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

Candidates spar in Congressional races across San Diego County

The AP reports that Republican Darrell Issa is returning to Congress after securing a victory in the most conservative U.S. House district in Southern California.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Candidates in four San Diego County congressional districts enjoyed victories or healthy leads Wednesday, while the race for the 50th District was neck-and-neck between former Rep. Darrell Issa and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.

50th Congressional District

The Associated Press reported Saturday evening that Republican Darrell Issa is returning to Congress after securing a victory in the most conservative U.S. House district in Southern California. The former nine-term congressman and ardent supporter of President Donald Trump trailed early in the San Diego-area 50th District race.

But as more votes were counted after Election Day, he overtook Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. Saturday’s vote count update gave him a 23,000-vote lead and secured the victory. Issa, once the richest member of Congress, didn’t seek re-election in 2018 in the neighboring 49th District after nearly losing the seat two years earlier. The 50th District opened when GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter resigned after pleading guilty to a federal corruption charge.

RELATED: Inside the race for the 50th Congressional district

The candidates were seeking to claim the seat vacated by former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, who resigned amid a corruption scandal and criminal charges of unlawful spending of campaign funds.

Issa had questioned Campa-Najjar's political convictions, saying his opponent has attempted to rebrand himself as a moderate in order to appeal to Republican voters, while Campa-Najjar said he has spent more time on the ground with 50th District residents than Issa, who formerly represented the 49th District. 

The 50th District covers East and North San Diego County, along with portions of Riverside County.

49th Congressional District

In the 49th District, Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, held a 53% to 47% lead over Republican Brian Maryott to represent the district straddling San Diego and Orange counties.

Levin won the seat in 2018, defeating Republican Diane Harkey in the general election, and taking over for Issa, who spent nearly two decades representing the area before announcing he would not seek re-election.

Maryott, a certified financial planner and San Juan Capistrano City Councilman, previously ran for the seat in 2018.

51st Congressional District

Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, easily defeated Republican challenger Juan Hidalgo Jr. for the third straight election to maintain California's 51st Congressional District seat. Vargas has represented the district since 2012.

The 51st District includes southern San Diego County -- including National City, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach -- and all of Imperial County.

Vargas was born in National City and his political career includes election to the San Diego City Council in 1993, the state Assembly -- representing District 79 -- in 2000, and the state Senate -- representing District 40 -- in 2010.

Vargas, who has represented the district since 2012, won the last two elections soundly, taking 72.8% of votes in 2016, and 71.2% in 2018.

52nd Congressional District

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, who has represented the 52nd District since 2013, jumped to a large early lead over Republican challenger Jim DeBello, who has decades of experience in the tech industry. But it was unclear how many votes still need to be tallied in that district.

Peters previously served on the San Diego City Council, including as the council's first president. He also served as chairman of the San Diego Unified Port District.

DeBello is a San Diego native perhaps best known as co-inventor of a mobile check deposit app used by 80 million customers, according to his campaign. He also served as chairman and CEO of Mitek Systems for 15 years and led Qualcomm's Internet Software business unit.

The 52nd District comprises much of coastal and central San Diego.

53rd Congressional District

In the 53rd District race between two Democrats, Sara Jacobs also jumped to a big early lead over San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez, leading Gomez to concede the race hours after the polls closed.

Gomez issued a statement that read, "As votes here in San Diego continue being counted, the results of the election do not seem to be what we all hoped for. While we did not win this one, I will never give up the fight for equality and justice and a sustainable planet. Tonight's results do not define my commitment to building a more just society, I will continue to do the work along with you all. Thank you to all the volunteers, to the community leaders who supported my campaign, and to my family for being on this journey with me."

Gomez said she called Jacobs to congratulate her.

"I stand ready to work with her to advance just policies that will benefit working families and ensure that our recovery from this pandemic leaves no one behind," Gomez said.

Jacobs and Gomez were vying for the seat vacated by Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, who announced late last year she would not seek re-election after representing the region for two decades.

Jacobs, the granddaughter of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, is the founder and chair of San Diego for Every Child, a nonprofit focused on ending child poverty. She worked as a policy adviser on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and held policy positions at the U.S. State Department and UNICEF, according to her campaign website.

The 53rd District stretches from Linda Vista to the South Bay, and also covers portions of Eastern San Diego County, such as El Cajon and La Mesa.