Bob Dutton, left. Gary Miller, right.

Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/19/2012 11:19:19 AM PST

The race for the 31st District got more interesting this week with state Sen. Bob Dutton officially tossing his hat in the ring.

Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, will face a field of contenders that includes Rep. Gary Miller, R-Diamond Bar; Renea Wickman, the cofounder of a nonprofit aimed at helping juvenile offenders readjust to society; Justin Kim, an attorney from Loma Linda; and Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar.

The new 31st District seat stretches up from Rancho Cucamonga in the west through Muscoy and San Bernardino, and includes Colton, Grand Terrace and Redlands.

Dutton’s service includes two terms on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council and 10 years as a state lawmaker. In an interview on Thursday, Dutton said he hopes voters recognize that he isn’t a D.C. politician.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Dutton said “too many Washington, D.C. politicians allow special interests to corrupt their decision making at the expense of solving local problems.”

“I don’t think people want status quo,” Dutton said.

Miller, who is a real estate developer, said he’s a natural representative for the area because of the number of projects he has in the district.

Miller said he’s also worked to provide federal help in areas of housing, water and transportation to the residents of the district. Miller, who added he will move to Rancho Cucamonga, said he’s familiar with the district because of development and real estate projects he’s overseen in the area.

“I’ve known Bob for years and he’s a friend of mine,” Miller said. “He knows I spent most of my business career in that area. I’m not a stranger at all. I have nothing negative to say about Bob. I hope we don’t go there. That’s not my goal.”

Dutton, who owns a real estate, management and investment firm in Rancho Cucamonga, said he doesn’t have active business in the area and called attention to Miller’s current dealings.

“I don’t have any real estate or investment developments in the area,” Dutton said. “Gary does, or it sounds like he does, and I think frankly, that’s a conflict of interest.”

Claremont McKenna political science professor Jack Pitney said the contest should prove expensive with two relatively well-known politicians in the race.

“Any time you have two politicians with an extensive political base going against each other in a primary, a lot of money is going to go into that campaign,” Pitney said.

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