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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Republicans battle for primary spot in contentious 50th district race

A recent survey showed that Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is polling ahead with likely voters at 44%. DeMaio trails at 22%, Issa at 17% and Jones at 13%.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Three present or past elected officials are the Republican front-runners in Tuesday's primary for the vacant 50th Congressional District seat, according to a recent poll released by the Carl DeMaio for Congress campaign this week.

Former Rep. Darrell Issa is seeking to return to the House where he served from 2001-19. Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio is making his second bid for a House seat, six years after losing to Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, in the 52nd District.

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Sen. Brian Jones, R-Santee, bills himself as "the only candidate with roots in the district, a proven conservative track record and the ability to get things done." He is a former assemblyman and Santee councilman.

Ammar Campa-Najjar is the lone active Democrat among the 10 candidates on the ballot. Another Democrat, Marisa Calderon, suspended her campaign Jan. 31, but her name will still be on the ballot in the race to succeed former- Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who resigned in January, a month after his guilty plea to a federal felony count for misusing $250,000 in campaign funds.

Campa-Najjar lost to Hunter in 2018 by a margin of 51.7%-48.3%. He was a deputy regional field director for then-President Barack Obama's re- election campaign in 2012, worked at the White House in the executive office of the president and led the Office of Public Affairs for the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration.

The field also consists of a fourth Republican, Nathan "Nate" Wilkins, a former Congressional Innovation Fellow with the House Energy & Commerce Committee; community organizer Jose Cortes, a member of the Peace and Freedom Party, and three candidates with no party preference -- organizational development consultant Helen L. Horvath, Lucinda Jahn, who lists her occupation as entertainment industry professional, and Henry Alan Ota, a loan officer and farmer.

The 50th District encompasses most of east San Diego County and a portion of Riverside County.

The top two finishers, regardless of party, will advance to the general election.

A Republican had held the seat since 1981. It was represented by Hunter's father, Duncan L. Hunter, from 1981-2009.