DCCC Gets Behind Issa Challenger

Doug Applegate is giving longtime GOP incumbent a surprisingly close race

California Rep. Darrell Issa won his last race with 60 percent of the vote but faces a tougher challenge this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Thursday that it is getting behind Doug Applegate in his race against California Rep. Darrell Issa.

Applegate, a retired Marine Corps colonel, did surprisingly well against Issa in the district's June primary, finishing with 45 percent of the vote to the incumbent's 51 percent. In California primary elections, the top two finishers regardless of party face off in the general.

[Darrell Issa Gets a Viable Challenger]

The DCCC's Red to Blue program provides financial, communications and strategic support to candidates. It also helps introduce new candidates to Democrats across the country to help them expand their fundraising base.

"As a part of the Red to Blue program, Col. Applegate will continue to build on his formidable grassroots organization to make sure families in California’s 49th Congressional district get the leadership they deserve," DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said.

Applegate has tried tying Issa to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom Issa has backed since Trump won the Republican nomination.

A poll conducted for Applegate's campaign in August gave Issa a 45 percent to 41 percent lead with 13 percent of voters undecided.

[Challenger's Poll Shows Close Race Against Issa]

But Applegate still faces a tough fight in the district, which Mitt Romney carried by 6 points against President Barack Obama in 2012.

Applegate is also lagging in fundraising, having reported only $136,000 in cash on hand as of June 30. In contrast, Issa, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, had $3.8 million in the bank at the end of June.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.