Darrell Issa, shown at a February debate. Photo by Chris Stone

Former Rep. Darrell Issa declared victory in the race for the 50th Congressional District, as he continued to lead Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in the vote tally.

The Associated Press and The Hill projected the victory for Issa. He will return to Congress two years after he gave up his 49th District seat – which covers North County and parts of Orange County – as its numbers started to favor Democrats.

Issa leads 53.7%-46.3%, or by 23,470 votes, according to updated results Saturday from the Secretary of State’s Office.

According to a statement on Issa’s Facebook page, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters and Riverside County Registrar of Voters estimate that there are 34,000 50th District votes that remain to be counted.

The district covers parts of San Diego’s East County, North County and most of Temecula in Riverside County.

“My opponent would need to win approximately 80% of these votes to catch me,” the statement read. “That would be impossible considering the large margins I have been winning in each new round of newly counted votes.”

He added that, “Whether you supported me in this election or not, I will work tirelessly in Congress for all who call the 50th District their home, for The State of California which I love so much, and for our great country.”

The GOP held a majority in the House during Issa’s last Congressional stint. He served as chairman of the oversight committee from 2011 to 2015 and pursued investigations of the Obama administration. One focused on the attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead.

Campa-Najjar, 31, a former U.S. Department of Labor official under President Barack Obama, issued a statement Saturday congratulating Issa and calling on voters to give President-elect Joe Biden a chance.

He also thanked supporters, urging them to continue in politics.

“To the young people and those young at heart, to the Mexican Americans and Palestinian Americans who felt inspired by this campaign — don’t give up, stay in the arena. I know I will.”

Former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter resigned the seat after facing accusations that he improperly spent campaign funds.

He pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and received an 11-month sentence earlier this year. He has yet to begin the prison term.

– Staff and wire reports

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