Story updated 6:20 p.m. to include additional quotes from Michael Crimmins.
Republican Michael Crimmins, who will face State Senator Juan Vargas in November elections for California's 51st Congressional District, said he will move to Imperial Beach if he is elected.
"I've always lived next to the water," he said.
Crimmins used to live in Coronado and currently lives in Point Loma. IB is the only beach town in the 51st.
He enjoys going to and other local restaurants and spent a lot of time in IB in the 1970s.
"They don't put on pretenses like Coronado or some of these other places," Crimmins said when comparing IB to other beach towns.
The former Marine pilot who beat out a veteran legislator for a spot on the general election ballot in the South Bay congressional district said Thursday he was not surprised at his .
Pundits had figured the November runoff would come down to Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego and ex-Democratic legislator Denise Moreno Ducheny in the 51st District, a stronghold for their party.
But Michael Crimmins, a 64-year-old Republican, collected 21 percent of the vote on Tuesday, seven points better than Moreno Ducheny.
Vargas won with 48 percent in the district that covers part of southern San Diego County and all of Imperial County, while four other candidates split the remaining 17 percent.
The victory puts him in his third straight general election for Congress, having lost to Susan Davis, D-San Diego, in 2008 and 2010. He gained 27 percent the first time and 34 percent in the rematch.
Crimmins told City News Service that his sense from "being on the street'' and a tip-off about private polling data gave him confidence before the primary election.
He said he hopes his message will resonate with voters, many of them Latinos whom he has taught or worked with for years as a teacher at various San Diego schools.
"Down along the border, it's all about immigration,'' Crimmins said.
He wants to strengthen the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico so that we know who is coming into this country but also make it easier for Mexicans to cross by issuing them secure identification cards.
"Post-9/11, we have to know who is coming across that border,'' Crimmins said.
He also supports making improvements to Friendship Park, a spot along the west end of the border fence where separated families visit with each other. Lights and bathrooms would make the park much easier for people to use, he said.
"That resonates with (the families) and is no skin off our teeth," he said, adding that he would like to see a similar park built in Calexico.
The Tijuana estuary needs to be cleaned up too, he said.
"That whole estuary down there, it's a pigsty. I've been down there quite a bit the whole thing needs to be environmentally cleaned up in regards to the tires, trash, mattress boxes, just the whole cornucopia of our lives that needs to be cleaned up down there," he said.
He said many of the Spanish-speaking residents of the district are Democrats but have Republican values on issues like gay marriage and abortion.
"They're told they're Democrats by their teachers and their parents -- we're Democrats, so you're Democrats,'' Crimmins said.
However Vargas, who lost a primary run in the district to Filner in 2006, may be a formidable opponent in a district with .
Vargas has been a San Diego city councilman and was an assemblyman before moving to the state Senate.
Crimmins, a native New Yorker, said he is divorced and has an adult daughter who is a flight attendant. He said he spent a lot of time in Imperial County during his 21-year career in the Marine Corps, flying to an air base in El Centro and instructing Navy SEALS in the mountains.
The district has been represented by Bob Filner for two decades, but the liberal Democrat is leaving office to run for San Diego mayor. Filner placed a close second in that race on Tuesday to Councilman Carl DeMaio.
City News Service contributed to this report.