East County should have a new Congressman and it should be a Republican.
Wait a minute! Didn’t I say “Duncan Hunter yesterday, today, and tomorrow” some 22 months ago? I did and I meant what I said back then. I saw the threat Ammar Campa-Najjar was and saw Hunter as the best defense against a Marxist interloper. But tomorrow is now yesterday, and today the Marxist interloper is running for this seat again. No matter what happens to Hunter in September, a conservative Republican should challenge (and beat) him in the March 2020 primary.
Hunter has been in that seat for 14 years and he sits on virtually no committees. While he is a reliable Republican vote in the caucus, he isn’t advancing conservative ideas in what is the most conservative district in the state. A congressman from the 50th shouldnt be a back bencher. He or she should be a loud voice in the House Freedom Caucus and an artful negotatior in the Appropriations Committee. Hunter is neither.
Which Republican is courageous enough (and viable enough) to challenge the Hunter legacy? All of the likely candidates are playing political checkers, sniffing around the election without fully committing to victory in 2020. Thus, Comrade Campa-Najjar could very well be the next Congressman if this continues.
Will former Senator Joel Anderson run? Maybe. He’s running for Supervisor in 2020 but he could be a likely candidate for this seat if Hunter runs into problems this summer. Anderson’s Congressional candidacy presents another problem — Dianne Jacob is sure to find a left-leaning candidate to replace her and a conservative Supervisorial candidate will be behind the fundraising and campaigning curve.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells challenged Hunter last election cycle and had a problem raising money. He was, admittedly, a placeholder candidate for Republicans if Hunter was indicted before the primary. (Hunter was indicted after the primary election.) If Wells plans to run, he shouldn’t wait to announce.
Larry Wilske has expressed interest. He moved from Mission Hills to Descanso in 2015 after he ran for Susan Davis’ seat in 2014. While his only experience in government was as a senior member of the SEAL teams, his 2014 campaign helped him to understand the tactics of a Congressional campaign. If Wilske plans to run, he shouldn’t wait to announce.
Brian Jones just won a Senate seat. It would be disingenuous of him to run for Congress after telling his voters he planned to serve his term in the California Senate.
Leo Hamel could run. He announced for Assembly in 2016 but pulled out before the primary, citing family responsibilities. If he plans to run, he should address that and announce sooner rather than waiting.
Carl DeMaio might run. He has a big megaphone at KOGO and great name recognition from his effort to repeal the gas tax. His brand of fiscal conservatism would appeal to East County voters but his stances on social issues may not resonate with them. He too should announce sooner rather than later.
The primary election is in March of 2020 so anybody who is interested in this office should announce by March of this year and have at least $100,000 raised and in their election account by the June 30, 2019 deadline. The Republican Party of San Diego County should refrain from endorsing Hunter and consider a challenger’s candidacy if he or she meets that June threshhold.
Watching the Hunter legal saga and waiting to see what happens could lose Republicans a seat in Congress. If you are serious about this seat, don’t hedge your bets — step up and make a case for why you are a better candidate than Hunter. Do it NOW.