By PE Politics
September 1, 2011 7:52 AM

Inland Rep. Jerry Lewis is staying mum on a decision that holds major implications for congressional incumbents and hopefuls around Southern California: if, and where, he’ll seek an 18th term in Washington.

The Redlands Republican’s silence is leading to rampant speculation from coast-to-coast, where political handicappers and Lewis’ colleagues await his announcement.

New congressional lines drawn by the state redistricting panel place Lewis, 76, in a slightly Democratic-leaning San Bernardino County district also occupied by Rep. Joe Baca. He could run there or in a safer Republican seat that includes the High Desert and parts of Mono and Inyo counties — or he could call it quits.

In a recent interview, Lewis said he is still weighing his options. But the Beltway-based Rothenberg Political Report this week, citing “local GOP sources” suggested Lewis is intent on running in the district where he lives, which includes San Bernardino, Redlands and surrounding communities.

If he chooses to run there, Baca, D-Rialto, would have to choose between a showdown with Lewis or a potentially easier race in an Ontario-anchored seat that leans more heavily Democratic — and Hispanic.

Baca, however, said this week that his gut feeling is that Lewis will opt out of a re-election bid.

“My take is, he retires,” Baca said before adding the caveat, “anything can happen.”

Here’s a look at the pros and cons Lewis is likely weighing for each choice:

The 31st Congressional District:

To read entire story, click here.