Gavin Newsom appears in San Diego debate before 2018 primary.
Gavin Newsom appears in San Diego debate before 2018 primary. Photo by Chris Stone

Gov. Gavin Newsom will not call a special election to replace resigning Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, his office announced Wednesday.

“The governor’s office received Rep. Hunter’s resignation letter. Based on the timing of the resignation, a special election will not be called,” said Vicky Waters, deputy director of media and public affairs in the governor’s office.

The 50th Congressional District seat was already up for election this year. The primary will be held March 3, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the Nov. 3 general election.

The decision not to call a special election in the interim means the 50th District congressional seat will remain empty for about a year.

In a letter sent Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Newsom, Hunter — who pleaded guilty in December to a federal felony charge for misusing $250,000 in campaign funds — announced he will step down from his seat at the end of business Monday.

Hunter, who held the seat for 11 years, had been planning to seek another term in this year’s regular election.

Former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is running for the office, blasted the decision not to hold a special election, calling it a politically motivated move by a Democratic governor to leave vacant a seat in a historically conservative, Republican district. Prior to Hunter being elected, his Republican father held the seat for 28 years.

“It’s outrageous and unconscionable that Gavin Newsom is leaving the 50th Congressional District without a member of Congress — their voice in Washington — for a full year,” DeMaio said. “If this were a safe Democrat seat, you know damn well that the governor would have wanted it filled as soon as possible — but because this is a Republican seat, he couldn’t care less about the voters in our district.

“By playing politics, Gavin Newsom is denying the fundamental right for these residents to have the voice they deserve in Congress.”

In the meantime, reports East County Magazine, Hunter’s district Chief of Staff Michael Harrison says services for constituents will not be interrupted.

“The office will remain open throughout a vacancy, no matter how long it may take. Constituents can continue contacting the office with any of their needs, they also have Senators Feinstein and Harris as resources as well,” he said Tuesday.

Ten candidates have filed to run for Hunter’s seat in the March primary election. The top two will advance to a run-off election in November, so the seat will be vacant until a new representative is sworn in — in January 2021.

— City News Service