2018 midterms

How Darrell Issa Could Return to Washington As Indicted Congressman’s Successor

Hunter’s torment could lead to a comeback by Issa. Photo: Sandy Huffaker; Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

The heavily indicted Republican congressman Duncan Hunter could well lose his seat to Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in November. But the San Diego–area 50th Congressional District is strongly Republican, and a post-indictment poll showed Hunter still comfortably in the lead. One scenario being kicked around in California is that Hunter will survive the election, but then be forced to resign either as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors or because he can’t cast House votes from the slammer. If that happens, a very familiar name could reenter the political scene, as noted by veteran political reporter Dan Walters:

Names of possible GOP successors are already circulating, including conservative activist and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who had weighed running against Hunter, and Congressman Darrell Issa, who had decided not to seek re-election this year in the adjacent, less conservative 49th CD rather than face possible defeat.

Darrell Issa?!?! Didn’t the star of innumerable Obama-era investigations, from Fast and Furious to the alleged IRS persecution of conservatives to Benghazi!, hang it all up earlier this year? Yes, he did, but mostly because he didn’t want to face an uphill reelection campaign. And within days, Issa was reportedly taking an avaricious look at Hunter’s adjacent 50th District with its more securely Republican profile, as the Hill reported back in January:

GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, who said Wednesday he is not seeking reelection in California’s 49th District, has been discussing with colleagues the possibility of running in a neighboring San Diego district if embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) resigns, multiple sources told The Hill.

Some of these discussions happened as recently as Wednesday, the day Issa announced he would not be running for reelection in his coastal Southern California district after 17 years in the House….

[I]n his statement, Issa never specifically said he was retiring from Congress.

Hunter did not, as it happens, decide to get out of Issa’s way. But he might not have much choice about it before long if he cannot find a better defense than “it was my wife’s fault” or “this is a Democratic conspiracy” to deal with the charges of massive malfeasance he is facing.

And even if Hunter loses in November, Issa might contemplate a comeback in 2020 in the 50th. Although it seems like he’s been around forever, he’s only 64, a relative tyke by current standards, and as a very wealthy man it’s not like he needs to go earn an honest living.

A truly just dessert for Issa would be for him to return next year to a Democratic-controlled House that is consumed with multiple investigations of a certain Republican administration. It would be mad fun to listen to him complain about overzealous inquisitors.

Duncan Hunter Scandal Could Lead to Darrell Issa Comeback