SAN DIEGO – Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, will become the first new member of San Diego’s congressional delegation in four years after defeating Republican Michael Crimmins in the 51st Congressional District race.
Vargas, who will fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, had just over two-thirds of the vote, with 55 percent of the precincts counted in the district that includes part of southern San Diego County and Imperial County. Filner vacated his seat after two decades to run for mayor of San Diego.
Vargas will be the first new face among San Diego’s five congressmen since Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-El Cajon, assumed his father’s seat in 2008.
He said he was excited about going to Washington, D.C.
”Obviously, there’s a lot to do,” said Vargas. ”It’s a divided government. I hope we can work together.”
He said the anger between representatives of the political parties has to stop, and he’s ready to work across the aisle.
Meanwhile, Democratic Port Commissioner Scott Peters appeared to have unseated Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, in the 52nd District, but with less than 700 votes separating the two, it was unclear if remaining provisional ballots might ultimately change the outcome.
Democrats believed they had a strong chance to unseat Bilbray, after redistricting moved his district into unfamiliar inland territory.
Peters attempted to paint Bilbray as a tool of far-right elements of the Republican Party who wants to privatize Social Security, make Draconian cuts to education and scientific research and reduce the social safety net for the elderly, ill and disabled.
Bilbray has denied Peters’ claims on entitlements and contends Peters is largely to blame for the city of San Diego’s one-time fiscal mess, which occurred while he was a councilman, and has taken to calling his opponent the ”Bernie Madoff of San Diego.”
The reference to the financier who committed the largest financial fraud scheme in U.S. history relates to the underfunding of the city of San Diego’s employee pension system, which sent municipal finances into a tailspin.
Three other incumbents — Hunter, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego — were all re-elected.