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Issa Announces Run for Seat in Congress

The San Diego County businessman who lost GOP Senate bid last year wants the office Packard will vacate.


San Diego County businessman Darrell Issa, who spent $10 million on his U.S. Senate bid last year in the Republican primary, said Friday he will run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Ron Packard, who is retiring.

Issa, 46, made the announcement for the largely Republican 48th District from the Vista headquarters of his business, Directed Electronics, a car-alarm system company.

"I am convinced that our party, and our nation, need new leaders who are willing to takes risks, stand up for their beliefs and tell it like it is," Issa said in prepared remarks.

If elected, Issa said in an interview, his main concerns will be defense spending, taxation, illegal immigration and making sure the district gets "its fair share" of gas tax money for roads and infrastructure.

Issa joins state Sen. Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside) in the race for the 48th District, which runs from Laguna Hills to north San Diego County and includes Temecula in Riverside County.

Democrat Peter Kouvelis, a former Marine captain from Dana Point, also is a candidate in the March primary. Among others mentioned as potential candidates are former Rep. Robert K. Dornan and Assemblyman Bruce Thompson (R-Fallbrook).

Issa said he likes Morrow, but took a jibe at Dornan, a Garden Grove resident who owns a vacant parcel in the 48th District. "I think the district should be represented by somebody who lives here," Issa said.

On Nov. 3, Packard said he would not seek reelection and would instead retire at the end of his term after 18 years in Congress.

Issa, saying he has developed "a passion to serve," lauded Packard's commitment to his district and promised to follow that path if elected.

He said he built a strong volunteer and fund-raising base in the district during his failed Senate run and ran well in the area. He did not say how much of his personal wealth he would invest in a congressional race.

"I am confident that the voters who cast their ballots for me as a Senate candidate in 1998 will vote to make me their congressman in 2000," Issa said in his prepared statement.

Morrow could not be reached for comment Friday, but in a recent interview he was low-key about the prospects of facing Issa.

Times Staff Writer Tony Perry contributed to this report.

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