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Democrats In 52nd Congressional Race Get No Party Endorsement Yet

Aired 2/13/12 on KPBS News.

The 52nd Congressional District race threatens the Republican majority in San Diego’s congressional delegation. But the Democratic candidates running against Republican Brian Bilbray won’t have their party’s endorsement until after voters make their choice in June.

The 52nd Congressional District.
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Above: The 52nd Congressional District.

The 52nd Congressional District race threatens the Republican majority in San Diego’s congressional delegation. Currently, San Diego has three Republican and two Democratic congressional representatives. Redistricting redrew the boundaries of all the congressional districts. The 52nd is now more evenly divided between Democratic, Republican and Independent voters, making the outcome of this year's election unpredictable.

To win the state Democratic Party's endorsement, candidates need 60 percent of the votes from delegates in their district.

Larry Remer, campaign consultant for former state Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, said she missed that by one point.

“You know, 59 percent in the caucus is a tremendous showing of support in the district,” he said.

Maryanne Pintar is spokeswoman for candidate Scott Peters, who is chair of the Port District and former San Diego City Council president. She said the lack of endorsement leaves it to voters to decide the strongest Democratic candidate in June.

"Our strategy was to convince enough delegates that no endorsements was in the best interest of defeating Brian Bilbray, " she said, "and in fact we achieved that."

Saldaña got twice as many votes from delegates as Peters. Pintar said Saldaña’s former state office may explain that fact.

“While the state delegates are a very specific group of people,” she said, “our base of support across the region and in the district is far broader.“

Peters has raised more money than Saldaña. Pintar said he has about five times more cash on hand to campaign.

But Larry Remer dismisses this advantage.

“If money was what politics was all about, Meg Whitman would be governor, Peter Q Davis would’ve been the mayor of San Diego,” he said.

The state party endorsement wouldn’t have meant much financial support anyway, but it would have meant Saldaña could have used the party’s bulk mailing rates, volunteers and phone banks.

Meanwhile, Bilbray is already getting support from the National Republican Congressional Committee to hold on to the newly “redistricted” seat.

Two other candidates, John Stahl and Wayne Iverson are also running for the seat. Stahl has loaned his campaign $300,000.

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