The national spotlight is on the 49th district, considered a battleground district that could play a role in changing the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives if Republicans can retake the majority.
The 49th Congressional district has been redrawn and now the coastal district spans from Del Mar to Dana Point. Previously, it included parts of the city of San Diego, like La Jolla but California's Citizens Redistricting Commission redrew the boundaries based off the last census to include the Orange County city of Laguna Nigel instead.
The new boundaries make the 49th a swing district: 36% of the voters are registered Democrats, 33.6 are registered Republicans and the rest are independents.
"In San Diego, the new congressional districts focus all the competition on one seat and that's the 49th district now being held by Mike Levin. That's now going to be the battleground district for San Diego that I think you're going to see Republicans contesting and Democrats putting a lot of resources into," said Thad Kousser, chair of the political science department at UCSD.
Mike Levin is the incumbent Democratic candidate and is running for a third term. He calls himself a bipartisan problem-solver and wants voters to remember his work on more than a dozen veterans bills and his commitment to the climate crisis.
"We’ve brought together Republicans, Democrats on new solutions to actually address the nation's nuclear challenges," Levin said.
Levin is facing six challengers including his previous opponent Republican Brian Maryott, who lost to Levin by six percentage points in 2020. Maryott is a former certified financial planner and Mayor of San Juan Capistrano. He's hoping the new district boundaries plus Americans' frustration with the economy will give him an advantage this time around.
"The government is not doing a good job. For me, it's that simple, I believe it's failing us at every level and increasingly we’re stacking levels upon levels, especially where spending is concerned," he said.
Two other Republicans are also contending for the seat, including Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett who says she wants to use her private sector experience as a corporate executive to reign in spending on the federal level.
"I think we need a definite change in leadership. Our country is headed in the wrong direction, we need someone with common-sense solutions, business experience and has proven results to be able to get into Washington D.C. and help turn our country around," she said.
Levin is also facing another Republican challenger in Chris Rodriguez, an Oceanside City Council Member. He's Hispanic, a Marines Corps veteran and a small business owner.
"I believe that a representative should look like the district and that’s me. I’m the only candidate running from the San Diego County portion of the district, which is about 70% of the district," he said.
The other three candidates on the ballot are Republicans Josiah O'Neil, a law enforcement officer, Army veteran and small business owner; Renee Taylor, a cybersecurity manager and Air Force Veteran; and Democrat Nadia Bahia Smalley, a nurse and businesswoman.
The seven candidates will compete in the primary on June 7. The top two vote getters will advance to the general election in November.