- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

Immigration and border enforcement issues are dominating the special election to replace former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham in San Diego.

Candidates are being forced to confront problems caused by illegal aliens because politicians have long ignored the issue, said Ron Prince, chairman of Save Our State and co-author of California’s Proposition 187 initiative, which voters passed in 1994 to cut services for illegal aliens.

“Too many politicians try to pretend it is not a problem or that it will take care of itself or that it will just go away,” he said. “It’s a major issue and people want to know what are the candidates going to do about it.”

Eighteen candidates are on the April 11 ballot to succeed Cunningham, California Republican, who was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery. The 50th congressional district, just miles from the Mexican border, has been without a representative since Cunningham resigned in December.

Mr. Prince has endorsed Republican Howard Kaloogian, a former state assembly member and a lawyer. Mr. Kaloogian also was endorsed by Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, who is a leading force on immigration issues.

“It only took 19 terrorists to bring the country to a halt on 9/11,” Mr. Kaloogian said. “Most everyone believes that illegal aliens come here well-intentioned, but that does not excuse or pardon their illegal act of coming into the country without permission.”

Democratic candidate Chris Young, of Mexican descent, said immigration is the top issue in the district. “We have a huge immigration problem here and the government is completely failing in protecting us on the borders,” she said.

Francine Busby, a local school board member, is the Democratic front-runner in the race. She pledges on her Web site to implement a comprehensive immigration policy that toughens penalties for companies that hire illegals and would create a “smart fence” that uses technology for border enforcement.

California Border Watch has endorsed Republican Bill Morrow, a state senator who the group says “gets it.” The San Diego Police Officers Association has endorsed Republican Brian P. Bilbray, an immigration reform consultant, for his support of improved border security.

Republican candidate Bill Boyer, a businessman, said building a wall on some parts of the border might help the situation.

Vying for the seat are 14 Republicans, two Democrats, a libertarian and an independent.

In the unlikely case one of the candidates receives more than 50 percent of the vote, that person immediately would become a member of Congress for the seven months remaining of Cunningham’s term, and would be up for re-election in November.

The more likely scenario is that no candidate will receive a majority of the vote. The top vote-getter from each party would face off in a June 6 runoff election, the same date as the general election primary.

Party registration in the district leans strongly Republican.

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