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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS

Rohrabacher Takes Big Lead Over Dornan

For a Sacramento-area congressional seat, Rico Oller leads former state Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren.

March 03, 2004|Dan Weikel | Times Staff Writer

In a clash of prominent conservatives, veteran Rep. Dana Rohrabacher held a commanding lead over former Rep. Robert K. Dornan on Tuesday night in early primary returns for Rohrabacher's congressional seat in coastal Orange County.

The entrenched Huntington Beach Republican was ahead by an 8-1 margin in the contest against Dornan, an outspoken, often bombastic politician whose ardent support of military spending and the aerospace industry earned him the nickname "B-1 Bob."

"The voters have told him exactly where to go; not Washington, but back home, where he can crawl under a rock," Rohrabacher said. "It seems that the voters have cast their votes for a positive conservative approach, rather than a bellicose, negative approach."

Dornan's attempted return to political life faced an uphill battle in the 46th Congressional District because of Rohrabacher's solid conservative credentials.

Rohrabacher is now in his eighth term.

Dornan could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. But his son Mark said: "We won't be climbing under any rocks. We will be getting on a mountaintop and telling voters the truth."

The Democratic contest in the district featured Jim Brandt, an educator and software engineer; Tan D. Nguyen, a financial advisor; and Paul C. Wilkins, a businessman. Brandt was ahead Tuesday night with almost 50% of the vote in early returns.

The Dornan-Rohrabacher race was one of 53 congressional primaries decided across the state Tuesday. Although many of the elections went uncontested, several were marked by heavy competition.

In Northern California's 3rd Congressional District, an intraparty feud developed between three high-profile Republicans over the seat held by Rep. Doug Ose (R-Sacramento).

The race featured a comeback attempt by former state Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren, who was defeated by Gray Davis for governor in 1998. Lungren faced state Sen. Rico Oller (R-San Andreas) and newcomer Mary Ose, the incumbent's older sister.

With about three-quarters of the precincts reporting, Oller was leading with almost 40% of the vote. Lungren trailed with almost 35%, while Ose fell farther behind with about 25%.

In the Central Valley, former state Sen. Jim Costa appeared headed to victory over Lisa Quigley, the former chief of staff of Rep. Calvin Dooley (D-Hanford), in the Democratic primary for the 20th Congressional District seat. Dooley is retiring.

Two Republicans also ran in the district primary. Early returns showed that state Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) was leading 4 to 1 over businessman Gino L. Martorana.

Times staff writers William Wan and Jean-Paul Renaud contributed to this report.

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