Darrell Issa, who built a reputation in Congress as an imposing conservative attack dog, has got a brand new bag.
With Democrats closing in on his seat last fall, Issa mailed a campaign ad praising President Barack Obama for signing a victims rights bill Issa supported — the same Obama he unrelentingly criticized while serving as the high-profile chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
The pro-life congressman, who squeaked out reelection to a ninth term by 0.7 percentage points, told constituents at a town hall March 11 that he opposed fellow Republicans’ call to defund Planned Parenthood.
Despite a lifetime legislative score of just 4 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, Issa also told the crowd that he also opposed any reduction in funding to the Environmental Protection Agency. Two days later, the same politician who’s said there’s no consensus on climate change joined the House Climate Solutions Caucus.
He’s expressed reservations with the GOP’s proposed replacement to Obamacare and has taken other steps to distance himself from President Donald Trump, even though he endorsed Trump last year and introduced him at a San Diego rally.
“He is certainly changing his message to appeal to moderates and even left-leaning Democrats,” said Graeme Boushey, a UC Irvine political scientist. “I think he’s making a calculated political decision and maybe a correct one. He was disliked by the same voters he’s trying to win over now. It’s a hard pivot to make and sell to voters, but it’s very practical.”
Issa‘s district, which straddles the Orange-San Diego county line, is a traditionally Republican stronghold that’s trending blue. The GOP’s voter-registration advantage of 14 percentage points in 2012 was cut in half by November’s election, and the district favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Daily Kos analysis. A quarter of the district’s voters are…