On Tuesday, October 3rd, the US House voted on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that if enacted into law, would ban abortions after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions made for rape victims and mothers whose lives are at risk without an abortion. This infringement on women’s rights is shocking to say the least, especially considering that for the women of California’s 49th Federal Congressional District, their House representative voted against their reproductive rights.
House Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) of California’s 49th Federal Congressional District is no average “run of the mill” Republican. Representative Issa has been named, on numerous occasions, the wealthiest currently serving member of Congress. As of 2015, Issa’s net worth of $254.65 million landed him that title for the third consecutive year.
While this amount of wealth places him into a tax bracket well above that of the average American, Issa still finds it necessary to continually fundraise for upcoming elections. For the upcoming 2018 Primary, from between January 1st through September 30th, Issa had raised $981,780.54. $636,380 of this money had come from individual donations, many of which were over $1000 per donor, an amount well above anything that the average 49th District household could donate. Likewise, $362,020 of the funds raised came from the Darrell Issa Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that is a combined effort of Issa for Congress, the ISSA Pac, and the Republican National Convention. The sources of his funding alone are cause for questioning his accountability. Big money in politics has seldom worked in favor of the everyday American, and this concept is only confirmed by Representative Issa.
Further, the values of many of his constituents do not align with those of his own political track record. While the 49th District does overlap the more conservative Orange County in cities such as Dana Point, his constituents also include students on campus at UC San Diego, a university well known for its liberal political involvement. According to FiveThirtyEight, Issa has voted in line with President Trump’s positions 98% of the time. Some of these votes have included the delay of any implementation of ozone standards, the push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the aforementioned Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.. These votes have represented an agency loss between him and his constituents, especially among the 49th District’s millennial voters, whom have tended to vote more liberally in recent elections.
While Issa has been the Representative of the 49th District since 2002, where he won 77.3% of the vote, his margin of winning has steadily decreased over the years, with him winning this past 2016 House election with only 50.3% of the vote. Likewise, of the nearly 719,000 citizens residing within his district, only about 310,000 turned out to vote with just 155,888 voting for Issa.
On June 5, 2018, this trending decline in support for Issa may only be validated further. On this day, constituents of the 49th District will have the opportunity to vote for their top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation. This means that the final contenders in the general election could be a part of the same political party, as seen in the California’s 2016 Senatorial General Election between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats.
Currently, there are three Democratic candidates challenging Issa. The current frontrunner is Douglas Applegate, a retired marine colonel who lost last year’s general election to Issa by a handful of votes. Applegate is considered to be a more progressive Democrat, having garnered support from the DCCC, as well as an endorsement from President Barack Obama. The other two Democrats vying for the seat include Paul Kerr, an investment firm owner, and Mike Levin, an environmental attorney. Applegate and Levin are slated to speak at an event organized by the San Diego Progressive Democratic Club this Monday.
Even though support behind his contenders is growing and his successes appear to be diminishing, only the voter turnout of the 2018 House Primary will determine whether or not his constituents are willing to inflict consequences on him via the ballot.
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