By Miriam Raftery
March 18, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – The 50th Congressional district seat held by Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter has long been considered a safe seat, with a solid conservative majority. But Hunter’s unwavering support for Trump administration policies have mobilized activists, sparked protests, inspired at least five Democratic candidates to say they’ll run against Hunter in 2018-- and prompted the San Diego Democratic Party to announce it will invest money to target Hunter’s seat for the first time ever.
“These Trump Republicans are in trouble,” Jessica Hayes, new chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party announced in an e-mail to Democratic party members. In addition to gearing up to try and defeat Rep. Darrell Issa, who won by a very narrow margin last time, Hayes announced, “We’re going for Hunter, too.”
Hayes sees Hunter as vulnerable for two key reasons. First, he chairs the Congressional Trump Caucus, but some Trump /Hunter positions are unpopular with many of his constituents, such as slashing healthcare for the elderly poor and voting to eliminate clean air and water protections. Second, Hunter remains “under investigation for corruption,” Hayes notes, referencing an ethics investigation into Hunter’s use of over $60,000 in campaign funds for personal expenditures such as a family vacation to Italy. (Hunter paid back the money after media coverage and filing of campaign finance law violation and ethics complaints.)
Corruption issues have prompted weekly protests staged by the citizens’ group Indivisible outside Hunter’s El Cajon and Temecula offices, with some constituents carrying “Dirty Duncan” signs and another to dress in a rabbit costume, a reference to Hunter paying for a first-class seat to fly his son’s pet rabbit, using campaign donors’ funds. The next protest in East County is planned on March 21: See: https://www.indivisiblensdc.org/ and https://actionnetwork.org/events/dirty-duncan-protest-in-el-cajon-2
On Thursday, April 20, five candidates running against Hunter will speak at the East County Democratic Club meeting at Jimmy’s Restaurant in Santee (9635 Mission Gorge Road). Dinner and social hour starts at 6 p.m. with speakers at 7 p.m.
The candidates are Gloria Chadwick, a nurse and elected director on the Grossmont Health Care District Board, Patrick Malloy, a realtor who previously ran against Hunter, Josh Butner, a member of the Jamul-Dulzura Union School District board, Chris Dalton (no information provided yet) and Pierre Beauregard whose colorful resume includes experience as a Vietnam veteran, peace activist, cowboy, biologis and physician associate.
Those are just the Democrats. The Libertarians are likely to run a candidate and it’s possible one or more Republican primary challengers could emerge.
There’s even a documentary film maker making a movie about the race, though it won’t hit theaters until after the 2018 election. You may want to grab popcorn, since the campaign road show is gearing up to be one of the most active—and entertaining--in recent memory.