Issa Challenger Came Out of Nowhere, Raised More Money

One of the more peculiar stories to come out of California's primary was the relative success of first-time Democratic candidate Doug Applegate, a lawyer and retired Marine colonel who launched an uphill campaign against Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista).

Issa outspent the political newcomer by more than $700,000 but Applegate still managed to claim 45.5% of the vote in the 49th Congressional District while Issa finished with 50.8%.

Issa walloped his 2012 and 2014 primary rivals by 30 and 33 percentage points, respectively. 

Applegate's showing was enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to take notice. The group put him in its "Red to Blue" program aimed at knocking off Republican incumbents this week and has begun drumming up support for him. Last month it commissioned and released a poll that showed the candidates tied with 43% of the vote while 14% of voters said they were undecided. 

Applegate's fundraising dramatically improved after his June 7 primary showing. He raised $53,000 in the run-up to the primary. From May 19 through June 30, he raised $130,000 to Issa's $99,000, according to the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission.

Applegate has a lot of ground to make up. Issa already has $3.7 million in the bank for the November election. And, of course, he happens to be the richest member of Congress.

Democrats are trying to use Issa's support of Republican nominee Donald Trump against him while touting Applegate's military credentials. They will have to overcome a GOP voter registration advantage of 8.5 points and do well among the one-quarter of voters who are registered with no party preference.

The money will have to flow to make this a competitive race, especially if you believe Applegate's claim that Issa told him as much in person at a July 4 parade.