10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

At last week’s during Chinese Moon Festival in Riverside, state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod and Rep. Joe Baca crossed paths as the region’s senior elected Democrats.

Now they’re also rivals for the same congressional seat.

Baca, D-Rialto, announced that he will run for re-election in the redrawn 35th Congressional District only days after Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, officially became a candidate there.

In an interview last week, Negrete McLeod ruled out that she would instead run in the neighboring 31st Congressional District, where Baca lives, to avoid a bruising intraparty showdown.

“I live in the 35th,” she said. She and Baca have not spoken since the congressman’s announcement.

Another prominent Democrat looking at the 35th, Assemblywoman Norma Torres , D-Pomona, has opened an exploratory committee. Torres , however, also seems to be covering her bases for staying in Sacramento.

Last Thursday, Torres hosted a “Day at the Races” fundraiser at the Pomona fairgrounds for her Assembly 2012 committee. “Owner’s Circle” tickets cost $2,500, “Handicapper” tickets cost $1,000, “Jockey” tickets cost $500, and “Bet it All” tickets went for $250.

Watch-dogged

A left-leaning advocacy group filed an ethics complaint last week against Inland Rep. Darrell Issa , claiming the powerful chairman of the House Oversight Committee has used his influence in Congress to add to his already immense fortune.

The complaint filed in with the Office of Congressional Ethics by the Washington-based American Family Voices borrows heavily from a controversial New York Times story that suggested Issa’s dealings in Congress have directly benefited his personal real estate and electronics businesses.

“There is ample reason to believe that Representative Issa has violated House rules,” American Family Voices President Mike Lux wrote to the office. “A review by the Office of Congressional Ethics is urgently needed.”

Issa, who has challenged the Times article and won multiple corrections, conducted his own review of Lux and American Family Values. The Vista Republican, whose district includes parts of southwestern Riverside County, concluded the complaint is part of a smear campaign orchestrated by the White House, which has been the target of several of Issa’s Oversight Committee probes.

“This complaint is entirely without merit,” Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said. “The White House has used an assortment of outside progressive groups in an effort to attack oversight and Chairman Issa directly. This is just their latest salvo in an ongoing effort to obstruct oversight.”

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