Scott Marks 9:44 a.m., May 21
Steve Peace for Congress?
Could a well-known independent candidate be preparing to enter North County's already hotly-contested race for the 52nd District congressional seat?
That's one intriguing possibility suggested to political insiders by poll results posted yesterday on IVN.us, a website operated by the San Diego-based U.S. Independent Voter Network.
The 52nd is already the scene of a fierce two party brawl between two Democrats, liberal ex-Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña and middle of the road ex-San Diego city councilman Scott Peters, along with GOP incumbent Brian Bilbray and fellow Republicans Wayne Iverson and John Stahl .
"This district is just slightly more Republican than Democratic and has one of the highest Independent registrations in the state," according to IVN's account.
"Obama leads in this district 49% to 37% against a generic Republican, and Feinstein polls at 44% to 40%. Independents break 57% for the President and 45% for Feinstein."
"Voters in this district like the Open Primary by slightly higher margins than the state as a whole 62% to 24% (Independents: 69% to 24%).
"They also agree with candidates that argue that the best way to shake up Washington would be to elect candidates not connected to political parties, 59% to 33% (Independents 69% to 27%)."
The IVN poll has Bilbray leading the current field at 27 percent, with Saldaña at 21 percent, Peters at 13 percent, and Iverson at 6 percent. 34 percent of respondents said they were undecided.
Then IVN threw a new name into the mix:
"When pollsters added former State Senator Steve Peace as an Independent candidate, Bilbray held his base but Saldaña’s second place lead slipped to within the poll's margin of error leaving Peters, Saldaña, and Peace in a statistical dead heat."
The item went on to say:
"When Bilbray was matched against the Democrats, the race was knotted up in identical 38% to 39% statistical ties.
"But, when pitted head to head against Peace running as an Independent, Bilbray trailed 33% to 40% with Peace dominating the Independent vote 55% to 12%."
But is the voluble Peace, who worked for Padres owner John Moores after his controversial Democratic tenure in the state Assembly and Senate featuring a nasty battle over utility deregulation, actually interested in running for congress?
One hint: Peace is co-chairman of the Independent Voter Project, which runs the Independent Voter Network, and commissioned the poll.
Reached last night by phone, Peace denied he had any interest in making the race and said he used his name in the voter survey only to demonstrate that in San Diego county, unlike Los Angeles, the right independent could actually beat major party contenders.
As IVN put it, "the Independent candidate in San Diego ran ... much better than the LA candidate despite the fact that he had lower name ID and lower favorability ratings [than] the LA candidate.
"Some of this is a reflection of the relative popularity of the other candidates [in Los Angeles] but it also is a reflection of the stronger anti-partisan attitudes of the Independent voters in the San Diego district."
The survey polled 1800 people with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent and covered six congressional districts around the state, IVN.us said.