The race to replace convicted former Congressman Duncan D. Hunter has been a tough fight.
When the major 50th Congressional candidates gathered Friday in Mission Valley for the bipartisan debate, many were expecting fireworks given the television ads from some. But it was relatively tame as economic issues dominated the debate.
The debate was hosted by the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS and moderated by San Diego Union-Tribune’s Matthew T. Hall at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Diego.
Republicans Carl DeMaio, Darrell Issa and Brian Jones stood shoulder to shoulder with lesser known Independents Helen Horvath and Henry Oda.
The lone Democrat on state was Ammar Campa-Najjar, who ran against Hunter for the seat in 2018.
“I lost this seat when nearly half of the voters voted for me in this district. I didn't give up on them. My mom taught me better than that,” Campa-Najjar said.
The candidates discussed topics such as homelessness, infrastructure and Donald Trump.
“As soon as the government involves itself in an economic transaction, it falls apart, health care, higher education,” State Senator Brian Jones said.
And a discussion on taxes led to a clash between DeMaio and Campa-Najjar.
“And Ammar, how about we schedule a little meeting with your buddies in Sacramento? How about we just tell them to cut the damn taxes in California, so we never actually hit the salt cap?” DeMaio said.
“If you want to work on it, run for governor man. Half the room does not understand why you're running for Congress! All your proposals are about California!” Campa-Najjar responded.
Issa largely chose to avoid confrontation with his fellow candidates.
“Do you want to take 15 seconds to reply to that? I'm not sure what that was,” moderator Hall said.
“Nah,” replied Issa.
But he and other candidates did discuss President Trump.
“This became a clear opportunity to do the right thing for the president, for our country and for our district I love so much,” Issa said.
“I’m not running to kiss up to Donald Trump. I am running to represent all of you. That’s the job.” Campa-Najjar said.
“Having Trump’s back in the battles that he has to face day in and day out, it’s gonna be difficult, but I believe it’s necessary,” DeMaio said.
San Diego County’s mail-ballot voters have already begun receiving and casting their ballots. Election day is Tuesday, March 3.