DEMOCRATIC CONTENDERS BATTLE FOR 52ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT SLOT

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By Miriam Raftery

May 2, 2012 (San Diego)—Lori Saldaña and Scott Peters, two Democrats vying for Republican Brian Bilbray’s seat in Congress, picked up some key endorsements this week.

“Today, we are proud to endorse Lori Saldaña for Congress,” Stephanie Taylor and Adam Green, founders of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee stated, calling Saldaña a “bold progressive fighter” who will “stand up for middle class families."

The PCCC also praised former Assemblywoman Saldaña for fighting to support university healthcare, public financing of campaigns, and coauthoring California’s landmark global warming legislation. The PCCC endorsement, publicized in national media, took a swipe at Peters, a former San Diego city councilman who the PCCC states “is responsible for destroying the pension fund of city workers. He also supports cutting Social Security and Medicare.”

In a KUSI TV interview, Peters remarked that “everyone has to give up something” and when asked specifically if he favored cuts to Social Security and Medicaid, responded, “Yeah, I favor a balanced approach.”

Peters later issued a press release stating he would "fight to protect Social Security and Medicare" and indicated the budget can't be balanced on the backs of seniors or the middle class, but did not specifically retract his remarks indicating he would support some cuts.

Rep. Bilbray has twice voted for measures that would “dismantle Medicare and turn it into a voucher program,” Saldaña stated, “a scheme that would effectively gut the program and leave seniors without enough money to cover their healthcare costs.”

Peters also picked up some key support this week. Chair of the Port Commission, Peters won the endorsement of Congressman and Mayoral candidate Bob Filner. Filner has targeted the Port as a centerpiece of his jobs plan for San Diego. “Our economy can be vastly improved by making San Diego a bigger maritime center,” Filner said. “It is the biggest single potential for the growth of middle class jobs here in San Diego.”

Peters announced a jobs plan with Filner centered around the Port. He has also called for more national investment in infrastructure, such as highway and bridges, making our power grid “smarter” through broadband and wireless, and investing in education and scientific research.

His endorsements also include State Senator Christine Kehoe and several former Democratic office holders.

Today, the Saldaña campaign announced endorsement by one of the nation’s most prominent progressive political leaders: former Presidential candidateHoward Dean, who will host a fundraiser for Saldaña later this month.

An educator and water quality expert with a strong environmental record, Saldaña was appointed by President Bill Clinton to co-chair an advisory council on improving water quality in 10 states.

Besides Peters and Saldaña, Bilbray also faces vocal competition on the right from Tea Party activist/radio show host John Stahl and others in the race.

The most important endorsements, of course, are those made by voters on their June ballots. A total of 10 candidates are running—and the top two vote-getters in the June primary will square off in November.

According to the Saldaña campaign, a poll conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin, Metz & Associates and commissioned by the campaign shows Saldaña with 18 percent of the vote and Peters with 10 percent in the June primary race, with incumbent Bilbray at 32 percent. (The balance was divided among the remaining seven candidates in single digits).

The poll also found that if voters were given positive information about her, her share rose to 29 percent, a statistical dead heat with Bilbray, who dropped to 30 and well above Peters at 7 percent.