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Race, class, gender and ideology all define O.C. Senate fight

Two Democrats and two Republicans, all of whom have served in the Assembly,
will face off in two potentially nasty primary battles, fueled by running
personal feuds, interest-group politics and legislative leadership
implications.

Or will they?

Supervisor Lou Correa has announced he will run for the seat against
Assemblyman Tom Umberg. Insiders say Correa has jumped into the race at the
urging of Senate leadership out of concern that Umberg is unelectable. But
Correa has yet to form a Senate campaign committee, and has not yet hired a
political consultant – signs that Umberg’s campaign say show Correa is not
yet committed to the race. Meanwhile, Correa’s boosters have been whispering
that Umberg may drop out of the race.

And while Republican Lynn Daucher holds a large fundraising advantage over
her prospective primary opponent, Van Tran, her political consultant Jim
Nygren says “I’m sure there will be lots of discussions among all the
candidates,” as the March 10 filing deadline approaches.

Whether or not there is a primary fight, a massive voter registration drive
led by the Orange County Republican Party, and bankrolled by the New
Majority, has netted 20,000 new Republican voters in this
Democrat-controlled district, and set the stage for the state’s only
competitive Senate race this fall. The district has been trending Republican
in its voting as well. President Bush lost the district by 10 points to Al
Gore in 2000, but in 2004, he defeated John Kerry by five points. (That same
year, Barbara Boxer beat Bill Jones 56-37 in the district.)

All this uncertainty and intrigue is par for the course in the 34th Senate
District, the Orange County seat being vacated by Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa
Ana, which includes most of Santa Ana, Anaheim, Garden Grove and parts of
Fullerton and Westminster. Dunn won the seat in 1998, helping break a
Republican lock on Orange County legislative seats. That same year, Correa
defeated Republican Assemblyman Jim Morrissey.

Now, Correa has jumped into the race for the Senate seat, after
encouragement from moderate Democrats and business groups who bristle at
Umberg’s strong support from trial lawyers. There’s more Democratic
intrigue. Umberg has been endorsed by Speaker Fabian Nu


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