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Rumors have swirled for months that Lewis could retire, paving the way for Dreier to move and run in Lewis’ place because his own district was drawn to be more friendly to Democrats. But conventional wisdom among California political insiders has hardened against the idea, given the district’s solid Republican makeup.
The district “favors homegrown candidates,” particularly those with very conservative stances on hot button issues such as immigration, a GOP aide familiar with the area said. Dreier does not fit the profile.
Lewis is leaning toward a run in the slightly Democratic San Bernardino Valley district because his house and most of his friends are there, sources said.
Miller, meanwhile, has his hands full in the race against Royce. Royce has a huge $3 million war chest and a leg up on claiming the mantle of being more conservative.
Besides his anemic fundraising, California political blogs have criticized Miller for being missing in action at events in the district. His absence was due to extenuating circumstances: He’s been busy rescuing his kidnapped grandchildren from Mexico, where their mother, who has since been arrested by Mexican authorities, was hiding them from their father, Miller’s son. But that hasn’t stopped bloggers from going after him.
“While Royce has been his usual Energizer-Bunny self, racking up endorsements and holding high profile events, Miller’s side of things has been dead silent, causing many to question whether Miller is actually going to run at all,” Jon Fleischman wrote on Oct. 13 on the influential FlashReport blog.
Miller told Roll Call the kidnapping saga is one reason his fundraising lagged.
“You realize I just got my three grandkids back that were abducted for almost four years, and they’re living with me?” Miller said. “It’s a job taking care of three young guys. ... That’s a lot of work.”
Miller does have more than $1 million in cash on hand. And he is the 17th richest Member of Congress, with a net worth of at least $17.4 million. Miller wouldn’t say how much of his own money he’d put into his campaign coffers, but he told Roll Call, “Money’s not gonna be a problem in this race.”
“There’ll be [a] more than adequate amount of money to run my campaign, so I’m not concerned about that,” Miller said.
He suggested his path to victory is through Democrats, citing the state’s new “jungle primary” rules in which the top two vote-getters from any party advance to a runoff general election.
Miller noted that the new territory includes more of his current district than of Royce’s district and predicted that he and Royce would split the GOP vote and both advance to the general. But Miller said he believes independents and Democrats would give him an advantage in the general election runoff.
“It’s a different campaign in California then you’ve ever had before,” Miller said.
Royce declined an interview request through a spokeswoman. Royce consultant Dave Gilliard said the California Republican “has proven he can attract crossover votes from independents and Democrats” because he used to represent Democratic-majority districts during his days in the state Senate.