Republican Duncan Hunter (left) and Democratic challenger James Kimber at Cuyamaca College. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Republican Duncan D. Hunter and Democratic challenger James Kimber found much to agree on in a wide-ranging debate Friday, but sparks flew over Obamacare, immigration and climate change.

In their only scheduled meeting, Hunter said the Affordable Care Act has permanently made health care more expensive in the United States and he favors repeal.

“I’ve talked with thousands of people who have already lost their health care. It doesn’t work,” said the incumbent 50th District congressman, elected in 2008 to the seat long held by his father,  Duncan Lee Hunter.

“Not working in the health care field, there’s a lot that you don’t understand,” countered Kimber, a physicians assistant in neurosurgery. “I do support universal health care, plain and simple.”

The debate at Cuyamaca College.

He said Obamacare “isn’t perfect … but more people are getting help out of this than are being hut by it. … Health care should not be a profit-driven industry.”

The debate was sponsored by Veterans Campaign and the National Association for Uniformed Services held at Cuyamaca College before a crowd of some 200 people.

As of Sept. 5, registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats 44.6 percent to 25.8 percent in Hunter’s district of 311,302 voters, according to the county.
But 73,680 voters (23.7 percent) there declined to state a party preference.

Hunter also has a commanding lead in fundraising and spending. Figures reported on opensecrets.org as of June 30 show Hunter outraised Kimber $1,053,097 to $35,505, and outspent the Democrat $570,705 to $31,369.

On immigration, Kimber said illegals brought to the United States as children should be allowed to stay since they’ve been educated here and want to be Americans.

“Why would you want to throw away that investment?” he asked.

Hunter said a secure border comes first, and then immigrants should be admitted in the order in which they applied. He said he is worried about terrorists coming in through the southern border.

“Security first, then we’ll work on the immigration issue,” he said.

The two sharply differed on the cause and impact of climate change.

“There is climate change,” Hunter said. “Is there human-caused climate change? I don’t buy that.”

Kimber said he believed human-caused climate change was real, and advocated investing in charging stations for electric cars, among other steps.

“What’s wrong with taking steps toward addressing climate change?” he asked his opponent.

“As your representative, it’s not my job to spend your money on electric charging stations,” Hunter said, adding: “If you want to go green, you go nuclear.”

“What about waste?”  countered Kimber. “Nobody had really addressed that. Would you like that stored in Alpine or out in Julian?”

The 50th District includes most of San Diego County east of Interstate 15 and north of Interstate 8 plus Temecula in Riverside County.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.