SAN DIEGO -- Three Republican candidates and one Democrat running for the 50th Congressional District participated in a debate in Valley Center Friday night.
The seat has been held by the Hunter family for the last few decades. Now that Duncan Hunter is out, there are four main contenders vying for the seat.
The race's frontrunners consist of former Congressman Darrell Issa, State Senator Brian Jones, former Councilmember Carl DeMaio and Democratic contender Ammar Campa-Najjar.
José Cortés, who is also competing for the seat as a socialist candidate, gave the debate an unexpected start by rushing the stage, demanding to be included as protesters held a banner near the stage. Cortés was quickly led away and the remaining candidates began discussing their qualifications for the seat.
Campa-Najjar reminded voters that he lost his last election by fewer than 2,000 votes. “I didn’t give up; I kept fighting," Campa-Najjar said. "I’ve been running for three years for a two-year term. That’s commitment. I didn’t run away when my seat got too tough or run for a different district because of convenience. I’m running in this district because I was born here."
While the Republican candidates did not say whether they believe in man-made climate change, Jones and DeMaio made it clear it was not their priority to push for new green policies.
“America’s done a very good job on climate change,” Jones said. “California is leading the way. It’s time for some of these other gross, polluting countries to step up and do their part.”
“We don’t believe that we can actually control the climate by taking your economy and throwing it in the ditch, or infringing on freedom, or undermining convenience,” DeMaio said.
“Our job is to do everything to make our country cleaner, safer and more sustainable," Issa said.
Campa-Najjar, who joked that he would be San Diego's most conservative congressman in San Diego if elected, said man-made climate change is real and a major priority for him. “Remember in L.A. County a couple decades ago when we had smog everywhere and then we did something about it and actually reduced it? It was man-made and man-solved -- that’s what climate change is. And it created good paying jobs in the process.”
The three Republican candidates are supporters of President Donald Trump and said they will support him in their own way. Issa reminded voters that Trump invited him to be part of his administration, while DeMaio and Jones said they considered it their job to help implement the president's agenda and reinforce party values at home.
“It is my job to go to Washington and support our president and vote to get his agenda implemented," DeMaio said.
Less than a month remains before the March 3 primary, and early voting has already started in San Diego County. Follow this link for more information on the upcoming primary election.