SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Republican Party made an early endorsement Tuesday for the June 8 special election in the 79th Assembly District, putting its weight behind Marco Contreras.
The seat was vacated by Shirley Weber last month when she became California's Secretary of State. Weber was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill the vacancy caused by his appointment of Alex Padilla to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris.
The 79th District primary will be April 6. The California Democratic Party on Monday endorsed Weber's daughter, La Mesa City Council Vice Mayor Akilah Weber, to succeed her mother in representing the district that encompasses southeastern San Diego and parts of Chula Vista, Bonita, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and National City.
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Until Contreras threw his hat into the ring, no Republican candidates had officially declared a run for the seat.
San Diego Republican Party Chairwoman Paula Whitsell released a statement endorsing Contreras.
"The vacancy presents an amazing opportunity for Republicans to represent a larger group of people and further the ideals and values that make the party what it is today," she said. "Marco Contreras embodies those ideas and values. Born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana, he is the embodiment of working hard to fulfill the American Dream."
Contreras attended Marian Catholic High School in San Diego, where he played football, and graduated from the University of San Diego. He owns Rancho Custom Brokers, which provides U.S. Customs compliance and consulting services.
Contreras said he is seeking the seat "because I believe our community needs a new and effective approach to leadership."
"I want to be a voice in our government that stands for providing safety to our cities, a voice that stands for a financially sound approach to government, and a voice that stands for preserving the future and potential of our children by putting education first," he said.
"I'm running to serve our community by fighting to protect our rights and freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. I'm running because I believe there is greatness on the inside of every human being, and it is the job of every elected official to vote for policies that will help each person fulfill their own American Dream. I'm ready to fight for a better San Diego and a better California."
Contreras faces an uphill battle. The 79th Assembly District is San Diego's most diverse with double the number of registered Democrats to Republicans, 44.75%-22.03%. Weber won the seat over Republican John Moore in 2020 by nearly 31 points.
Weber was first elected to the 79th District seat in 2012 and was never seriously challenged for the position in four consecutive elections, winning the general elections over Republican and American Independent challengers by 20+ point margins.
Her daughter said she was "humbled by the outpouring of support our campaign received ... from grassroots Democratic Party leaders and activists who live in every corner of the 79th Assembly District.
"In the state Assembly, I'll fight for the progressive and inclusive values of our Democratic Party and work hard to deliver relief and results for San Diego County residents," she said.