Congress

California 2020 Primary

Candidates for the 50th Congressional District (clockwise from top-left) Ammar Campa-Najjar, Darrell Issa, Carl DeMaio and state Sen. Brian Jones.

SAN DIEGO — With one longtime representative retiring and another stepping down amid scandal, the races to represent San Diego County in Congress this year are particularly competitive.

Regardless of their party affiliation, the two candidates who receive the most votes for each congressional seat in the March primary will move on to the General Election in November. That means voters’ final decision could come down to two Democrats or two Republicans, depending on the race.

Here is a breakdown of the leading candidates in each contest. Click on each of their names (listed in alphabetical order) to view the candidates’ websites for detailed information.

District 50

When former Rep. Duncan Hunter stepped down over a corruption scandal, it left this sprawling district of northern and eastern San Diego County up for grabs. In the final month before the primary, a familiar Democratic rival and a trio of Republicans are the leading candidates to replace him.

Ammar Campa-Najjar (D)
Ammar Campa-Najjar is an East County business owner and educator who worked on the Barack Obama reelection campaign and later in the Labor Department. He ran unsuccessfully against Hunter in 2018.

Campa-Najjar highlights defending Social Security and Medicare, campaign finance reform, protecting the environment, and an apprenticeship and job training program as key policy priorities.

Carl DeMaio (R)
Carl DeMaio is a former San Diego city councilman and conservative radio host who recently led a campaign against the state’s gas tax.

DeMaio says fighting to secure the border and end illegal immigration, stopping tax hikes, reforming Congress, and reviewing and doing away with unnecessary government regulation are among the priorities for his campaign.

Darrell Issa (R)
Darrell Issa is a businessman and retired Republican congressman. He served in the 48th and 49th congressional districts, representing parts of Orange County and San Diego from 2001 to 2019.

Some of Issa’s stated policy priorities include building a wall to secure the border, pushing back on California’s Sanctuary State law, negotiating trade deals and protecting the second amendment.

Brian Jones (R)
Brian Jones is a member of California State Senate serving District 38, which covers a large swath of East County and inland North County suburbs.

Jones’ campaign names reigning in government spending, supporting the military and law enforcement, securing the border and pro-life policies among his goals.

You can read a recap of a recent debate between these four candidates on the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The contenders listed above lead the pack in fundraising and advertising, but there are a variety of other candidates running for the seat as well. View the county registrar’s list of candidates for the 50th Congressional District here.

District 53

A crowded field is competing to replace the retiring Rep. Susan Davis in the 53rd Congressional District, a generally left-leaning portion of San Diego County that includes much of central and eastern San Diego, portions of the South Bay and a slice of East County.

The top four candidates according to a recent poll include two Democrats and two Republicans.

Georgette Gómez (D)
Georgette Gómez is a community organizer and the current San Diego City Council president, frequently noting that she is the first LGBTQ Latina elected to the position.

Gómez’s campaign says her priorities include universal healthcare under Medicare for All, expanding affordable housing, investing in public transit and infrastructure, and defending immigrants’ rights. 

Sara Jacobs (D)
Sara Jacobs is a policy expert who has worked at the United Nations, UNICEF and on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Her family is well-known in San Diego for Qualcomm, the telecommunications giant founded by her grandfather.

Jacobs’ campaign says her priorities include universal healthcare via Medicare for All, addressing income inequality, rolling back parts of the Republican tax reform bill, and closing the gender pay gap.

Famela Ramos (R)
Famela Ramos is a nurse who founded the Right to Try Foundation, which advocates for giving end stage patients earlier access to new medical treatments.

Ramos’ campaign says she will fight to lower taxes, provide for a strong national defense, expand services for veterans and promote immigration reform. She says she supports regime change in “rogue nations” and defending allies in the Mideast.

Chris Stoddard (R)
Chris Stoddard is a pilot and Marine Corps veteran who was active-duty for 11 years before flying commercially and starting a mentorship non-profit.

Stoddard’s campaign says he supports legal immigration but not paying for the healthcare of people who cross illegally, and the 2nd amendment but a “hard look” at how to prevent mass murders. He says “humans are destroying our planet” and supports federal marijuana legalization.

The crowded field for District 53 includes 9 other candidates, Democrats, Republicans and an Independent. View the county registrar’s list of candidates for the 53rd Congressional District here.

District 49

Rep. Mike Levin is defending his seat in the 49th Congressional District, representing a significant portion of coastal North County and some of southern Orange County. He faces a challenge from a conservative mayor in O.C.

Mike Levin (D) (Incumbent)
Levin, an environmental attorney, has held the seat since 2018, serving on the Natural Resources Committee and Veteran Affairs Committee.

Levin’s website highlights environmental issues, fighting against the “privatization of public education,” increasing the minimum wage and ensuring fair elections.

Brian Maryott (R)
Brian Maryott is a businessman and financial planner who currently serves as mayor of San Juan Capistrano, in southern Orange County.

Maryott’s campaign says he will reduce government spending, lower taxes, secure the border and protect the environment “with a sensible, science-based approach, not costly and extreme manifestos.”

View the county registrar’s list of candidates for the 49th Congressional District here.

District 51

Rep. Juan Vargas is defending his seat in the 51st Congressional District, representing a stretch of communities from the San Diego Bay to the border with Arizona, including some of southern San Diego and all of Imperial County. He faces a Republican challenger who he has already squared off with twice in prior elections.

Juan Vargas (D) (Incumbent)
Vargas, a former San Diego City councilman and California state senator, has held the seat since 2010, serving on the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs committees.

His campaign highlights protecting Medicare and Social Security, comprehensive immigration reform, and investigating in green power to boost growth among his legislative priorities.

Juan Hidalgo (R)
Juan Hidalgo is a retired sergeant major with the U.S. Marine Corps from National City. He ran against Vargas in 2016 and 2018.

Hidalgo’s website says he will prioritize supporting law enforcement, the military and border security, including building a wall and ending “catch and release” policies. He also promises to invest in job creation and education.

View the county registrar’s list of candidates for the 51st Congressional District here.

District 52

Rep. Scott Peters is defending his seat in the 52nd Congressional District, representing a portion of coastal San Diego and the central county. He faces a primary challenge on all flanks: a fellow Democrat, a Republican and an Independent.

Scott Peters (D) (Incumbent)
Peters, an environmental lawyer and former San Diego City Council president, has held the seat since 2012, serving on the Energy and Commerce and Budget committees.

Peters’ campaign highlights investing in research to create jobs, including in clean energy, expanding Obamacare, providing veterans services, and rights for women and the LGBT community.

Nancy Casady (D)
Nancy Casady is a member of the State Food and Agriculture Board who ran an organic food co-op in Ocean Beach for 20 years.

Casady says she is running as a “Green New Deal” candidate, with an emphasis on addressing climate change with a “World War II-scale national government mobilization.” She also highlights criminal justice reform and increasing certain taxes on the wealthy.

Ryan Cunningham (I)
Ryan Cunningham is a public finance banker and consultant from La Jolla who moved to Texas before returning to Southern California.

Cunningham highlights securing the border and ending illegal immigration, renegotiating trade deals and limiting foreign labor, and stopping the flow of pollution from Mexico into the U.S. among his policy priorities.

Jim DeBello (R)
Of the candidates challenging Peters, Jim DeBello, the former CEO of publicly traded Mitek Systems, has had the most success funding his campaign. Before Mitek, DeBello worked at Qualcomm.

DeBello says he will invest in the military, including adding 60 Navy ships, reduce government spending and invest in clean energy. He supports “humane enforcement” along the border paired with “sensible immigration and asylum policies” that encourage legal immigration.

View the county registrar’s list of candidates for the 52nd Congressional District here.


FOX 5 Voter Guide

Key Dates and Deadlines

Feb. 3-25: Vote-by-mail mailing period

Feb. 18: Last day to register to vote

Feb. 25: Last day to request mail-in ballot

March 3: Election Day

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