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SAN DIEGO — The 50th Congressional District race is getting crowded on the Republican side as another primary challenger announced his candidacy this week.

Former 49th District Rep. Darrell Issa believes embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter cannot win his seat and says he wants to protect the seat from Democrats.

Hunter was indicted in August 2018, along with his wife, on five dozen criminal charges, including conspiracy, wire fraud and record falsification, for allegedly misusing campaign funds. Margaret Hunter has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is cooperating with prosecutors. Her husband maintains his innocence.

“His father was my mentor. Duncan’s my friend. He wasn’t going to be able to win reelection if he’s on the ballot alone,” Issa told FOX 5 Friday.

Issa retired his seat in the 49th District just a year ago and now he says he wants to get back in.

“I’ve done it, I know how to do it, I can keep doing it and because I have 18 years seniority I also start at the top of the dais, which does give you just that little more ability to be at the table to get things done,” Issa said.

Now Issa, State Senator Brian Jones and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio are all running for the 50th District seat.

“I’m sick and tired of quitters of politicians on the Republican side who are not effective in fighting against the socialist agenda in California,” DeMaio said.

Hunter’s legal problems have left his congressional seat in a questionable state, but representatives from his campaign say he will be seeking a seventh term, will not step aside and will continue fighting for his constituents in the 50th District.