State by state


CALIFORNIA

Business owner Ken King yesterday entered the GOP primary in California’s 50th District to vie for the seat recently vacated by Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.).

King, the owner of San Diego Pools, joins former Rep. Brian Bilbray, state Sen. Bill Morrow, former state Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian and businessman Alan Uke in the Republican contest.

Bilbray has a reputation for being a centrist, but King has indicated he will try for that middle-of-the-road vote.

In a statement released yesterday, King attacked fellow Republicans for meddling, as he portrayed it, in the case of Florida woman Terri Schiavo. “They were wrong,” King said. “I believe in the freedom of the individual, and the government should stay out of our homes and out of our bedrooms.”
— Peter Savodnik


SOUTH CAROLINA
While Democrats are seeking to nationalize next year’s midterm elections — running against President Bush and his handling of the Iraq war — Republicans are running on at least one issue that appears to resonate with voters from San Diego to Bismark, N.D., to the rusting mill towns of South Carolina: illegal immigration.

In South Carolina’s 5th District, where Republicans are targeting Democratic longtime Rep. John Spratt, state GOP Chairman Katon Dawson attacked the congressman for opposing a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act that, supporters say, would strengthen border security.

The bill passed overwhelmingly, with most Republicans and Democrats backing it.

“In South Carolina, John Spratt portrays himself as a conservative, but when it comes time to vote on important issues facing our country, he votes with the liberals,” Dawson said.

Republican real-estate developer Ralph Norman, who has the backing of Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, as well as of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and other South Carolina GOP leaders, is running against Spratt.

Spratt’s chief of staff, Ellen Buchanan, criticized the bill for not addressing the problem of illegal aliens already in the United States. Also, she said the bill puts “an unfair burden on employers who try to do right.” Buchanan cited tobacco, peach and soybean farmers as well as business owners in his district who had asked the congressman to oppose the bill.
— Peter Savodnik


WASHINGTON
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who is likely to face a stiff challenge in his nominally Republican district in the Seattle suburbs, yesterday touted the Deficit Reduction Act for cutting spending — but not in his district.

“I came to Congress to help reduce spending,” said Reichert, who rose to local prominence for being the sheriff who helped solve a string of serial killings.

“The original version of this bill achieved these reductions from some of the wrong places — Medicaid programs that affect Children’s Hospital; a child support enforcement program used to track down deadbeat parents and hold them accountable; and revenue generated from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I urged the House leadership to present us a bill that did not contain these items but instead focused on other parts of our government that could be trimmed. They listened.”

Like Reps. Joe Schwarz (Mich.), Rob Simmons (Conn.), Christopher Shays (Conn.), Heather Wilson (N.M.) and other Republicans in tough races, Reichert has sought to placate his GOP base while reaching out to independents and Democrats.
— Peter Savodnik