A new report in the Orange County Register suggests that Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) of San Diego has turned to the left after nearly losing his congressional seat in the 2016 election, in a state where being anti-Trump may help (or not).
“He is certainly changing his message to appeal to moderates and even left-leaning Democrats,” Graeme Boushey, a UC Irvine political scientist, told the Register. “I think he’s making a calculated political decision and maybe a correct one. He was disliked by the same voters he’s trying to win over now. It’s a hard pivot to make and sell to voters, but it’s very practical.”
Issa was one of President Donald Trump’s biggest supporters in the election (after initially supporting Sen. Marco Rubio). However, he has recently become critical of certain members of Trump’s Cabinet, and has distanced himself from the commander-in-chief on issues such as alleged Russian collusion during the campaign (for which there is no evidence).
Breitbart News previously reported that Issa’s campaign had conducted an internal poll that showed a 10-point drop in his favorability ratings between mid-October and early December, which was in part attributed to his support for President Donald Trump.
Issa narrowly defeated Democrat Doug Applegate by a mere 0.6 percent (or 1,600 votes) in November. Applegate has indicated his intention to run again in 2018.
The Register notes that Issa’s decline in popularity has resulted in a policy shift to the left. The publication reported, “Despite a lifetime legislative score of just 4 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, Issa also told the crowd that he also opposed any reduction in funding to the Environmental Protection Agency. Two days later, the same politician who’s said there’s no consensus on climate change joined the House Climate Solutions Caucus.”
Issa, who is pro-life, reportedly also told constituents during his March 11 town all that he opposed calls from his fellow Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood. He has also pushed back against the Republican Party’s proposed replacement of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Although Issa’s district is a traditionally a Republican stronghold, it has begun trending blue. However, not every Republican who broke with Trump to appease voters has succeeded. Scott Jones, who ran for Congress in the 7th district last year, suffered defeat to incumbent Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) after he broke with Trump late in the campaign.
Conversely, others in the GOP have stuck with President Trump, who has remained popular with Republicans and among many conservative voters.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz.