SAN DIEGO — With a local political mainstay retiring and another representative forced to resign after being convicted of corruption, November features multiple competitive races to represent San Diego County in Washington.
Here is a breakdown of the leading candidates in each district around the region. Click on each candidate’s name to view their website for detailed information.
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. Traditionally a conservative stronghold, a Democratic challenger is making a strong bid to turn the district blue, while a familiar face of the GOP is hoping to represent the region.
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, and has continued his bid to win office in the area ever since.
Campa-Najjar says he supports gradually expanding Medicare to be available to all taxpayers within several years, while leaving an option for private insurance and supplemental plans.
His campaign also highlights protecting social security with a “lockbox” fund that lawmakers can’t access, campaign finance reform to reduce the sway of “big money” donors, addressing climate change, and a new apprenticeship and job training program.
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.
Issa has emphasized immigration as a key issue in his campaign, saying “we must build the wall” and equip border authorities to stop human and drug trafficking, and pushing back on efforts to make California a “sanctuary state.”
His campaign also emphasizes negotiating trade deals and policies that give U.S. companies a “level playing field” when competing with foreign industries, protecting the second amendment, and his opposition to abortion. Issa frequently highlights his support for President Donald Trump.
A crowded field competed in the primary election to replace the retiring Rep. Susan Davis in the 53rd Congressional District, a 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. Two Democrats emerged.
Georgette Gómez (D)
Georgette Gómez is a community organizer and current San Diego City Council president, frequently noting that she is the first LGBTQ Latina elected to the position.
Gómez says she would help provide universal healthcare under a Medicare-for-all system and “take on the prescription drug companies that continue to gouge working families.”
Her campaign also highlights introducing “tougher” gun safety laws, directing resources to “underserved communities,” expanding affordable housing options, addressing climate change, and making college more affordable.
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.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacobs unveiled a plan that she says will help small businesses survive the recession by “fixing the Payment Protection Plan,” simplifying the process for companies to get loans and using small businesses to address other challenges of the pandemic.
Her campaign’s stated priorities also include racial justice reform, universal healthcare via Medicare for all, rolling back parts of the Republican tax reform bill and closing the gender pay gap.
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 Republican mayor in Orange County.
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 his work advocating for veterans and securing funds for Camp Pendleton, which his district includes.
While in office, Levin says he’s supported legislation to expand voting rights and “remove the corrupting influence of ‘dark money’ from American politics.”
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, and improve the health care system by helping lower drug costs and increase competition.
The mayor’s campaign positions him as someone “who knows how to use commonsense leadership.” Maryott says he supports environmental protections based in “a sensible, science-based approach, not costly and extreme manifestos.”
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 investing 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 unsuccessfully against Vargas in 2016 and 2018.
Hidalgo’s website says he will prioritize supporting law enforcement, the military and border security, while overseeing the local economy with “free enterprise” and “limited government interference.” He also promises to invest in education.
Rep. Scott Peters is defending his seat in the 52nd Congressional District, representing a portion of coastal San Diego and the central county.
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, strengthening and expanding on the Affordable Care Act, providing veterans services, and rights for women and the LGBTQ community.
Jim DeBello (R)
Jim DeBello is the former CEO of publicly traded Mitek Systems. Before Mitek, DeBello worked at Qualcomm.
DeBello states on his website that “outrageous Federal deficit spending must end” and says that he supports stripping some congressional perks from both parties until the budget is balanced.
He also says he will invest in the military, including adding 60 Navy ships, and support “humane enforcement” of the border and immigration law.
For more information on these candidates, check the links in our Voter Resources list, and make sure to check out our entire 2020 November Election Guide.