Early leaders emerge in race for Issa's seat

Democrat Doug Applegate nearly beat Congressman Darrell Issa in the 2016 election.

And Republican state assemblyman Rocky Chavez represents hundreds of thousands of North County residents in Sacramento.

Voters know both of them - and that's partly why they're the early leaders in the 10News Union-tribune scientific poll of who will ultimately earn Darrell Issa's longtime house seat.

Among 510 likely voters, the poll shows Applegate leading with 18 percent of the vote, and Chavez trailing with 17 percent.

"It's a measure of who voters know at this point," said political analyst Laura Fink. "For the other candidates it means that they have got to get their name out there and get to know the voters, and more importantly have the voters get to know them."
    
Issa announced last month he would not defend the seat he held for nearly 20 years.

Five republicans then declared, joining an already charged up group of democrats. 

Available campaign finance filings show three of those new democrats - Sara Jacobs, Mike Levin and Paul Kerr - have more than $1 million to spend on getting their name out.

That's why political analyst John Dadian says they shouldn't be concerned about polling in the single digits. 

"Once they get their message out, that's where you're going to see these numbers change," Dadian said. 
    
The 49th district encompasses parts of coastal North San Diego County and southern Orange County. 

Democrats have been fiercely trying to turn it blue since Issa narrowly won in 2016. 

And while our poll showed just 44 percent approve of Issa's performance - a fresh Republican face - who isn't linked to President Trump - may fare better in a push to keep the seat red.

"This is an election where you may be voting on a local person, but really what you're voting for our against is what's happening at the executive," Fink said. 

The poll also found that the border wall was the most important issue to republicans, while democrats and independents identified the president's performance as most important to them. 
 

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