State Senator Bob Dutton and State Assemblyman Mike Morrell

Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 12/04/2011 06:03:30 AM PST

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Election Day may be about 11 months away, but campaigning for the 40th Assembly District seat has quickly progressed.

Polling has been conducted, an endorsement has been made, fundraising has begun and the politicking has been ongoing.

But this isn’t your typical political race.

Two well-known Republican lawmakers from Rancho Cucamonga – Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton and Assemblyman Mike Morrell – are running against each other.

“Civil wars are always the toughest,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.

“Primaries can be difficult because very often the candidates don’t have great issue differences and the race turns personal rather than philosophical.”

Two polls were recently completed to determine who was preferable to voters – Dutton and Morrell each finished ahead in one of them.

A Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted in late September showed Dutton had a 16-point lead among voters who voted in three of the last four elections. Dutton said he had paid for the poll.

Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, who is chairman of the Elections Committee for Republicans in the Assembly, said his caucus ran a poll a month ago that showed Morrell ahead of Dutton.

The poll conducted by Wilson Allen Perkins Opinion Research gave Morrell a 13-point advantage over Dutton. Dutton said he planned to obtain a copy.

Hagman said Morrell has the endorsement of most Republicans in the caucus, including Assembly GOP Leader Connie Conway of Visalia.

“I think what it’s going to come down to is voters have to make a decision,” Morrell said. “Do they want his 14 years of political experience, including his time on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, or do the voters want my 35 years of business experience.”

Dutton, who represented Morrell’s current 63rd Assembly District from 2002 to 2004, said political experience does count.

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