Independent Candidate to Challenge Bilbray in CA 52?

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An Independent congressional candidate may be staging a run in California’s 52nd district, joining a race crowded with declared partisan candidates.

The challenger is former Mayor of Santee, Jack Doyle. An exploratory committee is currently looking for feedback on the strength of an independent candidacy in the district. Doyle is expected to make his decision in the coming week.

Congressional District 52 is one of the most receptive districts for independents, with some of the highest Independent registration in the state. It will most certainly be a race to watch in a district which stretches from the coastal communities of La Jolla to Coronado, including the city of San Diego, and inland to Poway.

Already in the race is Republican “incumbent” Rep. Brian Bilbray, businessman John Stahl, and physician Wayne Iverson. Democrats include San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters and former State Assemblywoman Lori Saldana.

While he would be a newcomer to the race, Jack Doyle has a long history in public service. He served from 1984 to 1992 as Mayor of Santee, as well as stints as San Diego Association of Governments Chairman and San Diego Trolley Vice-Chair. He is a retired carrier pilot with the United States Naval Reserves, previously serving in the Persian Gulf.

“For ten years, I balanced budgets. I’m the only candidate who can truly say they balanced budgets,” said Doyle in a recent interview. “I don’t have a history of putting off tomorrow, the expenses of today.”

He thinks an independent bid would give residents in the district the chance to elect someone truly removed from party obligations to obstruct or impede solutions.

“We should put everything on the table and come to consensus,” he said, while acknowledging where some might find trepidation in voting for an independent, “Initially [an independent] seems like the worst of both worlds, but for the nation right now, with Congress in a deadlock, an independent can foster dialogue and be catalysts for compromise.”

The Coronado resident cites his concern about the financial future of the nation as his number one motivation for running. Specifically, his desire for a strong American economy as a legacy to his 10 year old son.

He envisions “no nonsense” action and collaboration as the key towards affecting positive change in Washington.

“We need revenue reform and spending adjustments we can afford. The problem is we haven’t come to any common ground.”

At a time where Congressional approval ratings are at an all time low and the public is weary of party politics, Congress could see more Independents joining its ranks come next year; more Independent than any Congressional class in recent history.

Doyle says this new dynamic would benefit residents of his district, as well as California and the nation as a whole, “A core group of independents could be enough to swing Congress out of stagnation and into action.”

For now, Doyle is testing the waters.

“I’m not so much concerned about resources, but engagement,” says Doyle, who adds that only “lack of enthusiasm” would keep him from an independent run.

A recent IVN poll shows CD 52 to be a very competitive district for an independent. Numbers show that with an independent in the race, marginal leads held by current partisan candidates are reduced to statistical ties. The district becomes a toss-up for the June primary.

When it comes to a November run-off, the poll shows Rep. Bilbray and Democrats in statistical ties. Yet when comparing Rep. Bilbray head-to-head with an independent opponent, the independent wins.

Could Jack Doyle be that candidate?

There is certainly no lack of enthusiasm from the Navy veteran on the prospect of being sent to Washington to represent his fellow San Diegans.

“I was proud to wear this country’s uniform for 30 years and I’d be proud to represent this country again as a member of Congress.”