Issa’s Democratic Challengers Combined Raise More Than Him

Issa still has a huge advantage in cash on hand

Mike Levin, a Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, raised more than double that of Democrat Doug Applegate, who came within about 1,000 votes of unseating the incumbent in 2016. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic challengers to California Rep. Darrell Issa raised more money combined than the Republican incumbent in the third quarter.

Environmental lawyer Mike Levin, who jumped into the race in March, raised $300,874.66 — more than double the $147,553.95 raised by retired Marine Corps Col. Doug Applegate, who narrowly lost to Issa last year and is gunning for a rematch.

And real estate investor Paul Kerr, who is largely self-funded and announced in July, shows he had more than $504,000 in total receipts. While that is more than Issa, Applegate and Levin, his report showed Kerr gave his campaign $262,727 out of his own pocket.

Still, Issa had a healthy quarter and raised $434,707.69.

There is a temptation to see the Applegate and Levin’s campaigns as a rehash of 2016 presidential primary on the Democratic side as Applegate boosted Sen. Bernie Sanders and Levin is a former member of Hillary Clinton’s national finance committee.

But both are running decidedly left-wing policies. Both support single-payer health care and Levin supports making college tuition-free at four-year public institutions for families making up to $125,000 a year.

Levin also has double the amount Applegate has in cash on hand, holding $530,326.10 to Applegate's 263,159.59. Kerr held $229,039.53 in cash on hand, the lowest of the three candidates.

As one of the richest members of Congress, Issa far outpaces them in cash on hand, reporting $852,028.27 in his campaign war chest.

Issa beat Applegate by just 1,621 votes in 2016. That, along with the fact his district broke for Hillary Clinton, has made him a prime target for Democrats. 

In September, a judge ordered that Issa pay Applegate $45,000 for legal expenses after Issa sued Applegate saying that Applegate’s advertisements hurt Issa’s reputation, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. 

Issa’s lawyers said they were appealing the decision.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates California’s 49th District a Tossup.

Clarification 9 a.m. | An earlier version of this story did not include Paul Kerr’s fundraising figures. 

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