Candidates Square off in Changing 77th State Assembly District

Incumbent Brian Maienschein, now a Democrat, seeks reelection against newcomer June Cutter, a lifelong Republican

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The changing face of San Diego County’s 77th State Assembly District is reflected in the views not only of registered voters but also in one of the candidates.

Incumbent Brian Maienschein is now running as a Democrat, having previously won the district four times as a Republican.

“The party moved in a direction that I was not comfortable with,” Maienschein said in an interview with NBC 7’s Politically Speaking. "For example, I’m pro-choice."

In 2018, Maienschein won the district by a mere 607 votes over then-opponent Sunday Gover.

This November, his opponent is political newcomer June Cutter, an attorney and businesswoman, who has made her party standing very clear.

“I’ve been a lifelong Republican," Cutter said. "It fits with my principles and values which I believe in, including freedom and liberty and, most importantly, a free-market economy and capitalism."

The 77th covers a wide span of San Diego County, from Rancho Santa Fe to Poway to Clairemont to Carmel Valley. Voter registration in the district has flipped; Democrats now outnumber Republicans.

It remains to be seen if Maienschein’s switch to Democrat will impact voters on Election Day.

“As a Republican, I lean toward Republican people because they tend to hold my values much more than others,” said George Elias, a longtime Poway resident who considers himself a conservative Christian.

“What’s important to me are his policies," Elias said. "I’m very strong in my thinking on specific policies that matter to me.”

Elias supports a strong pro-life stance and said he will not vote for Maienshein, who, as the candidate has noted, is pro-choice.

Some voters told NBC 7 that Maienschein’s party switch will have no impact on their vote.

“I really think it’s extremely brave that you would say, ‘You know what? I’m not toeing party lines. I don’t agree with their values,’ " said Cathryn Evans, 21, a registered Democrat. "I think t’s really brave."

Cutter said she will focus on education, with an emphasis on how state money is spent, demanding accountability for any funding.

The emphasis on education appeals to Jillian Wilson, 22, a registered Republican who recently graduated from college.

“I would go with June Cutter, and one of the primary reasons is that education is something that’s really important to me and something that I think already needs to be better funded,” Wilson said.

Meanwhile, Encinitas resident and lifelong Republican Mike Privett finds himself wavering from traditional Republican values.

“I am on the fence,” said Privett, who’s a financial planner. "I really don’t know what I’m going to do on Election day. I think I’m looking at someone who’s maybe a little more compassionate, somebody that’s more environmental, more pro-helping people, not so cut and dry about just business, which is difficult for me to say, believe me."

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