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Democrat Has Edge in Race to Replace Retiring GOP Rep. Issa in Coastal Battleground District

Left, Mike Levin speaks at a 2018 midterm elections rally on Oct. 4, 2018, in Fullerton. Right, Diane Harkey in an undated photo. (Credit: left, Mario Tama/Getty Images; right, Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

Left, Mike Levin speaks at a 2018 midterm elections rally on Oct. 4, 2018, in Fullerton. Right, Diane Harkey in an undated photo. (Credit: left, Mario Tama/Getty Images; right, Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

The race for California’s 49th Congressional District, representing San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad and Encinitas, is a top target for Democrats hoping to gain control of the House of Representatives.

The winner will replace long-serving GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, who announced his retirement in January. The district has becoming increasingly moderate since electing Issa in 2000, and Hillary Clinton won there by 7 points in 2016.

In the most recent polls, candidate Mike Levin had largest lead of any Democrat running in the seven California districts currently represented by Republicans that voted for Clinton in the last election — despite President Trump tweeting his endorsement of Republican Diane Harkey in August.

Levin currently works as an environmental lawyer, while Harkey is the chair of the state Board of Equalization. She previously represented Dana point and Aliso Viejo in the state Assembly.

Levin has a sharp edge over Harkey in fundraising, with $5.5 million to her $1.5 million, according to the most recent reporting data.

Read more on the issue-by-issue differences between Harkey and Levin here.