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Multiple Choice In California

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By Chris Cillizza
Thursday, October 6, 2005

California voters went to the polls Tuesday to choose a replacement for former congressman Christopher Cox (R) -- but all they got was another election.

Republican state Sen. John Campbell led the crowded field of 17 candidates in the special open primary in the Orange County area 48th District but did not capture the 50 percent of the vote needed to win the seat outright.

Campbell took 46 percent of the overall vote, approximately 30 points better than the second-place finisher -- former state assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer (also a Republican). The biggest surprise of the day was the strong showing of American Independent candidate Jim Gilchrist, founder of the anti-immigration group known as the Minuteman Project. Gilchrist took 14 percent of the vote, not far behind Brewer's 17 percent.

Under California law, because no candidate received half of the vote or more, the top vote-getters from each party advance to a Dec. 6 special general election.

That means Campbell and Gilchrist as well as Democrat Steve Young, who won 9 percent of the vote, will all face off. Candidates from the Libertarian and Green parties will also be on the ballot.

Campbell enters that race as a strong favorite, given that President Bush easily carried the district in 2004. Cox vacated the seat to become head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dean Turns Up the Volume

When Howard Dean became chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he kept a low profile for a season to reassure some politicians and Washington operatives worried about his famous shoot-from-the-lip style. But that season is definitely over.

On MSNBC's "Hardball" yesterday, Dean sounded like the presidential candidate of yore, as he lashed an alleged "culture of corruption" in the Republican Party, said GOP leaders are putting money "in their own pockets," and added that "I don't think it's very credible" that Vice President Cheney was not aware of the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. During his broadside, he bemoaned how Bush's "MO" is to "discredit your opponents and attack them personally."

In one eyebrow-raising moment, Dean invoked a crude phrase usually reserved for the locker room when urging Bush to make public Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers's White House records. "I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called," he said.

Cillizza is a staff writer at washingtonpost.com. The Fix, his politics blog, debuted this week at http://www.washingtonpost.com/thefix.


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