by Tom Frew
California’s 50th Congressional district (CD50) covers most of eastern San Diego County, extending from Temecula in Riverside County southward through Fallbrook, San Marcos and Escondido down to Rancho San Diego. The district stretches east to Imperial County. There were about 730,000 residents of this district in 2013, according to U.S. census data. The CD50 incumbent congressman is Republican Duncan D. Hunter, a four term member of the House of Representatives.
Most political observers rate CD50 as “safe Republican”. Registered Republicans outnumber the Democrats by a wide margin. Hunter has name recognition, plus significant campaign funds. At the end of last quarter, on December 31st, 2015, Hunter had $601,000 on hand for the 2016 election, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Duncan Hunter won the 2014 election with 71% of the vote. However, 55% of the registered voters in CD50 did not even bother to vote. These are enough people to change the political landscape.
Hunter’s representation of the district is denying this area of San Diego County a progressive voice in Congress. Although he represents a district that is 30% Hispanic, Congressman Hunter recently endorsed Donald Trump for president, citing his agreement with Trump’s proposed immigration policies.
Always tilting toward the Tea Party caucus of the Republican party, Hunter has voted numerous times to repeal or defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood, programs that provide basic health care to those who need it. The unemployment rate of CD50 at 11% is more than double the national average, per the bureau of labor statistics. Using supply-side arguments, Representative Hunter suggests that taking away people’s health care can add jobs.
Patrick Malloy, an Escondido resident and small business owner, has stepped forward to challenge Duncan Hunter in this year’s election. Malloy is a Democrat inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s example of creating jobs and stimulating the economy by improving America’s infrastructure, just as Republican President Dwight Eisenhower did by creating the interstate highway system.
After years of neglect from congressional budget cutters, San Diego County’s infrastructure is ill prepared for current conditions and the modernization needs of the 21st century, including the switch to sustainable energy. Patrick Malloy has dreams for investments in southern California’s infrastructure. Farmers impacted by the drought need reliable water transportation systems for irrigation. Aging underground pipes in population centers are leaking out precious water that cannot be replenished. Overhead fraying electrical lines spark wildfires in dry brush. Highways and bridges need repair.
Candidate Malloy intends to immediately introduce a measure to rebuild crumbling infrastructure and create jobs. Malloy’s proposal to pay for these infrastructure projects is to bring home the billions of construction dollars being wasted trying to rebuild the war torn economies in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little or no accountability.
The husband of a naturalized American, Patrick Malloy supports immigration reform. As a real estate specialist, Malloy understands the aspirations of young families. He intends to introduce legislation during his first month in office designed to encourage home ownership. Malloy advocates increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 to help hard working people support their families. These measures will further grow the economy by adding to the labor supply necessary to local businesses, expanding State revenue, and increasing home ownership.
Patrick Malloy stands for equal pay for women, and protecting a woman’s reproductive health rights. This is in contrast to Congressman Hunter who voted no on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women during his first year in Congress, who once introduced a measure to outlaw all abortions even in cases of rape or where a mother’s life is in danger, and has voted to weaken the Violence Against Women Act.
As mentioned above, 55% of CD50’s registered voters did not even cast a ballot in the last election. These missing votes apparently belong to apathetic Democrats, so called independents, and those registered with no party preference. With his name recognition, a huge fundraising lead, and disinterested voters, Hunter could coast to easy re-election again.
However, if Republicans choose a reactionary candidate such as Trump or Cruz to lead their party into the November elections and the voters can be mobilized to turn out; down ballot candidates like Hunter could suddenly become vulnerable.
Tom Frew is a writer and retired aerospace engineer active with the North County Climate Change Alliance. He lives in Fallbrook with his wife, Joy.