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Decision '92 : SPECIAL VOTERS' GUIDE TO STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS : THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES : Incumbents Should Have It Easy

October 25, 1992

The combination of overwhelmingly Republican districts and relatively weak opponents could help to buffer two San Diego County congressmen from the chilly anti-incumbency winds blowing across the political landscape this fall.

Reps. Ron Packard (R-Carlsbad) and Randall (Duke) Cunningham (R-San Diego) are both prohibitive favorites for reelection, a situation owing more to their parties' daunting voter registration advantages--27 and 21 percentage points, respectively--than to their performance.

Of the two incumbents, Cunningham perhaps has greater reason to glance over his shoulder in the 51st District.

Having abandoned his current heavily Democratic district in southern San Diego for a safe GOP district in northern San Diego County created by redistricting, Cunningham faces a new constituency. Two other factors--being an incumbent in a year of anti-Washington fervor and running against Democrat Bea Herbert in the "Year of the Woman"--compound that difficulty.

Like Rep. Duncan Hunter in the 52nd District, Cunningham, a 50-year-old former Navy fighter pilot, also has drawn fire for encouraging President Bush to elevate Democratic opponent Bill Clinton's anti-Vietnam War protests and 1969 trip to Moscow into a major campaign issue.

"Wherever you look, Cunningham shows that he just doesn't get it," said Herbert, a 71-year-old accountant. "He keeps sending votes our way."

Cunningham, however, said that he fears no repercussions over his advice to Bush, and argues that he is also well positioned to weather this campaign year's other potential liabilities. The fact that he has served only a single two-year term, Cunningham says, could insulate him from voters' anti-incumbency mood, just as his work on behalf of numerous women candidates could prove to be a moderating force among female voters.

Three minor-party contenders--Green Party member Richard Roe, Libertarian Bill Holmes and Peace and Freedom nominee Miriam Clark--complete the five-candidate race.

"Obviously, we're at a real disadvantage," Holmes said. "But if Randy Cunningham keeps sticking his foot in his mouth, maybe we have a chance."

In the 48th District, which stretches from Oceanside into southern Orange County and Riverside County, Packard (R-Carlsbad) faces Democrat Michael Farber and two minor-party candidates in his bid for a sixth two-year term.

Despite having recently been named by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, as one of Congress' lowest-profile members, the 61-year-old Packard is widely regarded as secure because of his districts' nearly 2-to-1 GOP registration edge.

Libertarian Ted Lowe and Peace and Freedom Party member Donna White, who lists herself on the ballot as a "peon," also are competing in the 48th District contest.

CONGRESS / 48th District Michael Farber

Age: 31

Birthplace: Casablanca, Morocco

Occupation: Development consultant

Democrat Ron Packard

Age: 61

Birthplace: Meridian, Utah

Occupation: U.S. congressman

Republican Ted Lowe

Age: 51

Birthplace: Arkansas

Occupation: Salesman for auto body parts supplier

Libertarian Donna White

Age: 45

Birthplace: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Occupation: Telephone operator

Peace & Freedom

CONGRESS / 51st District Miriam Clark

Age: 63

Birthplace: Kansas

Occupation: Teacher

Peace & Freedom Randall (Duke) Cunningham

Age: 50

Birthplace: Los Angeles

Occupation: U.S. congressman

Republican Bea Herbert

Age: 71

Birthplace: Louisville, Ky.

Occupation: Accountant

Democrat Bill Holmes

Age: 44

Birthplace: Los Angeles

Occupation: Engineer

Libertarian Richard Roe

Age: 56

Birthplace: Detroit, Mich.

Occupation: Book publisher

Green

Times writer Barry M. Horstman wrote these summaries of the congressional races.

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