Ammar Campa-Najjar outside the White House. Courtesy of his campaign.

With nine candidates running for California’s vacant 50th Legislative District seat and no clear front-runner, what was once a safe Republican seat might be up for grabs.

When former-Rep. Duncan Hunter came under fire for misusing campaign funds, several Republican contenders entered the race. When he officially resigned in early January, it became likely that one of those Republicans would face off with a former Democratic opponent of Hunter’s.

The candidates for the seat are: Ammar Campa-Najjar, Democrat; Carl DeMaio, Republican; Darrell Issa, Republican; Brian Jones, Republican; Nathan Wilkins, Republican; Jose Cortes, Peace and Freedom Party of California; Helen Horvath, Independent; Lucinda Jahn, Independent; Henry Ota, Independent.

Marisa Calderon, Democrat, withdrew her candidacy Jan 31, but her name will still be on the ballot.

A recent survey showed that Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is polling ahead with likely voters at 44%. DeMaio trails at 22%, Issa at 17% and Jones at 13%. An important caveat is that the poll only included those four candidates and a choice for “other” and “undecided,” so it may not truly reflect the way the votes land on election day.

Either way, Campa-Najjar, who lost the 2018 election in the district to Hunter by an 8,900-vote margin, is the clear favorite for the primary, but possibly a slight underdog in the general election to any Republican who wins Tuesday’s contest.

Campa-Najjar, 31, has never held political office but touts his experience with the President Barack Obama reelection campaign in 2012. He holds a bachelors degree from San Diego State University.

Carl DeMaio, 45, was a San Diego City Councilmember from 2008-2012 and conservative radio talk show host. He ran for San Diego mayor in 2012 but lost to Bob Filner, a former representative of the 50th district. He ran for the 52nd congressional district but lost to incumbent Rep. Scott Peters. He holds a bachelors degree from Georgetown University.

Darrell Issa, 66, was a congressman from 2001 to 2019 in both the 48th and 49th districts. He ran unsuccessfully for senate in 1998. He is a U.S. Army veteran and achieved the rank of captain while in the Army Reserves from 1976 to 1980. He holds a bachelors degree from Kent State University at Stark.

Brian Jones, 51, is a current state senator representing the 38th district. He has previously served in the California State Assembly and Santee City Council. He holds a bachelors degree from San Diego State University.

The 50th district encompasses most of east San Diego County and some of Riverside county.

— City News Service

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