LOS ANGELES (AP) - Endangered Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is planning to meet with hundreds of voters in his Southern California district this weekend, but he’s going to friendly turf to do it.
Issa has scheduled a town hall Saturday in Republican-tilting San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, and the system his office used to distribute tickets has led to criticism that he’s trying to salt the crowd with supporters, a claim his office disputes.
“We make an effort throughout the year to make sure all constituents have a chance to weigh in,” Issa spokesman Calvin Moore said. “This is not the first town hall. It’s not going to be the last.”
Issa, the wealthiest member of Congress with a fortune estimated at more than $250 million, was narrowly re-elected last year in his San Diego-area district. Two Democrats have said they will try to oust him, environmental lawyer Mike Levin and Marine-turned-lawyer Doug Applegate, his opponent in 2016.
Issa is among a handful of California House Republicans who are defending districts that Hillary Clinton carried in last year’s presidential campaign, and they are expected to face tough re-election campaigns with President Donald Trump widely unpopular in the strongly Democratic state.
Issa’s challenge was showcased on Twitter Tuesday, where he posted photos of himself and a crowd of what appeared to be mostly protesters outside his office, who carried signs that said “Impeach” and “Issa killed your health insurance.”
Levin, who was at the protest, tweeted a photograph of the congressman standing alone on the roof of the building and taking a photograph of the crowd below. In the post, Levin quipped that his rival was “too afraid to come speak with assembled constituents below.”
Issa wrote on Twitter that he “spent the morning talking with constituents gathered outside the office today, then popped upstairs to take a quick pic!”
Issa told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he attempted to speak with the protesters, but they would not have a conversation with him. Ellen Montanari, who organizes weekly protests at Issa’s office, told the newspaper that she tried to shake Issa’s hand and was rebuffed.
In March the congressman, who campaigned for Trump, faced angry protesters and questions about health care, climate change and immigration at a town hall in Oceanside.
Questions about Issa’s vote for a GOP health care bill in Congress are expected to dominate Saturday’s event.
Rep. Steve Knight, another endangered Republican, is holding a town hall Thursday in Santa Clarita, a Los Angeles suburb.
In a twist on the recent trend, Trump supporters on Tuesday night disrupted Democratic U.S. Rep. Lou Correa’s town hall meeting in Orange County.
A fight broke out between two women and a few minutes later a man struck another person in the head with the pole of his anti-fascist flag, The Orange County Register reported (https://bit.ly/2rDmTzx ). Police told the newspaper that the man was arrested on assault charges. Two women were detained.
Democrats in California hold every statewide office and control both chambers of the Legislature. National Democrats are looking to flip control of a series of congressional seats in California next year, as part of a strategy to retake control of the House.
Clinton trounced Trump in California by over 4 million votes.
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