VISTA, Calif. (CN) – More than 300 protesters gathered this week at Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s Vista, California, office in a grassroots effort being watched nationwide, as the congressman grapples with the changing politics of his traditionally Republican district.
Protesters have been showing up weekly for “Resist Trump Tuesdays” at Issa’s district office, since President Donald Trump’s unexpected election win last November. Issa was an early and strong supporter of Trump’s campaign, a political move which may have been why Issa was reelected by just over 1,600 votes in November over newcomer Democrat Doug Applegate.
Issa has served in the House since 2001.
Since the election, Issa’s constituents – which include residents from northern San Diego cities including Del Mar, Oceanside and Carlsbad, as well as Ladera Ranch in south Orange County – had been putting the pressure on their congressman to hold a town hall meeting to get their input on the current administration’s priorities.
Issa dodged their requests for an in-person town hall for weeks, citing the high costs involved. He claimed the San Diego Sheriff’s Department had previously charged him $50,000 for security services at a town hall in 2009, so he preferred to have phone-in town hall conversations. But a public records request to the sheriff’s department by one of Issa’s constituents revealed the congressman was charged $6,000 for security, not the $50,000 he had claimed.
Residents of the 49th District even crowd-funded $6,000 for a full-page ad in The San Diego Union Tribune asking Issa to show up at a town hall they planned last month. Issa did not attend, citing a scheduling conflict.
But last weekend, Issa held back-to-back town hall discussions focused on the Republicans’ replacement of former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law. But now that the congressman has met with concerned citizens from his district, those Tuesday protesters haven’t backed off putting pressure on their representative to resist Trump’s policies.
Who Are the Protesters?
The group of more than 300 protesters at Issa’s office Tuesday appeared to be mostly older white people. Many held signs and yelled chants including “Forward together, not one step back,” “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Darrell Issa has got to go” and “If you go with [Paul] Ryan, you’ll be crying.”
At one point the protesters turned around to face Issa’s office and yell, “We’re not paid!” in response to comments made by Issa, Trump and other GOP representatives that protesters who’ve shown up to their offices and public engagements in droves are paid by opposition groups.
Paul Terwilliger told Courthouse News he’s been showing up to the Tuesday protests for weeks and that he’s particularly concerned about environmental-protection rollbacks and health care.
He said Issa, like Trump, does not represent the people and that he’s looking forward to the 2018 midterm elections, when he believes many Republicans will be ousted.
“It won’t be just us. It will be a nation fed up with what the Republican Party has done. The terrorists are in Washington, not across the border,” Terwilliger said.
He said he believes the Issa protests have maintained momentum because “our future and the country’s future depend on it.”