Meet the Bernie-loving Marine who might bring down GOP firebrand Darrell Issa
In 2000, Darrell Issa was first elected to Congress by more than 30 points. When his district was redrawn in 2012, Issa won by “only” 16 points. But this year, for the first time, the Republican who represents California’s 49th Congressional District faces a real challenge, and could well go down to defeat. In the open primary this year, Democrat Doug Applegate, a retired Marine colonel — the first in his family to attend college — came within five points of Issa, and he’s been gaining steam ever since.
After a late September poll showed Applegate leading Issa 46-42, the race was highlighted nationally when President Obama called Issa “Trump before Trump,” holding him up as a prime example of how dysfunctional and dishonest the House GOP has become. This after Issa produced an especially mendacious campaign mailer portraying himself as Obama’s bipartisan partner.
“Darrell Issa, a member of Congress who once called for my impeachment, who questioned where I was born, is now advertising, claiming we worked together. We can’t let this stand,” Obama said, going on to endorse Applegate as an “exceptional candidate” whose Marine Corps background makes clear that he knows “true patriotism is about serving our country in any way we can. That our duty as citizens is to keep America strong and working for all of us.”
Those aren’t just lofty words, however. What’s apparent on the ground is a remarkable illustration of a new book I wrote about recently, “Asymmetric Politics,” by political scientists Matt Grossmann and David Hopkins. They make clear that the two parties are essentially different: The Democratic Party is focused on producing concrete solutions for citizens, whereas the Republican Party is obsessed with conservative ideological purity.
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