Budah bump-bump-bump ... another one bites the dust!
Two days after Rep. Ed Royce (R-Brea) announced he will not seek reelection in November, another member of the Orange County congressional delegation—Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)—disclosed he is also retiring from the House.
For those keeping score at home, there are now two more congressional seats behind the fabled Orange Curtain that could conceivably flip from Republican to Democrat, something that was unthinkable for eons before Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the reliably conservative region in the November 2016 presidential election.
Of course, in that same election, Issa only defeated Democratic challenger Doug Applegate by fewer than 2,000 votes. Issa's 49th congressional district covers parts of North San Diego County as well as Dana Point and San Clemente.
Issa's departure is particularly stunning given his national prominence as a strong critic of Clinton and Barack Obama, particularly as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which was followed by ardent support for Donald Trump.
“Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve,” Issa says in a statement. “Yet with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek reelection in California’s 49th district.”
Naturally, Democrats seeking that seat are giddy with delight, especially with the word that the respected Sabato's Crystal Ball has changed the 49th district race from "toss up" to "leans Democratic."
Applegate, who is on the ballot again for the June primary, tweeted:
Fellow Democratic candidate Paul Kerr tweeted and retweeted multiple related messages along the lines of this one:
Mike Levin, whose Twitter page prominently points to his endorsement by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), also added multiple tweets like this one:
Sara Jacobs, the granddaughter of Qualcomm's founder, a former policy expert with UNICEF, the United Nations and the State Department and a former Clinton campaign foreign policy aide who has been endorsed by Emily's List, did not post a direct message about the Issa news on her Twitter or Facebook pages, but she did retweet multiple "go get 'em" type posts by her supporters.
(I could not find a social media presence by the only other announced candidate in the 49th, the Peace and Freedom Party's Jordan Mills.)
Flip the 49th Neighbors in Action, a San Diego and Orange County grassroots association formed a year ago to take action in the wake of the 2016 election, called Issa "one of the worst and most powerful members of Congress" and his departure "a huge victory for the Resistance across California and the entire country."
However, the fight is not over, according to Vista member Tazheen Nizam. “While this victory comes with much excitement, Flip the 49th Neighbors in Action plans to stay vigilant in our efforts to ensure that if the Republicans put up a Trump/Issa clone they will also be defeated,” Nizam says.
To that end, Flip the 49th today scheduled a noon rally outside Issa’s district office at 1800 Thibodo Road, Vista, and another rally/campaign meeting at 5:30 p.m. at 5145 Avenida Encinas, Suite I, Carlsbad.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Drew Godinich, who released a statement on Royce's departure, did so again with the Issa news.
“The Republican agenda in Washington has been a direct attack on Californians," Godinich says. "After passing a devastating tax scam and fighting to rip away healthcare from millions of families, California Republicans clearly see the writing on the wall and realize that their party and its priorities are toxic to their re-election chances in 2018.
“Secretary Clinton won this district by a huge margin in 2016, and the cohort of strong Democratic challengers, unprecedented grassroots activism, and historic investment by the DCCC in Southern California means we are in a strong position to elect a Democrat to the 49th District this fall.”
Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, the gun safety organization launched by former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly, also released a statement on Issa, just as he had done after Royce's announcement.
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"For years, Rep. Darrell Issa put cashing checks from the gun lobby before strengthening laws to keep the public safe," Ambler says. "Just weeks ago, in the wake of two of the nation’s worst mass shootings, he voted in favor of a bill that would allow stalkers and domestic abusers to carry concealed weapons in California. Issa chose to be in lockstep with the desires of the gun lobby over his community’s safety, we called him out, and now he’ll be gone from Congress.
"His resignation shows that his district does not want someone who will blindly follow the gun lobby’s agenda that prioritizes profits over anything else. We’re going to continue our work in California to make sure that Issa’s seat will be filled by someone who will have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and put the safety of California communities first.”
Issa's retreat was also celebrated by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“Yet another NRA-backed politician who has bucked a majority of law enforcement in order to support the NRA’s dangerous agenda has decided to step down from Congress rather than face his constituents, who strongly support gun safety," said John Feinblatt, the Everytown president. "In 2018, we will be supporting candidates across the country who are willing to reject the NRA's dangerous agenda and stand up for public safety. This year, you will see a gun safety sweep in elections across the country.”