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How Manafort, Cohen Could Affect San Diego Midterm Races


San Diego had a tumultuous political week with Rep. Duncan Hunter’s indictment Tuesday, but nationally the Trump administration had an even tougher day.

The president’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight out of 18 changes, including five counts of tax fraud, one count of failure to file a foreign bank account and two counts of bank fraud.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer also pleaded guilty to eight felony counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations – and he implicated the president.

The question is whether the Cohen/Manafort fallout will affect any midterm races this November.

Just two days before, the president had endorsed Republican Diane Harkey, who is running in the 49th district.

“An endorsement from Donald Trump is always both a blessing and a curse,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego. “For Diane Harkey, the great thing about this is it sends a clear message to Donald Trump’s base who may be even more galvanized by these accusations.”

Kousser said the president has succeeded in creating two parallel universes, one for his supporters and one for his opponents. “The more you see a chorus of attacks on him, the more his [supporters] get mobilized, so that support will go to Diane Harkey.

The main question is how undecided voters in the 49th district will react.

He said Trump’s failure to capture moderate voters is the reason the House is at risk for the GOP.

“And so the question is not ‘is he going to lose more support,’ but ‘can he and his allies do anything to regain the middle between now and 2018 [midterms] between now and 2020.’”

He said he assumes Democratic money will flow into both the 49th and 50th district races in an attempt to flip the seats, including Hunter’s Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar.  

“In the 50th, Ammar Campa-Najjar had already raised a million dollars – even when he was without an indictment of Duncan Hunter and pretty much a hopeless candidate,” Kousser said. “So now I expect to see more money flooding in, maybe some national money. The 49th, North County San Diego, Darrell Issa’s district, that’s going to have a flood. We are not going to be able to watch TV news without seeing ad after ad after ad this November.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
Source: NBC San Diego

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