GOP needs to get its act together to keep Duncan Hunter's seat

So Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego's east county is finally out, and sure enough, Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided to not fill that congressional seat until November.

A special election, see, would create an incumbent, and this back badlands district, badly gerrymandered as it is to include the Mexican border and tony coastal areas, it's still the last Republican redoubt in the area, the mountain fortress stronghold of red in a sea of blue.

So it's more than a little disturbing, even with multiple Republicans dividing the vote to see Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 30-year-old grandson of a top Palestinian terrorist kingpin who's praised old gramps who helped lead the1972 Munich Olympics massacre, as "a legend," at the top. Campa-Najjar was born less than a year earlier than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Campa-Najjar ran for Congress recently, narrowly losing in 2018 to the then-indicted Hunter. It was probably a bellwether of sorts. Now, he's ahead of all other Republicans according to this new poll:

A San Diego Union-Tribune/10News poll of 512 likely voters conducted by SurveyUSA shows Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar leading a crowded field of 10 candidates with 26 percent.

Closely following him are Republican opponents Darrell Issa (21 percent) and Carl DeMaio (20 percent). The poll’s margin of error is 5.7 percentage points.

Will he win? The numbers suggest not, given that the three Republicans below him in the polling lineup would have a total of 54% support. 

But if you know how red that district is (or maybe was), it's worrisome to see a guy like that at the top of anything.

One thing stands out that might explain why Campa-Najjar is going to give the GOP a run for their money:

He's play-acting at being a conservative.

Here's his long, fawning interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, which failed to bring up Campa-Najjar's praise for old gramps the terrorist. The pull quote:

“I will be the most conservative congressman in San Diego and I’d make no qualms about that.”

Which is kind of an impressive weasel-words argument, given that everyone else who holds a seat in San Diego County is a rabid leftist and it wouldn't take much more than shaking hands with a Trump supporter to qualify as the "most conservative" member of Congress in San Diego.

As a bone to Republicans, he says he owns a gun and is in favor of concealed-carry, for himself at least. He also says he's in favor of some kind of border law.

Which based on the poll above, is obviously a sop to independents and some Republicans, 52% of whom "support Donald Trump's approach to immigration."

Obviously, he knows something of the region and the people whose votes he would entice.

That would probably not be a problem, but then there's the San Diego Union-Tribune's long interview with Darryl Issa, the GOP frontrunner, who recently won an endorsement from Duncan Hunter, Sr, the ousted congressman's dad, who's the grand old man of historically red San Diego politics, a much revered figure, and a man who held views identical to Trump's at least 30 years before Trump went into politics.

Issa, the front-runner, who will probably take the second spot on the ballot after the March primary, is play-acting at being a liberal. The pull quote:

“I can be a conservative, but I’m also somebody who’s worked the job for 18 years, and I’m not going to be an absolutist.”

Which in this day and age is rather unreassuring. People voted for Trump because they believed he was a fighter. This doesn't sound like the words of a fighter, it sounds like a swamp thing. Issa weasels around on things like global warming saying he thinks more research is needed, which is another cop out. He also proudly says he refused to vote for President Trump's tax cut, as if having a good economy weren't as important as fiscal austerity for the government. None of this is a good look for a candidate, especially one who has the numbers and doesn't need to be a fake liberal to have the votes. Unlike Campa Najjar's interview, the U-T's stemwinder focuses a lot on political inside baseball and other people's races, which makes it hard to retain interest in, but call that bias. Bottom line is that what we see is someone attempting to soften his conservatism to attract more leftist votes, which in as red a district as Hunter's is something he probably doesn't have to do.

He may be worried about not drawing enough leftist and independent votes, maybe he has some internal polls we don't know about. But it creates a risk of Republicans staying home, at least in a Trump-before-there-was-Trump district. Issa ought to be as assertive as possible about his pro-Trump conservativism. He's already got a minor credibility problem in that he left his coastal California seat in 2018, presumably because he thought the Trump revolution was a loser among his base. What back-county voters don't need is for him to tiptoe around on the conservatism as if they too were a large leftist base he needs to bend to accommodate.

One hopes it will turn out well. But if Issa has more trouble winning the seat than he thinks he will, and conservatives stay home, his moderate tilt is what will be behind it. He should take a look at the approach of the first place guy, and tilt conservative.

Image credit: Caricature by Donkey Hotey, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

So Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego's east county is finally out, and sure enough, Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided to not fill that congressional seat until November.

A special election, see, would create an incumbent, and this back badlands district, badly gerrymandered as it is to include the Mexican border and tony coastal areas, it's still the last Republican redoubt in the area, the mountain fortress stronghold of red in a sea of blue.

So it's more than a little disturbing, even with multiple Republicans dividing the vote to see Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 30-year-old grandson of a top Palestinian terrorist kingpin who's praised old gramps who helped lead the1972 Munich Olympics massacre, as "a legend," at the top. Campa-Najjar was born less than a year earlier than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Campa-Najjar ran for Congress recently, narrowly losing in 2018 to the then-indicted Hunter. It was probably a bellwether of sorts. Now, he's ahead of all other Republicans according to this new poll:

A San Diego Union-Tribune/10News poll of 512 likely voters conducted by SurveyUSA shows Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar leading a crowded field of 10 candidates with 26 percent.

Closely following him are Republican opponents Darrell Issa (21 percent) and Carl DeMaio (20 percent). The poll’s margin of error is 5.7 percentage points.

Will he win? The numbers suggest not, given that the three Republicans below him in the polling lineup would have a total of 54% support. 

But if you know how red that district is (or maybe was), it's worrisome to see a guy like that at the top of anything.

One thing stands out that might explain why Campa-Najjar is going to give the GOP a run for their money:

He's play-acting at being a conservative.

Here's his long, fawning interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, which failed to bring up Campa-Najjar's praise for old gramps the terrorist. The pull quote:

“I will be the most conservative congressman in San Diego and I’d make no qualms about that.”

Which is kind of an impressive weasel-words argument, given that everyone else who holds a seat in San Diego County is a rabid leftist and it wouldn't take much more than shaking hands with a Trump supporter to qualify as the "most conservative" member of Congress in San Diego.

As a bone to Republicans, he says he owns a gun and is in favor of concealed-carry, for himself at least. He also says he's in favor of some kind of border law.

Which based on the poll above, is obviously a sop to independents and some Republicans, 52% of whom "support Donald Trump's approach to immigration."

Obviously, he knows something of the region and the people whose votes he would entice.

That would probably not be a problem, but then there's the San Diego Union-Tribune's long interview with Darryl Issa, the GOP frontrunner, who recently won an endorsement from Duncan Hunter, Sr, the ousted congressman's dad, who's the grand old man of historically red San Diego politics, a much revered figure, and a man who held views identical to Trump's at least 30 years before Trump went into politics.

Issa, the front-runner, who will probably take the second spot on the ballot after the March primary, is play-acting at being a liberal. The pull quote:

“I can be a conservative, but I’m also somebody who’s worked the job for 18 years, and I’m not going to be an absolutist.”

Which in this day and age is rather unreassuring. People voted for Trump because they believed he was a fighter. This doesn't sound like the words of a fighter, it sounds like a swamp thing. Issa weasels around on things like global warming saying he thinks more research is needed, which is another cop out. He also proudly says he refused to vote for President Trump's tax cut, as if having a good economy weren't as important as fiscal austerity for the government. None of this is a good look for a candidate, especially one who has the numbers and doesn't need to be a fake liberal to have the votes. Unlike Campa Najjar's interview, the U-T's stemwinder focuses a lot on political inside baseball and other people's races, which makes it hard to retain interest in, but call that bias. Bottom line is that what we see is someone attempting to soften his conservatism to attract more leftist votes, which in as red a district as Hunter's is something he probably doesn't have to do.

He may be worried about not drawing enough leftist and independent votes, maybe he has some internal polls we don't know about. But it creates a risk of Republicans staying home, at least in a Trump-before-there-was-Trump district. Issa ought to be as assertive as possible about his pro-Trump conservativism. He's already got a minor credibility problem in that he left his coastal California seat in 2018, presumably because he thought the Trump revolution was a loser among his base. What back-county voters don't need is for him to tiptoe around on the conservatism as if they too were a large leftist base he needs to bend to accommodate.

One hopes it will turn out well. But if Issa has more trouble winning the seat than he thinks he will, and conservatives stay home, his moderate tilt is what will be behind it. He should take a look at the approach of the first place guy, and tilt conservative.

Image credit: Caricature by Donkey Hotey, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0