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Democratic candidate raises hopes

September 02, 2005|By: Alicia Robinson

When Democratic candidate Steve Young officially kicks off his

campaign for the 48th Congressional District seat today in Irvine,

he'll probably be grinning -- and with good reason.

Wednesday night, Young, a 51-year-old Newport Beach attorney,

handily won the endorsement of state Democratic Party delegates, and

his campaign is being run by an energetic team that recently carried

an Ohio Democrat close to an upset victory in a heavily Republican

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district.

But Young and the three other Democrats he'll battle in an Oct. 4

primary face serious obstacles -- including division within their own

party -- in their quest to place a Democrat in former Rep. Chris

Cox's seat.

Voters in the special primary will see 17 candidates on the

ballot, including 10 from the GOP, the party that's dominated local

elections for years. If no candidate takes more than 50% of the

primary vote, the winners from each party will appear on a Dec. 6

general election ballot.

With the state party endorsement under his belt, Young is the

apparent front-runner among Democrats.

He's a trial lawyer with the requisite showmanship, and he was

first to jump into the House race on the Democratic side. Something

about him attracted attention from the team that worked on the

campaign of Paul Hackett, a Democrat who narrowly lost an Aug. 2

special election for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District seat. Hackett

took more than 48% of the vote in that race.

"We see this as a continuation of the momentum in Ohio and the

fact that Democrats can come into a heavily Republican district and

bring a message that resonates with people," said Kate Bedingfield,

Young's press secretary and one member of the five-person team from

Ohio.

"The common link I see between Paul and Steve is their adherence

to their own personal ideology, regardless of what is 'correct' for

the district," she said.

Young hasn't stuck to the issues some Democrats have claimed as

theirs. On the issues page of his slickly-produced website, the top

item is the economy. Immigration, likely to figure in this race

because of the candidacy of Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist,

comes in at No. 3, while the Iraq war is the last item at No. 6.

Other Democrats rank the war higher on their list of talking

points -- it's what drew retired teacher Bea Foster, 67, of North

Tustin, into the race.

"I just decided to run because I didn't see any of the Democrats

being very antiwar," she said. "In fact, my signs are going to say,

'End Iraq war now!'"

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