Rep. Darrell Issa appears at Golden Hall on Election Night 2016. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Election season is always unpredictable. But since we’re a few days out from the June primary, I wanted to reflect on three twists in this particular primary I didn’t see coming, and that, to some extent, shaped the discussion around this campaign.

Darrell Issa bowed out: For a while after Rep. Darrell Issa won re-election by the narrowest of margins, it seemed like he was recommitting himself to the kind of old-school constituent work he’d let slide when he had no serious challengers. He handed out Starbucks drinks in Oceanside. He made semi-regular appearances at his campaign office (though they were always last-minute, suggesting they were far more about optics than a real effort to engage with constituents). And for some reason, he walked around on a roof.

And then, he quit. He announced in January that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election. So, instead of a fierce race on the Democratic side to see who would challenge the long-time lawmaker, the race for the 49th District has become a free-for-all, with several candidates on both sides all running relatively close together, a ton of money, round-the-clock TV ads and general chaos. I honestly have no idea of what will happen in this race come Tuesday.

Sex work takes center stage in the DA debate: Though interim District Attorney Summer Stephan has long been known for her work to combat sex trafficking, I never saw this debate coming — and yet it’s become arguably the premier issue in the race. When Stephan appeared on our podcast, she argued there’s virtually no such thing as volunteer sex work. That drew a fiery response from her opponent, Genevieve Jones-Wright, who argued Stephan’s view imposed her morals on people by suggesting women engaged in sex work didn’t have any agency. We heard from many advocates in the human trafficking world who agreed with Stephan, and academics and sex workers who agreed with Jones-Wright. It’s been fascinating to see this kind of substantive debate about marginalized groups of women unfold, led by two powerful women.

Guns dominate D4 attack ads: Us nerds who watch these races closely had been focused on issues like homelessness, housing and the county’s stash of reserve money. So it was a surprise when mailboxes started getting flooded with ads about something the county supervisors rarely deal with: guns. Mailers funded by the Lincoln Club “are meant to confuse voters into thinking (Nathan) Fletcher, a Democrat since 2013, does not currently support stricter gun control,” notes KPBS. It’s quite disingenuous in many ways: It’s meant to look like an ad targeted toward gun-loving Republicans, but it’s counting on people with disdain for guns turning against Fletcher. And the Lincoln Club itself certainly isn’t promoting stricter gun control.

What VOSD Learned This Week

This is big: This year’s homeless census excluded hundreds of people living in RVs and those being served at the San Diego Rescue Mission – populations that have been included in previous years. If those people had been factored in, the numbers would have shown an increase in homelessness, not the decrease leaders touted in a press conference.


Liquor store owners and the trade group that represents them have many ties to legal and illegal marijuana dispensaries. Though Proposition 64 attempted to keep the two worlds apart, they’re colliding across San Diego.


The district attorney’s race has featured substantive discussions on many criminal justice issues, and Andrew Keatts explored one more: when and how it’s appropriate to charge juvenile offenders as adults. In the District 4 race for county supervisor, Lisa Halverstadt posted her final in-depth look at the candidates, this one focusing on why Bonnie Dumanis left her powerful position as DA to run for supervisor. Speaking of those races, our video guru Adriana Heldiz made this cool explainer about five races that will be decided on Tuesday. There are also many high-level statewide contests happening, and some of the communities near the border are starting to get fatigued by the wave of candidates coming in to campaign. If you think you can see into the future and predict how things will shake out on Tuesday, send in your picks for our election contest.


The San Diego County Grand Jury has been examining lots of weighty issues lately, and its newest report suggests the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board should re-examine the practices and procedures that led to 22 death investigations getting dismissed.


Just like that, the San Diego County Water Authority now supports the massive Delta tunnels project. And speaking of environmental issues, China no longer wants our recycling, which could mean San Diego might start having to pay companies to take it, instead of the other way around.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.” – Ashleigh Koss, the head of media relations for the company that makes Ambien, had a good little clapback to Roseanne’s claim that the drug was responsible for her racist tweet.

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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