San Diego Supervisor Kristin Gaspar to run for Issa’s seat in Congress


After a trip to Washington D.C last week, San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar has formed a committee to run for Congress.

Federal Election Commission records show Gaspar formed a committee to run for a seat held by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista. Issa announced earlier this month that he will not run for re-election, a decision that brought a wave of Republican hopefuls into the conservative-leaning district.

Gaspar joined the Board of Supervisors last year after defeating Democrat Dave Roberts. She campaigned on her credentials running her family-owned physical therapy business, her work as mayor of Encinitas and work in the community, particularly with her children’s schools and cheerleading teams.

She also campaigned against Roberts and a scandal involving his staff that dogged him during the second half of his term. Four members of Roberts staff abruptly resigned in spring 2015 and accused the supervisor of using his employees to assist with his campaign, hostility, and of having an improper, but non-sexual relationship with a member of his staff. Roberts denied all of the allegations. Three of the women filed legal claims that the county settled for $310,000.

Jason Roe was Gaspar’s consultant in the 2016 race, and Federal Election Commission paperwork for her campaign includes his office’s address. Roe has run other successful GOP campaigns, including for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

In her first meeting as a supervisor, Gaspar was the sole vote against a 12.5 percent pay raise for board members. She said that, as a businesswoman, she determines compensation for employees based on the job.

“Awkwardly, I sit here, having been sworn in just 24 hours ago, and I can be the first to admit that I don’t know how to get past that first fundamental question,” she said before the vote.

When the pay hike took effect, Gaspar accepted the hike.

“Not accepting it would create a disparity among supervisors who all perform the same job serving the public,” she said in a statement in March.

Gaspar was a swing vote on a bill that banned new marijuana dispensaries and farms in the county, creating a moratorium weeks after Californians passed Proposition 64, a ballot measure that legalizes, regulates and taxes marijuana. In San Diego County, 57 percent of voters supported Prop 64 with its strongest support in Encinitas, where Gaspar served as mayor. More than 65 percent of Encinitas voters backed the proposition.

Gaspar, 38, who recently became chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors, was on Capitol Hill last week, where she met for 10 minutes with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Issa, R-Vista, announced earlier this month that he’s not running for re-election, a decision that prompted a series of Republicans to jump into the race for the GOP-leaning seat. Gaspar joins Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey, R-San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano Councilman Brian Maryott and patent lawyer Joshua Schoonover.

Across the aisle, Issa’s opponent from 2016, Doug Applegate, is running again. Attorney Mike Levin, businessman Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs, the former CEO of an international non-profit, are also running as Democrats.

The seat has become one of the most-watched in this year’s midterms after Issa defeated Applegate by 1,621 votes in 2016, the closest margin of any federal race in the country.

About 37 percent of voters are registered Republicans, while another 31 percent are Democrats and 26.5 percent do not belong to a party. The district runs from La Jolla and up the coast to Dana Point in Orange County. The San Diego portion of the district has about 75 percent of the voters.

Gaspar’s supervisor seat includes Del Mar, Encinitas, and Solana Beach — all of which overlap with the congressional district — as well as Escondido.

--Joshua Stewart is a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune.