“As a Marine Colonel, I know that the hardest fights often take a couple of battles — and I look forward to continuing our fight in the days, weeks, and months ahead,” Applegate said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“That’s why I’m announcing my intention to run for Congress in 2018. This community deserves leadership that puts people ahead of partisan politics,” the Democrat said.
The Associated Press called the race on Monday evening — nearly three weeks after Election Day — with Issa leading Applegate 51 to 49 percent.
Defeating Issa, a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s administration, became a major priority for Democrats this fall. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Applegate to its Red to Blue program in September.
Issa, the wealthiest member of Congress, is the former chairman of the Government and Oversight Reform Committee. He’d never faced a competitive election before, securing re-election in 2014 by 20 points.
As of Oct. 19, at the end of the pre-general election reporting period to the Federal Election Commission, Applegate had $287,000 in his campaign account.