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Incumbent congressman would rather not campaign

Pomerado News (2010-08-25) Editor

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Incumbent congressman would rather not campaign

It’s tough running for Congress in inland North County when there’s a “D” attached to your name.

Just ask Ray Lutz, an El Cajon resident who is the Democratic Party’s nominee in the sprawling 52nd District.

Earlier this month an overly optimistic Lutz “challenged,” first-term Congressman Duncan D. Hunter to a series of eight debates during the congressional recess, including one on Aug. 19 in Poway. Other suggested locations included La Mesa, Borrego Springs, Alpine, Ramona, Lakeside, Tierrasanta and El Cajon. The debates were to include Lutz, Hunter and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Benoit.

Hunter nixed the idea, saying his recess calendar was full. He offered just one date, Oct. 15 at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon. For the record, Oct. 15 is less than three weeks away from Election Day on Nov. 2 and, just as important, two weeks past the date where absentee ballots will have be mailed to voters. Half of all votes cast in San Diego County come from absentee voters.

When an incumbent politician cannot be bothered to participate in a re-election campaign, he or she is said to be “campaigning from the Rose Garden.” The incumbent is portrayed by staffers as being someone too busy with the important job at hand to take time out to participate in the political process.

Not that Hunter has much to worry about. The Republican Party enjoys a 43-to-31 percent edge in voter registrations, with another 23 percent declining to state a party preference. (Hunter’s congressional neighbor, Rep. Brian Bilbray, enjoys a similar advantage in a district that includes most of Rancho Bernardo.) Plus, Hunter has the benefit of strong name recognition. The guess here is that many voters will be thinking that they’re voting for Hunter’s father, Duncan L. Hunter, who retired last year after 28 years in Congress.

So Lutz faces a double-whammy of running in a district where his party is badly outnumbered and against an incumbent with a high, albeit erroneous, name recognition factor.

To press his debate point, Lutz on Aug. 12 launched a hunger strike, which was quickly joined by Benoit. The strike ended Monday and achieved its purpose of gaining media attention. As to whether it will be enough to have the Hunter campaign agree to more debates — don’t count on it. The chances of that happening are between slim and slim.

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Title Incumbent congressman would rather not campaign
Publisher Pomerado News
Author Editor
Pub Date 2010-08-25
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Note Features Ray Lutz and Duncan Hunter
Keywords CA 50 Congressional District
Media Type Linked Article
Media Group Op Ed
Curator Rating Plain
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Topic revision: r3 - 25 Feb 2013, RaymondLutz
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