Rep. John Campbell's retirement from his California seat will spark a crowded GOP primary, perhaps creating a ripple effect in nearby House districts, according to local Republican sources.
There are already a handful of potential GOP candidates for the 45th District — including GOP Rep. Gary G. Miller — who may consider leaving the 31st District to run there instead.
The 45th District is a safer seat for Republicans, including Miller. Mitt Romney carried that district, located in wealthy and conservative Orange County, with 55 percent. President Barack Obama carried Miller’s current district with 57 percent.
“Congressman Gary Miller, who has represented a portion of Orange County, is a person of means [and] has some supporters back in Washington, D.C., so this is certainly on his radar,” one local GOP operative said. “I’m sure he’s considered the idea of living in Newport Beach.”
Miller was vague about his 2014 plans in response to a CQ Roll Call question about whether he would consider the 45th District.
“I thank John for his service to the House and his constituents — many of whom I have previously represented — and wish him and his family all the best,” Miller said in a statement. “In the days and months ahead, I will continue to work to improve the quality of life for my constituents, the Southern California region and the nation.”
If Miller runs in the 45th District, it would not be the first time he swapped districts. Last cycle, Miller moved from the 42nd District to the 31st District after a commission redrew the state's congressional boundaries. There was no overlapping territory between the two districts.
A Miller move would come as welcome news for Democrats, who have already indicated the 31st District is a top target in 2014. Last cycle, Democrats bungled the state's new top-two jungle primary by splintering the party's primary vote among four Democratic candidates. Miller and another Republican went to the general election, and Republicans won the seat.
This cycle, a similar situation is unfolding in the 31st District, with four Democrats in the race.
Aside from Miller, GOP operatives said Republican state Sen. Mimi Walters is also a front-runner to replace Campbell.
Other potential GOP candidates mentioned include:
- State Rep. Don Wagner
- Orange County Supervisor Patricia Bates
- Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer
- Laguna Hills Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Blount
- Former state Sen. Dick Ackerman, who also served in the California State Assembly
- Irvine Mayor Steven Choi