Diane Harkey of state Board of Equalization.
Diane Harkey of state Board of Equalization. Photo via dianeharkey.com

The chair of the state Board of Equalization is among three Republicans saying they would run for the 49th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Darrell Issa.

Rocky Chavez near the Oceanside Pier. Campaign photo

Former Assemblywoman Diane Harkey says she has the backing of Issa and Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine.

Harkey told City News Service she thought California gets a bad rap politically in the rest of the country and wants to work to change that.

“The state of California is extremely misunderstood across the country,” Harkey said. “States across the nation don’t like us and I hope to put a better face on that — to let everyone know how important we are to the overall economy.”

Harkey also said that throughout her political career, “I’ve been able to work successfully across the aisle. I’m the first chair of the Board of Equalization as a Republican in the past 15 years. That’s no small feat. I’m reasonable and I’m very committed to the causes I support but I’m not crazy and I know how to count votes.”

Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, a retired Marine colonel, also said he was entering the race.

“It’s time we come together and focus on progress, not partisan politics and gridlock,” Chávez said in a press release. “We need to celebrate what unites us, not what divides us.

“This has guided my work in the state Assembly. And it will guide my work in Congress, where I’ll work for solutions that benefit us all as Americans — a strong economy, a strong military, rebuilding our infrastructure and protecting public safety and national security.”

Republican San Marcos patent attorney Joshua Schoonover also announced his intention to seek the post.

Four Democrats, including slim 2016 loser Doug Applegate, have already announced they will run for Issa’s seat.

Orange County environmental attorney Mike Levin, San Diego real estate investor Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs, a former State Department employee under President Barack Obama, have also started bids for the seat.

Issa is the second congressional Republican from Southern California to bow out of a reelection bid this week. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, announced Monday that he would not be looking to keep his seat.

On the conservative site San Diego Rostra, Brian Brady backed Harkey for Congress speculated that every North County City Council member, Assembly member and state senator will consider their chances in the next few weeks.

Before Chávez announced, Brady wrote: “My short list of potential candidates would include: County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, County Supervisor Bill Horn, Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, Vista Councilmember Amanda Rigby, Vista Deputy Mayor John Franklin, Vista Mayor Judy Ritter, Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, Assemblyman Bill Brough, State Senator Pat Bates, and maybe Aliso Viejo Mayor Mike Munzing. I am sure another half dozen political newcomers will consider a run as well.”

— City News Service contributed to this report.