By Eric Heinz
Following the announcement Wednesday morning by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that he will not seek re-election for his congressional seat, Diane Harkey, of Dana Point, announced she will run for it on the Republican ticket.
Harkey, who is currently the chair of the California State Board of Equalization and was a state Assembly member from 2008 to 2014, said her experience in finance and banking would be a much-needed attribute to Congress.
“My whole policy has been basically helping Californians stay in business and do more business and collect taxes to help pay for the things we all want,” Harkey said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I’m very strong on anything that’s financial or budgetary. I have 30 years’ experience in banking and corporate finance.”
Harkey was the mayor of Dana Point in 2007, and she said her experiences with networking throughout the state and governing tax policies across four counties would make her an exceptional representative at the federal level.
“I just think that California needs a very strong voice that understands the business environment and the issues we face,” Harkey said. “(California) has a huge portion of the U.S. economy, 39 million people and only two senators.”
When asked about the challenges on the campaign trail she will likely face—Issa, a Republican, had his closest election in 2016 after easily defeating Democratic candidates since 2001—Harkey said she thinks the Republican contingency is still strong enough to elect her to The Hill.
“It’s still a Republican-favored seat. Whenever an incumbent leaves, there are a bit more (political elements),” Harkey said, adding she’s already assembled a team of consultants and advisers for her campaign, including John Franklin, who worked as Issa’s political director.
Five other candidates have already announced their intent to run for the coveted congressional seat. Last year’s Democratic candidate Doug Applegate, who narrowly lost to Issa, is running again. The three other Democrats running include San Juan Capistrano’s Mike Levin, Rancho Santa Fe’s Paul Kerr and Del Mar’s Sara Jacobs. The fifth candidate is Jordan Mills of Oceanside, a member of the Peace and Freedom Party.
Harkey also said her experience in the state Legislature included much of the same constituents that are in the 49th district.
“I have served the district since I got in the Legislature. Before the redistricting (in 2012), we had Oceanside and Vista in my legislative seat, and I worked with San Diego extensively,” she said. “I have good relationships there, and North San Diego County and South Orange County have a lot of the same issues, and I want to make sure people pay attention to them.”