Rep. Darrell Issa (left) greets Donald Trump at the beginning of the speech. Photo by Chris Stone

Rep. Darrell Issa may face the strongest challenge of his eight-term Congressional career in the November general election based on primary results and a new Democratic Party poll.

Issa, a Republican, received the most votes in the June 7 primary, beating retired Marine colonel and attorney Doug Applegate, a Democrat and political neophyte, but the margin was a surprisingly low 51 percent to 45 percent. And a poll released Tuesday shows the two candidates tied in the upcoming general election.

The poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows the two candidates each getting 43 percent, with 14 percent undecided. The poll was conducted on June 15-16 among likely general election voters.

Issa’s 49th District includes both north coastal San Diego County and south Orange County. In San Diego County, the primary race was even closer, with Issa edging Applegate by 49 percent to 47 percent.

Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesman for the Issa campaign, dismissed the results of the Democratic poll, saying the methodology was difficult to verify. “Congressman Issa is in a very strong position in the 49th,” he said, adding that a partisan poll in 2014 came up with similar results.

Wilcox noted that the primary election margin was driven by “a surge in Democratic registrations and high Democratic turnout” and Issa still prevailed.

Barb Solish of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Issa’s support for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump may have hurt him in the primary, though he originally backed Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Issa thinks Donald Trump is the obvious choice but his constituents clearly don’t agree,” she said. “Voters will hold Issa accountable for his partisanship and his stalwart support for Trump in November.”

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Chris Jennewein

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