It will be a battle between two Democratic heavyweights in San Bernardino County during the 2012 election season after Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto) announced which district he will run in for re-election.
On Tuesday, Baca announced he would run for an eighth term in the newly drawn 35th Congressional District. His decision means he will avoid a showdown with 17-term Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) in the 31st Congressional District – Lewis has yet to announce if he will seek an eighteenth term and the 31st district is less Democratic-leaning.
“I have a proven track record and will continue to fight to create and keep new jobs here at home, lower the number of home foreclosures and protect Social Security and Medicare for all Americans moving forward,” Baca wrote in a statement.
Baca’s announcement, while avoiding what would be a highly watched race between him and Lewis, sets up a primary battle between him and state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod. Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) announced last week she also would run in the 35th District. Assemblywoman Norma Torres (D-Pomona) also said she was considering running for the district but has yet to make an official decision.
“I look forward to taking my brand of independent and common sense leadership to Washington D.C.,” Negrete McLeod said in a written statement after making her announcement last week that she would run in the 35th District. “Our next member of Congress needs to focus on job creation and ensure our limited resources are invested in programs that improve the lives of everyday Californians.”
Political insiders and the Washington elite might not have gotten the battle they were hoping for between two San Bernardino County heavyweights, but the fight between Baca and Negrete McLeod will certainly bring back memories from when McLeod battled and beat Baca’s son in 2006. Both have good fundraising ability and have the name recognition needed to win.
McLeod has represented nearly all of the 35th District during her 16-year political career. Her current district even includes the cities of Fontana, Rialto, Bloomington, Pomona and Montclair, which all are included, or at least portions of them are included, in the new district.
Baca on the other hand lives outside the new district, which includes Ontario, Chino, Pomona, Montclair, parts of Fontana and Rialto and unincorporated Bloomington; however, there is no rule that says Baca must live in the district he seeks to represent and it was not yet known if Baca would move his residence to inside the district. Still, he too, has represented all of the territory during his time as a state senator and more than 60 percent of his current district is in the new district.
“It has been my distinct honor to fight for the residents of the Inland Empire in Congress since first winning a special election in 1999,” he wrote in the statement.
Regardless of who wins the primary, the district will more than likely fall to a Democrat – Democrats outnumber Republicans 48.6 percent to 29 percent in the area the district would cover and President Barack Obama beat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in that area by a 64.2 percent to 32.2 percent margin.
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