Rolling up in wheelchairs and walkers, hobbling with bandaged heads and neck braces, hundreds of people who live in Rep. Darrell Issa’s district lined up outside his Vista, California, office.
“We saw your vote!” they chanted, their unified anger palpable from a portable PA system.
The people chanting were not injured, but dressed as the sick and dying to make a point about their anger at Issa’s “yes” vote on the House health care bill last week. The night before, a smaller group of them lit up make-shift large letters with LED lights over the I-5 freeway near Encinitas with the words, “Replace & Repeal Issa.”
“Our goal, now more than ever, is to get rid of Issa,” declared Ellen Montanari at a grassroots meeting leading up to the protests. “It’s all about flipping the 49th.”
The 49th refers to Issa’s congressional district, one of a number of districts where Hillary Clinton won but GOP members of Congress were still elected. These districts, considered vulnerable by national Democrats, are being targeted in the wake of the House vote on health care.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political committee that seeks to elect House Democrats, has rolled out radio and digital ads attacking Republican lawmakers who voted for the bill. Health care advocacy group Save My Care also began targeting 24 GOP members of Congress in a six-figure ad buy online and on television.
Critics in particular are hitting Issa hard because he was one of a handful of key undecided Republicans who voted “yes” on the bill.
The national attack is being married with voter grassroots rage that’s built since Donald Trump’s stunning election upset. Much of that anger has grown more organized with the Indivisible movement, made up of thousands of independent, grassroots groups across the country. Indivisible groups in northern San Diego have helped organize weekly protests outside Issa’s office, which were scheduled to end after Trump’s first 100 days in office.
Then the House health care vote spurred the groups to keep coming — and Tuesday’s protest had the largest group yet, according to organizers.
“I’m going to be working very, very hard to unseat him, no matter what it takes,” said Valarie McCourtney, who lives down the street from her lawmaker¹s office and came to protest with a boxful of her family’s prescription medications. “The first time I ever got health insurance is when I got Obamacare,” she said.
In regard to Issa, who she met during his town hall, she said, “I feel really betrayed. There was a sense he was being more moderate. He made a good show and I believed him. After this vote, there’s really no way that I can go back and ever believe in him.”
But Jerry Joyce, a registered Republican who is also on Obamacare, said he continues to support House Republicans because “something needs to be done.”
Joyce said for his family of five, his premiums have skyrocketed over the years and are now $1,575 a month with a $30,000 deductible.
Joyce urged Republicans to stop looking for political wins and focus on fixing the rising costs of Obamacare. “What they need to do is go out on a limb, get legislation passed, fix some of the big issues in the country — and I believe that 2018 will be a lot better for them than what I think they’re fearful of.”
Issa, the subject of the protest, didn’t hear any of the chants outside his office because he was traveling out of district, according to his office.
The congressman did release a statement. “I work hard to cultivate a productive and open line of communication with the people of California’s 49th district,” Issa said. “Throughout all those meetings, the most common story I hear is about how Obamacare is hurting Californians. I’ve made a commitment to repair the damage Obamacare has caused and I plan to deliver on that promise.”