By JOY JUEDES, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/04/2010 10:47:35 PM PST

MENTONE – Rep. Jerry Lewis will have a challenger in the June 8 primary.

Lane Schneider, organizer of the Redlands Tea Party Patriots, announced at the group’s Thursday joint meeting with the Yucaipa Tea Party that she filed this week to run for Lewis’s seat in Congress.

“I know I’m in for a difficult four months,” she said to more than 200 people filling the meeting hall at Mill Creek Cattle Co. in Mentone.

She said Lewis has been in the House of Representatives more than 30 years.

“I think that’s enough time.

“You become pretty entrenched we have someone who is a big spender in the appropriations committee,” she said.

The filing deadline is in three weeks, and local Tea Party supporters asked the group to help Schneider pay the fee, “which is quite expensive,” said member Sandy Ziegler.

Schneider, a Redlands resident, said she wants to represent the area as “one of you.”

“I believe if you go to Washington for 34 years you forget what life is like in Redlands, in Mentone,” she said. “It’s time for people like you and me to step up and challenge professional politicians.

“I’m completely a rookie here, but I really want to be a representative of this area,” she said.

Ziegler also announced the next three meetings – March 4, April 1 and May 6 – will be candidate forums. The first will be state Assembly candidates – four are confirmed – the second gubernatorial – three are confirmed – and the third congressional. So far most confirmed candidates are Democrats and Independents, she said.

The first of the forums will be preplanned questions and the second open mic. The groups are looking for venues and moderators for the forums.

The group is also planning a tax day rally April 15 on Orange Street and Redlands Boulevard. Organizers said the rally last year drew 500 people.

At Thursday night’s meeting, Schneider gave an update on the Citizen Power Campaign, which is gathering signatures for a ballot measure opposing government labor unions’ use of dues for political purposes.

She explained how to properly fill out the petitions for the measure. There are more than 5,000 signatures needed in the Redlands area and more than 650,000 statewide, she said.

“Getting that many statewide by April 15 is a lot of work and we want to do as much in our area as possible,” she said.

Before Schneider’s announcement were two speakers – John Petree from Independence Caucus and Bryce Shonka from the Tenth Amendment Center.

Petree explained how Independence Caucus vets potential candidates and then backs them. One of them is Mike Morrell, who is running for Assembly.

“We’ve got about 20 endorsed candidates across the nation. I’m proud to say California is one of the more active, but it should be,” Petree said.

Independence Caucus is backing an candidates running against Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, Rep. Henry Waxman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Petree said.

He said the goal is to get 40 percent of candidates in office.

“We’re looking at gaining the power of taking over the GOP,” he said.

Shonka’s presentation was “State Sovereignty: The Way Forward.”

The Tenth Amendment Center has operated in California for a few months and advocates the constitutional amendment that states can nullify unconstitutional federal laws.

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