San Diego

Harkey, Levin Square Off in 49th Congressional District Debate

Republican Diane Harkey and Democrat Mike Levin, candidates for the 49th Congressional District seat, went toe to toe in a debate Tuesday live from the NBC 7 studios in Kearny Mesa.

Harkey, who has earned an endorsement from President Donald Trump, is a current member of the California Board of Equalization. 

Levin is an environmental employee who was praised in a speech by President Barack Obama last month as a champion for environmental issues and climate change. 

The race for the 49th District seat is one of the most closely-watched races in the country.

NBC 7's Alex Presha hits District 49 candidates Diane Harkey and Mike Levin with rapid-fire questions.

Candidates fielded questions from NBC 7 San Diego anchors Catherine Garcia and Mark Mullen, as well as political reporter Alex Presha.

A student audience screening the debate at Mira Costa College in Oceanside also had a chance to pose questions in real time.

“How should Congress ensure that students are able to pay off their loans and find gainful employment?” NBC 7's Danny Freeman is taking live questions for the two candidates racing for the 49th Congressional District.

Topics included immigration, President Trump's administration, military threats to the United States, healthcare and the VA, leadership and even the Space Force.

The debate became contentious at several points, but the first came after a question was posed about Special Council Robert Mueller's investigation into President Trump and the 2016 election.

Harkey said she was against impeachment of the president, saying "[the country] does not need the chaos."

Levin rebutted that he doesn't seek impeachment, only "justice and the truth."

Speaking to a question about border security, Harkey called a reinforced border wall along California's southern border with Mexico a necessity, not to keep people out but to keep criminals and gang members out.

"Right now we have a crisis at the border with drug running, human trafficking, and money laundering. And you don’t have to believe me, you can read Kamala Harris’s report - 2014 on transitional gangs," she said.

A major debate between the front runners for the 49th District seat will be hosted by NBC 7's Alex Presha. NBC 7's Danny Freeman has more on Oceanside residents' reactions.

Levin spoke passionately about fighting against described efforts to privatize the VA, calling the department VA is a "world-class administrator of medical care, specifically for the needs of veterans."

Harkey and Levin advanced to the November Runoff after securing the top two spots in California’s so-called “jungle primary," which features candidates of both parties on the same ballot with the top two candidates from either party advancing.

Harkey came in first with 25 percent of the vote while Levin came in second with 17 percent of the vote.

District 49, which encompasses Encinitas, Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad and a small part of Orange County, is represented by Republican Congressman Darrell Issa who announced his retirement in January.

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