Source: North County Blade-Citizen, Sunday 11 October 1992, pp. B-1. [Merged in 1995 to form the North County Times.]. Copyright © 1992 Howard Publications.
By Tom Bradley Jr.
Residents of the 51st Congressional District may be surprised to know that an incumbent they never voted for is solicited their approval for a second term in Washington.
But then, this campaign has produced other strange occurrences in the new district, formed as part of a plan to redraw congressional district boundaries in San Diego County.
For starters, the race promised to be a battle between Republican lawmakers Bill Lowery and Randy “Duke” Cunningham, as both representatives announced their candidacies last winter.
Lowery previously represented Del Mar, Solana Beach and Carmel Valley in the former 41st District for 12 years, while Cunningham had been elected in 1990 by voters in the former 44th District, including Chula Vista, National City and parts of San Diego.
The 51st District includes Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, a small portion of Oceanside and San Marcos
Lowery soon accused Cunningham, a former Navy fighter pilot, of being a “carpetbagger,” while Cunningham defended his move by pointing to his home in Del Mar Heights.
But the promise of a knockdown drag-out GOP fight died in April, as Lowery withdrew from the race after revealing that he had bounced 300 checks in the infamous Capitol Hill check-kiting scandal
Cunningham, who emerged unscathed with only one hot check, took 52 percent of the vote in the June primary to defeat Bill Davis, Michael Perdue and Adelito Gale. Lowery still garnered 16 percent of the vote to place second.
On the Democratic side, five candidates with no clear-cut favorite — Steve Thorne, Jeff Schwartz, Steve Posner, Brian Dunlea and Bea Herbert — waged a quiet campaign in a new district with a 54 percent Republican registration.
But dark horse Herbert pulled an upset by winning 34 percent of the vote — far ahead of Thorne with 23 percent and Schwartz with 21 percent — to seal the nomination.
Herbert’s win came in the wake of a series of victories by women candidates, but political experts have given her little chance of surprising Cunningham on Nov. 3.
Adding to her underdog status is a huge campaign financing advantage enjoyed by Cunningham; his war chest exceeds $650,000, compared to the $9,000 in contributions for Herbert.
Still, Herbert hopes to capitalize on votes from pro-choice Republican women, Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton’s lead in the polls and anti-incumbent sentiment against Cunningham.
The race also has drawn three “minor party” candidates. Peace and Freedom Party hopeful Miriman Clark, Libertarian Bill Holmes and Green Party nominee Dick Roe.
Of these three, Roe has been the most vocal in criticizing Cunningham and his conservative stands on issues.