Darrell Issa, the former combative House Oversight Committee chairman who took on the Obama administration, inched closer to making his political comeback after Super Tuesday.
With all the precincts reporting, Issa had nearly 5,000 more votes than Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Councilman, and appeared to secure his name on the general election ballot for California's 50th Congressional district that is currently vacant.
The top two finishers advance to the November election. The Democrat vying for the San Diego County seat, Ammar Campa-Najja, was in first place with 34 percent of the tally and over 42,300 votes.
The Associated Press hadn't yet called the second-place finisher slot yet, but Issa so far had secured more than 30,600 votes (25 percent) compared to DeMaio, with 25,800 votes (21 percent).
Issa, the wealthy car alarm magnate, served in the House for 18 years and announced in 2018 he wouldn’t seek re-election in his 49th congressional district. The open seat flipped blue to Democrat Mike Levin two years ago.
But Issa staged a comeback bid this year in the 50th district, a neighboring seat that is solidly red. He's been locked in a nasty, expensive race with DeMaio, a radio talk show host.
The winner in November will succeed former Rep. Duncan Hunter, who resigned from office in January after pleading guilty to a single count of conspiracy to misuse at least $150,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. Hunter, whose dad was a congressman before him, will be sentenced March 17.
DeMaio, the first openly gay man on the San Diego city council and well-known political commentator, and Issa have slugged it out over who is more loyal to Trump. Both have accused each other of lying.
Trump has not endorsed in the race.
The San Diego Union-Tribune, the largest local newspaper, was fed up with both candidates and declined to endorse either Issa or DeMaio, who don't live in the district. The paper supported Democrat Campa-Najja, who received the most votes, and Republican state Sen. Brian Jones on the GOP side, who finished a distant fourth place.