Three political newcomers take on Issa in 49th Congressional District

By Joe Tash

On June 5, residents of the 49th Congressional District will choose between four candidates to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives: Republican Darrell Issa, who seeks his seventh term, and three political newcomers who have never run for office before.

A lot has changed since the last congressional election in 2010: for one thing, the boundaries of the district have been redrawn following the 2010 census, as they are every decade. The new district includes Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar and Solana Beach, and, according to Issa, contains only about 31 percent of territory from the previous district boundaries.

Secondly, California’s new open primary law means all voters, regardless of political registration, will be able to vote for all candidates on the ballot. The top two vote-getters in June will face off in a November run-off election.

The field of candidates for the 49th District includes Issa, Democrat Jerry Tetalman and independents Al Novinec and Dick Eiden.

The newly redrawn district covers the coast of North San Diego County and Orange County, from just south of Del Mar to San Juan Capistrano, and also takes in Camp Pendleton and Vista. The district’s voter registration is 40 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat and 24 percent no party preference, according the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

The three challengers will take part in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, at MiraCosta College in Oceanside. Challengers said they invited Issa to take part, but were told his schedule would not allow him to participate in any debates before the June primary election. An email inquiry to Issa’s campaign regarding the debate was not returned by presstime.

Recently, this newspaper ran a Q&A interview with Issa. Today, we profile the three challengers, in alphabetical order.

Dick Eiden

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Dick Eiden

Eiden, 66, a Vista resident, is a long-time political activist and retired attorney who is running for Congress as an independent. Although he has registered in the past as both a Democrat and a Green Party member, Eiden said he did not want to be identified on the ballot as representing any specific political party.

Rather, he said, he wanted to challenge the nature of the current two-party system that dominates congressional and presidential politics.

“We need somebody who’s not owned by the military-industrial-financial complex,” he said. “If we continue to follow and rely on the two parties we’ll have more of the same, war after war and crisis after crisis.”

“We need to talk about how we can get out of that vicious cycle and out of being the policemen of the world… it’s killing us,” Eiden said.

Eiden’s campaign slogan is “End War, Rebuild America.” Along with cutting back on military spending, he said he would support “rebuilding” the U.S. educational system and spending more money on infrastructure.

Eiden is married to Kathleen Cannon, who recently retired from the San Diego County Public Defender’s office. He left his own legal practice in the mid-’90s to stay at home with the couple’s two young children. During his legal career, he represented clients in a range of civil rights, criminal and deportation issues.

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