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May 06, 2009

Tran prepares to challenge Loretta Sanchez

California GOP Assemblyman Van Tran has formed an exploratory committee in preparation for a campaign against Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.)

“I’m deeply concerned about our economy. California’s unemployment is up 33% in the past five months, but we’re not seeing solutions in Washington,” Tran said in a statement. 

“If I run for Congress, my first priority will be passing meaningful economic reforms to create more jobs and get Californians working.”

His step to explore a Congressional campaign is a victory for House Republicans, who have been aggressively courting Tran to run for Congress. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the National Republican Congressional Committee’s recruitment chair, called Tran “one of the top people” he’s recruited this election cycle in POLITICO last month.

If elected, Tran would be the second Vietnamese-American in Congress, after Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-La.). He has close ties to the Vietnamese community in the district – an important asset in a district with the largest concentration of Vietnamese voters in the country.

Tran’s recruitment is part of House Republicans’ strategy to target seats that the party hasn’t contested in recent election cycles. The NRCC recently landed Springfield mayor Sid Leiken to run against Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and has their eyes on Reps. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) and Marion Berry (D-Ark.).

But unseating Sanchez will be a difficult task for the GOP. The seven-term congresswoman has hasn’t received less than 60 percent of the vote since her first re-election in 1998. In 2006, she won 62 percent against a Vietnamese-American opponent who spent $548,000 on his unsuccessful bid.

Democrats hold a 13-point registration advantage in the district, and Barack Obama won 60 percent of the vote there in 2008.

Responding to Tran's candidacy, Sanchez touted her accomplishments for the constituents in her district and highlighted her leadership positions in the House.

“I have had the great honor of serving the people of California’s 47th Congressional District for over twelve years, and always welcomed a spirited debate about the issues confronting our communities," Sanchez said in a statement.

“During this time I have always been an independent voice for the people of Orange County, and with every vote I’ve cast, I have always put the people of Orange County first."