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Race for Cunningham Seat Takes Shape

Two of the leading candidates to replace retiring Rep. Duke Cunningham recently visited Washington to build support for their campaigns.

Assemblyman Mark Wyland and Senator Bill Morrow spent a few days meeting with groups possibly interested in playing in the competitive GOP primary in safely Republican North County San Diego.  Both are experienced and well-liked conservative legislators.  Should Wyland decide to pass on the congressional seat, he could probably moonwalk (and he’s a very talented moonwalker) into Morrow’s senate seat with Morrow’s support.

Morrow, who ran in the GOP primary against Rep. Darrell Issa when Rep. Ron Packard retired in 2000, has regularly visited Washington in the time since that race and has built good relationships with PACs that supported him in 2000.  That will mean something.

However, Wyland is personally wealthy and the reality for the PAC community is that this seat will be safely Republican no matter who comes out of the primary.  That means many PACs will pass on this race so I don’t expect to see substantial Washington money being spent on any of the potential candidates.

Wyland has a staff advantage with Chief of Staff Duane Dichiara and District Director Chip Englander.  Both know grassroots and how to navigate primaries and have worked together for years.  But Morrow has recently hired a very talented staffer from one of the California congressional offices who shall be named later.

Other potential candidates are former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, former Rep. Brian Bilbray, former Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest, and businessman Alan Uke.