Former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) confirmed on Thursday morning that he would officially be mounting a congressional comeback and running to unseat his one-time colleague Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA).
“I will be the next congressman from the 50th Congressional district,” Issa announced during a news conference in San Diego County. “I have the history, the skills, the seniority, and the capability to hit the ground running, not just for this district, but for California.”
“This will be a referendum on — am I the right person to come back and serve for a number of terms again in Congress?” he continued, before insisting that his campaign “will not be about the other guy.”
Issa is set to challenge Hunter, who was recently indicted on a bevy of federal charges — including wire fraud, falsifying records, conspiracy, and campaign finance violations. Hunter is facing a trial that is scheduled for only weeks ahead of the California primaries and therefore poses a significant risk to his incumbency.
Despite his pending federal charges, Hunter was able to maintain his congressional seat during the 2018 midterm elections, edging out his Democratic challenger by just over 9,000 votes in the consistently red district. However, after his indictment, he was forced to step down from his committee assignments and continues to serve his constituents without holding any committee seats.
Issa abstained from mentioning Hunter during Thursday’s press conference, but later revealed to reporters that he considers his situation to be “regrettable.”
“He deserves his day in court,” Issa told reporters. “But the 50th District does deserve to have the ability to retain this as a conservative district, and quite frankly, to have a member who can show up and take all of his committee assignments.”
Issa served in California’s 48th and then 49th Congressional District from 2001 until 2019, when he revealed that he would not be seeking re-election. During his tenure in the House, Issa served as the chairman of the prestigious House Government Reforms and Oversight Committee.
He garnered national media attention as a frequent critic of former President Barack Obama and his administration. After obtaining the Committee’s chairmanship in 2010, Issa became a vocal advocate for a a slew of investigations into the White House and publicly clashed with the former administration on issues such as the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative organizations, the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal, and the attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
President Donald Trump had nominated Issa to head the United States Trade and Development Agency more than a year ago. After his confirmation stalled in the Senate last week and his hearing was subsequently postponed indefinitely, Issa penned a letter to the president withdrawing his nomination. In the letter, the former California lawmaker expressed his gratitude and further blamed the postponement on “partisan obstructionism.”
“I am ready to move forward with an alternative opportunity to return to public service,” Issa wrote in reference to his congressional run. “I believe this opportunity will allow me to do even more to help you enact your agenda.”