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By Buck Shott
March 18, 2012 (San Diego) – California is shaping up as a potential battleground state in the Republican Primary. That’s right, the state known for its progressive politics and many Latino voters may be choosing a nominee for the party that’s been accused of waging a war on women and minorities.  

Gearing up for the June primary, local candidates are waging a battle of endorsements. Who’s backing who for Mayor, Congress, and key legislative races?

Plus a familiar East County politician has thrown his hat in the ring  for Congress. Jack Doyle, former Santee Mayor, has announced he will run as an independent candidate in the now ten-candidate field vying for the House seat currently held by Brian Bilbray.
Debate on tape:  Congressman Bilbray debated  two of his most prominent opponents, former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña and Port Commissioner Scott Peters, on KPBS this week.  You can view the video here:  http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/mar/14/kpbs-hosts-52nd-congressional-district-debate/  (Participants were chosen based on a nonpartisan poll taken before Doyle entered the race.)
Endorsement Highlights—and Lowlights: 
Republican Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, who is not seeking reelection,  made an across-the-aisle endorsement of Democrat Dave Roberts in the race to fill her seat.  “As a voter I want honesty in my elected officials.  I want talent and proven track records in my elected officials,” Slater-Price said.  If elected, Roberts would be the only Democrat on the all-Republican board. 
In the hotly contested Mayoral race, Carl DeMaio picked up the endorsement of the Repubilcan party over fellow GOP contenders Bonnie Dumanis and Nathan Fletcher. 
Dumanis, the current district attorney, has the endorsement of current Mayor Jerry Sanders as well as Sheriff Bill Gore, and a long list of law enforcement groups.  But the San Diego Police Officers Association gave their endorsement to Nathan Fletcher, who also has the approval of conservatives such as Assemblyman Joel Anderson and former mayor/ex-Governor Pete Wilson. 
Democrat Bob Filner, meanwhile, announced endorsement by national and local Latino leaders as well as prominent educators, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, the National Organization for Women’s local chapter, current and former officials including Denise Ducheny, Donna Frye, Marti Emerald, and Christine Kehoe.   
With Filner stepping down from Congress to run for Mayor, the race to replace him on Capitol hill is heating up.
Denise Moreno Ducheny released an endorsement letter from the California School Employees Association announcing the group’sr endorsement of her campaign--and chastised opponent Juan Vargas for listing an endorsement from CSEA on his website.  “This is just another example of how Juan Vargas will do and say anything to get elected, including fabricating an endorsement,” said former State Senator Ducheny, who provided a helpful screenshot as proof. (Vargas, currently a state Senator, has since removed the endorsement from his campaign website, which does list other labor union endorsements.)  A trio of Republicans who have filed to run in the heavily Democratic district (encompassing border areas from the ocean to Imperial County) have not yet set up websites.
Another hot contest is taking place in the 79th Assembly district. Among the frontrunners, Dr. Shirley Weber, picked up endorsement last week from the California chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Dr. Weber, a former San Diego school board member and sharecropper’s daughter, has also won endorsement from Congressman Bob Filner,  State Senator Christine Kehoe, and others.  Pat Washington, also a Democrat, lists numerous educators and activists as well as the chair of the state party’s African-American caucus.  Sid Voorakkara, a labor field coordinator and activist for women’s health issues,  is endorsed by Councilmembers Marti Emerald and David Alvarez, San Diego School Board trustees Shelia Jackson and Richard Barrera, and others.  Republican Mary England’s website does not list endorsements, however the Lemon Grove Councilwoman and La Mesa Chamber of Commerce president has been joined by prominent Republican officials at her events and can be expected to pick up support from the business community.
Presidential politics--California may be a battleground state:  As Republican voters across the country have thus far been unable to agree upon a party nominee, the prospect of a brokered convention continues to loom. Meanwhile the Washington Post reports that California, not exactly a bastion of conservatism (100% of statewide officers are Democrats), may wind up playing a key role in choosing a Republican nominee in our state’s June 5 primary.  http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/mar/14/kpbs-hosts-52nd-congressional-district-debate/
If campaigns in other states are any indication, expect the airways to be flooded with attack ads soon, powered by  campaigns for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.  An unknown factor in the 2012 campaign, however, will be the impact of unofficial “viral videos” posted by fans of candidates on YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites.  East County Libertarian leader Mike Benoit, for instance, has been making his own series of sardonic videos touting Ron Paul, such as this example:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=RDmzXkDIaVQ
The views in this column reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. 


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