Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

GOP eating its own in Inland Empire Congressional battle (UPDATE)

Republican Congressional candidate Bob Dutton has felt the sting of the state GOP endorsing his same-party opponent, incumbent Gary Miler.
Republican Congressional candidate Bob Dutton has felt the sting of the state GOP endorsing his same-party opponent, incumbent Gary Miler.
Steven Cuevas / KPCC

California's so-called "jungle" primary created several interesting pairings for the November ballot. Democrats are facing off against Democrats in half-a-dozen Congressional races. On the GOP side, it's Republican vs. Republican in two House races. 

Some of these contests are under the radar, but a few have erupted into nasty fights, splitting the parties themselves.

Republicans, who pride themselves on avoiding intra-party explosions, have waded into a big one in the Inland Empire.

The party endorsed incumbent Congressman Gary Miller over his challenger, State Senator Bob Dutton. And adding salt to the wound, it used some of the money raised by Dutton to run ads slamming him.

Dutton has been a party loyalist. He served on the GOP's board of directors and raised more than $100,000 for party causes and candidates. Oh, and he was the top Republican in the State Senate the past two years as well.

A state GOP spokesman says the endorsement of Miller requires the party to work on his behalf.

Dutton finds it galling that some of the cash he raised for the state party is being used against him. Dutton's campaign says: "For what Bob has done for this party over the last 12 years, holding the caucus together during a very difficult period, and raising the money — for them to put their name on a hit piece is disgusting.”

UPDATE OCT. 28: California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Becarro issued a statement that says, in part: "The decision to send those mailers was made by a small committee of the Party.  It was not made by the Board nor was it made by me.  I don't believe the content of those mailers reflects the view of the Party as a whole and certainly it does not reflect my views."

The mailer shows a photo of Dutton taken during a marathon all-night budget session, with the caption: “Bob Dutton needs to wake up. We can’t afford to send this big spender to Washington."

Miller has raised more than three times as much in campaign contributions as Dutton, helped in large part by a real estate political action committee that has provided about $2 million in support.

In the Democratic Brad Sherman/Howard Berman race in the San Fernando Valley, Sherman touts his endorsement from Bill Clinton; Berman counts both of California's U.S. Senators, Governor Jerry Brown, and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa among his supporters.

And both Berman and Sheman have gone after GOP endorsements as well, since registered Democrats make up fewer than half the voters in the district. Republicans and voters who decline to pick a party are the majority.

The California Democratic Party, which has made endorsements in some same-party races (Joe Baca over Gloria Negrete McLeod; Janice Hahn over Laura Richardson), avoided bloodshed in the Sherman/Berman race by not endorsing either man.