Can CA Assemblyman Van Tran defeat Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez in 2010?

Carona and Van Tran

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Martin Wisckol of the OC Register broke a story today that CA Republican Assemblyman Van Tran plans to oppose Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez next year. At this time I have no knowledge if this is a trial balloon to get voter reaction or if any focus group meetings have occured to see what this task will entail. That assessment includes campaign financing, national as well as local support, and endorsements. Major consideration must be given to some unknown issues such as how much support president Obama will provide to Congresswoman Sanchez as there are hundreds of seats up every two years where some may be very close, etc.

Assemblyman Van Tran was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2004. He represents the 68th Assembly District in Orange County, including the cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Newport Beach, Stanton, and Westminster.Van serves as the vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Utilities and Commerce and Governmental Organization Committees. Additionally, he is a member of the Select Committee on Critical Issues and Asian Pacific Islander Joint Caucus. Van is the highest ranking Vietnamese-American elected official in the nation. He currently serves as an Assistant Republican Leader in the Assembly.”

Following is the May 6th Register report with the link at the end of this post.

Setting the stage for what is expected to be one of the nation’s hottest Congressional races of 2010, Assemblyman Van Tran announced today that he will challenge seven-term Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

Tran had been recruited heavily by Washington GOP leaders, who consider central Orange County’s 47th Congressional District one of their best chances for gaining a seat next year.

“Both sides will be pouring resources into this,” Tran said in anticipation of a heavily funded drive.

Democrats have a 12.4 percentage point advantage in the central county district and Sanchez is popular there, winning by 44 percentage points in 2008, 25 percentage points in 2006, and 21 percentage points in 2004. And Barack Obama carried the district last year, but Arnold Schwarzenegger won there in 2006 and George W. Bush won there in 2004.

Sanchez indicated she was ready to take on Tran.

“I’ve always welcomed a spirited debate about the issues confronting our communities,” Sanchez said in an email responding to Tran’s announcement today. “I have always been an independent voice for the people of Orange County. I have consistently fought hard to make our communities safer, improve our schools, protect our seniors, create jobs, and lower the tax burden on the middle class.”

Sanchez isn’t the only one trying to sound a non-partisan note.

“Tran transcends Republican politics, and he will be able to reach out to independents and moderate Democrats,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, head of recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee, in an interview with “This is one of the top people I’ve gone after since the very beginning.”

Sen. John McCain, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor also encouraged Tran to run.

The area has twice as many Latinos as Vietnamese Americans, but Vietnamese Americans turn out to vote in greater numbers – so much so that the two top vote getters in the county supervisor race there have been Vietnamese Americans in the two most recent elections.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – Democrats’ counterpart to the NRCC and a likely source of major campaign funds – noted that Sanchez has been particularly attentive to that concerns of the Vietnamese community.

“From Day One, Congresswoman Sanchez has worked hard to be an independent voice for her constituents in Orange County, even co-founding the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam,” said Andrew Stone of the DCCC. “Assemblymember Tran’s been office shopping for quite some time now. But given Congresswoman Sanchez’s strong record of serving her constituents, it’s clear she’ll be back next Congress.”

Tran has long been a groundbreaker in Vietnamese American politics, and has openly dreamed of serving in Congress since he was an aide to Sanchez’s predecessor, Republican Bob Dornan. He was a Garden Grove councilman and then became first Vietnamese American elected to the state legislature, where he is now termed out.

While McCarthy spoke of Tran as rising above partisan politics, several of the candidate’s key positions have a distinctly GOP ring – including his opposition to the bank bailouts.

“It’s a blank check the government has written on the backs of taxpayers,” he said. He similarly opposes the current approach to rescuing GM and Chrysler.

“The level of government intervention is unprecedented to the point where the administration can force executives to resign,” he said. “That is not the role of government.”

He also took a shot at Sanchez.

“The district needs a real representative and not a rubber stamp for (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “I know the area, I know the people and I believe I will do a better job representing the district.”

Juice readers. If Van Tran follows through with this Congressional challenge what are his chances to win both the primary and then General elections?

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