Joseph Rocha
Joseph Roach with a bomb-sniffing dog. Campaign photo

Democrat Joseph C. Rocha announced Wednesday that he is ending his challenge to Rep. Darrell Issa, saying redistricting had turned the East County area into “safe Republican territory.”

Rocha, an Escondido resident, said he has decided instead to challenge Republican State Sen. Brian Jones, who represents a different section of East County.

“What has changed is not my will but the math. Redistricting has turned a battleground district into safe Republican territory,” said Rocha.

Issa earlier announced plans to run for re-election in the new 48th Congressional District, which includes most of the old 50th District in East County, as well as a larger part of the Temecula area.

Rocha said he believes Issa, who voted against certifying the presidential election, poses “an existential threat to our Democracy, but “this new district has no realistic path to victory.”

Rocha is a Navy veteran who deployed to the Persian Gulf as a bomb dog handler before he was discharged under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. After discharge, he helped to repeal of the policy.

After completing law school, Rocha returned to the service as an officer in the Marine Corps, where he served seven years as a judge advocate and finished his military career as a prosecutor.

Chris Jennewein

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