Extra resources for students of State and Local Government 180, an upper-division GE class in the Government Department at Sacramento State University
Monday, December 5, 2011
San Bernardino Sun: Tough Assembly District campaign battle underway
Morrell and Dutton already battling it out
Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
San Bernardino Sun
Posted: 12/04/2011 06:03:30 AM PST
RANCHO CUCAMONGA - Election Day may be about 11 months away, but campaigning for the 40th Assembly District seat has quickly progressed.
Polling has been conducted, an endorsement has been made, fundraising has begun and the politicking has been ongoing.
But this isn't your typical political race.
Two well-known Republican lawmakers from Rancho Cucamonga - Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton and Assemblyman Mike Morrell - are running against each other.
"Civil wars are always the toughest," said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.
"Primaries can be difficult because very often the candidates don't have great issue differences and the race turns personal rather than philosophical."
Two polls were recently completed to determine who was preferable to voters - Dutton and Morrell each finished ahead in one of them.
A Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted in late September showed Dutton had a 16-point lead among voters who voted in three of the last four elections. Dutton said he had paid for the poll.
Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, who is chairman of the Elections Committee for Republicans in the Assembly, said his caucus ran a poll a month ago that showed Morrell ahead of Dutton.
The poll conducted by Wilson Allen Perkins Opinion Research gave Morrell a 13-point advantage over Dutton. Dutton said he planned to obtain a copy.
Hagman said Morrell has the endorsement of most Republicans in the caucus, including Assembly GOP Leader Connie Conway of Visalia.
"I think what it's going to come down to is voters have to make a decision," Morrell said. "Do they want his 14 years of political experience, including his time on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, or do the voters want my 35 years of business experience."
Dutton, who represented Morrell's current 63rd Assembly District from 2002 to 2004, said political experience does count.
"I think I'm the one with the experience and qualification to deal with the tough situations in the next couple of years," Dutton said. "I still have two more terms in the Assembly and that was going to be my intention to go back to the Assembly."
Dutton had about $273,540 in his campaign war chest and Morrell had about $46,680, according to the latest information from California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's website as of June 30.
Last week, Dutton said he had about $400,000 in campaign funds. Morrell said he had about $150,000.
Morrell, whose Rancho Cucamonga home was cut out of the new district by the California Citizens
Redistricting Commission, said he plans to move to a new home in the district prior to the primary. He is currently renting a Rancho Cucamonga home within district lines.
The new 40th District includes San Bernardino, Highland, Redlands and Loma Linda, up through the Cajon Pass and down into Rancho Cucamonga.
The commission earlier this year gave approval to new maps for congressional and legislative districts. The citizen-drawn maps aimed to end gerrymandering.
Also new this election season is the open primary, where the top two vote earners move on to the general election regardless of party affiliation.
Dutton said conditions could change by the primary and November's election, considering ongoing voter registration efforts.
"The only real poll is the one on Election Day," Dutton said.
Either Dutton or Morrell might not get past June's open primary. Democrats hold a slight edge among registered of voters in the district - 40 percent to 38 percent.