House Speaker Paul Ryan told House Republicans Monday morning they need to “do what’s best for them” in their district in regards to whether to support Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Ryan said it was time to shift focus from defending Trump to hanging on to their party’s 59-seat lead in the House.
Losing the House majority is unlikely, but locally, Congressman Darrell Issa’s 49th district is becoming a battleground seat.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is reserving $2.1 million worth of T.V. airtime, driven partly by Issa’s continued support for Trump, a spokeswoman confirmed Monday.
The Republican multi-millionaire businessman is matching the spending.
The 49th Congressional District stretches from Del Mar, all the way up through San Diego coastal suburbs through Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and into Orange County’s Dana Point. With a large presence of military voters, the district has traditionally had a strong Republican registration advantage.
However, the 49th District has large populations of female, affluent, well-educated voters with whom Trump is unlikely to do well.
Democrat Doug Applegate, a retired Marine colonel, finished within six-points of Issa, a nine-term incumbent and nationally well-known chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Applegate’s campaign manager Robert Dimsey worked on Congressman Scott Peter’s 2012 campaign, when the Democrat former City Councilman ousted long-term incumbent and Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray.
“The DCCC feels we have an excellent opportunity to flip this seat while en route to taking back the House of Representatives,” Dimsey said.
Dimsey said the Republican registration advantage is narrowing in the district with 38 percent of voters currently registered as Republican; 32 percent registered as Democrat and 45 percent registered as No Party Preference, or independent.
Applegate, who was not as well-known in the district, was successful at tying Issa to Trump as a campaign strategy in the June primary.
Issa confirmed Monday he is not withdrawing support for Trump and referred NBC 7 to a Facebook post he made over the weekend condemning Trump’s words.
Some voters who spoke with NBC 7 on Monday questioned why Issa continues to support Trump.
"To be honest I'm not an Issa supporter regardless, but the fact that he's continuing to support Trump just adds to my not supporting him," 49th District voter Noelle Gately said.
But others we spoke to say Issa's continued support of Trump does not faze them.