Will We Strike Gold in California District 49?

Darrell Issa - Incumbent in California District 49It is time to come to the weirdest race I have written about so far: California District 49 (CA-49). The incumbent is a guy who has been arrested multiple times for something other than protesting. Who then ran a business selling those annoying car alarms. This included the Viper car alarm, which he provided the voice for. He insulted the likely next president to her face. And he has done numerous things that just make me gasp.

Meet California District 49’s Representative

He is, of course, Darrell Issa.

Issa was first elected to Congress in an overwhelmingly Republican district in 2000.

Since then, he has had a colorful career. He has some cookie-cutter Republican views: opposition to abortion, homophobia, anti-tax absolutism, and a general anti-reality orientation. But mostly, he is a reliable Republican attack dog in the House, and seems to have no shame about it.

Issa is part of the reason why the Benghazi investigations have gone on as long as they did. He also doesn’t mind going after anyone he thinks is a political enemy of the Republicans. Issa was behind holding low-level IRS staffer Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her refusing to join in their endless witch hunts.

He also has his issues with email. Meanwhile, he even defended the Republican use and destruction of private email, while managing to become known as an IT expert on Capitol Hill.

Ultimately he is a blustering fool who annoys everyone who has to deal with him, even Republicans.

The California District 49 Race

Doug Applegate - Challenger in California District 49This year, Darrell Issa has a competitor who just might topple him.

Doug Applegate is a retired Lt Colonel lawyer who has been able to do something major: he got nearly 46% of the vote using next to no money. He’s only spent about $50,000 so far, based on the last report I could find (in April). He has been added to the Red to Blue program recently.

Before 2006, the DCCC didn’t add people they originally thought didn’t have a chance of winning. Since then, they have been more nimble. In Arizona in 2006, Ann Kirkpatrick was added at the last minute. She won that seat. And part of the reason why she was added is that the DCCC could see the wave that was about to hit. That makes Doug Applegate being added so late a very good sign for his general election chances.

Doug Applegate’s great showing was largely due to Issa’s support for Trump. Colonel Applegate has not been shy about hanging that around Issa’s neck. One of the things that makes it hard to unseat incumbents is getting attention from the media. Yet Applegate has been very good at being politely but firmly provocative in a way that gets him noticed.

That said, he hasn’t ignored the needs of the district like Issa’s has.

My Prediction

Like most pundits making predictions, I have no idea how this is going to play out. But I will give my opinion anyway.

Issa is probably going to lose. On retail politics, if nothing else.

You don’t neglect your district. And he has. He is also being tied to someone that makes the military vets in his district very unhappy. And there are a lot of vets (PDF) in California District 49. So when Doug Applegate does a compare and contrast, he comes out better.

There are plenty of other problems Issa faces but he isn’t doing anything to fix them.

It is a general election though, so it is possible this turns into another 60-40 loss for the Democrats because California District 49 is conservative. But the polling isn’t saying that.If Applegate keeps pushing as hard as he is and uses what time is left strategically, he will win.

11 thoughts on “Will We Strike Gold in California District 49?

  1. I don’t live in his district, but Darrell Issa – AKA “the turd you just can’t flush” – has been a thorn in my side and an embarrassment to me as a Californian for what seems like centuries now. I’ve hated him ever since the recall against Grey Davis – whose main sin, as far as I could ever tell, was failing to stop the Republicans from turning over our energy market to “The Smartest Guys In The Room®”. The day after that election I was sad and angry that the recall had passed, and frankly terrified that Ahnold had won as replacement governor… but I danced a tiny little happy dance that Issa, at least, had had his ass handed to him.

    I find it hard to imagine the 49th staying red for long – but I really, really hope they finally flush Issa.

    • I meant to say “I find it hard to imagine the 49th staying redblue for long”. If LTC Applegate manages to turn it even a bit blue, it will be a wonder; I’m afraid I can’t see it staying that way for long. I’d love for him to prove me wrong though.

      • Oh, I had wondered about that. We don’t normally see that much optimism here at Frankly Curious! Just the same, if he gets in and does a decent job, he might be able to hang on. It’s easier at the local level. Then again, things have gotten so polarized. 2018 is unlikely to be a good year for the Democrats unless Trump is president.

    • Davis was like Rose Bird: they wanted him gone and they found an unrelated issue to get rid of him. In his case, it was the stupid car registration tax or whatever. I know the Bird situation much better because I worked for her campaign, indirectly. It’s largely what made me the cynic I am today. A group of rich guys got the people to vote on the death penalty — an issue that had almost nothing to do with their lives. And what the people got in exchange for three justices who would gleefully kill people were three justices that would reliably side with big business over small, and any business over individuals. Yay, American democracy!

  2. Wow — I knew the guy was offal, but I didn’t know the whole list of offenses against human decency. Maybe after he’s out he can join Norm Coleman’s lobbying firm. The two can fall in love with each other being in love with themselves. I’m nothing if not a romantic at heart.

    • He’s already really wealthy — like a quarter billion dollars. But for people like that, it doesn’t much matter. No amount of money is enough. It would make a great country song about scraping the money together (because he’s not terribly liquid at the moment) to build his second car elevator.

      • Old country, back when it wasn’t as doctrinaire. A whiny little rich kid who needs constant attention; a funny songwriter could kill that subject. Like Ray Hubbard. Here he tells the story of his biggest songwriting hit. It’s very charming:


        • That’s very much like joke folk. I like that lick he keeps playing. Music has fractured so much over the last 20 years that it is hard to think in terms of musical genre. But I do occasionally hear a top-40 or a country music radio station and I find that there are a lot of people continuing to create the same horrible music that I remember from decades ago.

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