announced they will run for Issa’s seat. Four are Democrats: Mike Levin, of San Juan Capistrano; Paul Kerr, of Rancho Santa Fe; Sara Jacobs, of Del Mar; and Applegate. Jordan Mills, of Oceanside, is also vying for the seat as a member of the Peace and Freedom Party.
The most recent candidate is Republican Diane Harkey, of Dana Point, who announced her intentions to run on Wednesday after Issa’s announcement.