Darrell Issa expected to run against embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter

Former Rep. Darrell Issa to make announcement in El Cajon, Calif., on Thursday.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

After months of publicly considering mounting a return to Congress, former Rep. Darrell Issa appears to be on the verge of formally announcing his candidacy for San Diego County’s 50th Congressional District seat.

Issa has scheduled a press conference for Thursday morning at Centennial Plaza in El Cajon, Calif. In the news release he says several well-known East County conservatives will be involved in the press conference, including San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Temecula Mayor Matt Rahn, former Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and retired Navy SEAL Larry Wilske.

Rahn, Abed, Wells and Wilske had all previously announced their intentions to run in the 50th District and challenge embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine).

Issa — a nine-term congressman who represented northern San Diego County for nearly two decades before retiring in 2018 — recently said he would run for the 50th District seat if his appointment to a Trump administration trade position was not approved soon.


Last week, after his confirmation to the trade post stalled again at the request of Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, Issa told the San Diego Union-Tribune he expected his confirmation would never fairly be allowed to go to a vote.

He vowed he would find another way to serve.

“I believe in the American people ... and I believe in the agenda of not just my party, but our current president and will do whatever I can to further that,” Issa said last week.

Hunter has been viewed has a vulnerable incumbent despite holding a seat that represents one of the most conservative districts in California, because he and his wife were charged with 60 counts of illegal campaign spending last year. Although they both initially pleaded not guilty, Hunter’s wife, Margaret, has since changed her plea to guilty of a single count of conspiracy and agreed with prosecutors to testify against her husband.

Hunter has maintained his innocence. His criminal trial is scheduled for January, just ahead of the March primary.