U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield

BY JIM MILLER
SACRAMENTO BUREAU
jmiller@pe.co

Published: 09 January 2012 08:26 PM

SACRAMENTO — Republicans are well-positioned to win two newly drawn congressional swing seats in Inland Southern California this fall, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said Monday.

Democrats have registration advantages in Riverside County’s 41st and San Bernardino County’s 31st congressional districts. Barack Obama and Jerry Brown prevailed in the districts in 2008 and 2010. And Obama will be on the ballot again, increasing turnout.

But McCarthy, a former Assembly Republican leader who oversees candidate-recruitment efforts for the House GOP, said he is confident that the party can carry the new Inland districts, which have been included on experts’ lists of 2012 battleground seats.

About 18 percent of voters in the two districts do not have a party preference. Decline-to-state voters in the inland areas tend to be more conservative than their counterparts who live closer to the coast, McCarthy said.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, has not said if he will run for re-election in the 31st or in the neighboring 8th Congressional District of if he will retire. Two Democrats, Rancho Cucamonga businessman Russ Warner and non-profit founder Renea Wickman, have declared their candidacy for the 31st.

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