Republican candidates continued to emerge Thursday for the Orange County congressional seat held by Rep. Christopher Cox, nominated by President Bush to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission.
If the Senate confirms Cox (R-Newport Beach), a special election is likely later this year, perhaps consolidated with a possible statewide election in November, or early next year. The field is expected to draw several Republican candidates to the coastal district, where GOP voters outnumber Democrats 2 to 1.
Those in the race are state Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine and former Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer of Newport Beach.
Among others considering a bid were former Rep. James Rogan (R-Glendale), who led the House prosecution in President Clinton's impeachment trial in 2000, and North Tustin millionaire businessman Mark Chapin Johnson.
Rogan, who has moved to Yorba Linda in Orange County but not in Cox's district, could not be reached Thursday, while Johnson said a campaign was "highly unlikely, but I'm looking at it." There is no residency requirement to run for Congress.
Among Democrats, UC Irvine professor John Graham, who has challenged Cox three times, said he would be interested in running again.
Cox would replace SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson, who leaves June 30. Cox was elected in 1988 to represent the district, which stretches roughly from Newport Beach to San Clemente.
Ackerman was busy Thursday securing endorsements, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), who joined Cox in Congress in 1988, and Orange County Supervisor Bill Campbell.
If Cox is confirmed as expected, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would have 14 days to call a special primary election, which must be held between 56 and 63 days later. Voters would be allowed to choose among all candidates, regardless of party. If none received a majority, a general election would follow 56 days later with the top vote-getters from each party.
The last special election to fill a congressional vacancy was March 8, when Sacramento Democrat Doris Matsui was elected to replace her late husband, Rep. Robert Matsui.