It 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
This 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.
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.