Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/28/2012 07:06:10 AM PDT
Updated: 10/28/2012 11:22:13 PM PDT

The competition between Mike Morrell and Russ Warner for an Inland Empire Assembly seat has turned into a the kind of race in which one side has wrung an endorsement from a family dispute and the other claimed in an email to supporters that his opponent has “promoted domestic terrorism.”

If that’s not enough, the campaign’s disputes also include an argument over whether one candidate made insensitive comments on the subject of rape.

The terrorism allegation and other political attacks come from the hotbed of extremism that has erupted in the 40th Assembly District, where Morrell, the Republican incumbent, and Warner, the Democratic challenger are seeking votes in an area where neither major party holds an advantage among registered voters.

The 40th Assembly District is a horseshoe-shaped territory that in the west begins around the Upland and Rancho Cucamonga areas, ranges up through the Cajon Pass and then drops back down to the Highland and Redlands areas.

Voters following the race have had an opportunity to witness the spectacle of one of the region’s most personal campaigns.

Not surprisingly, both Warner and Morrell have said the other side is the one that has been out of line.

“It’s not personal. We’re not going to say anything about family,” Warner said. “It’s about the issues.”

Warner, who owns a periodicals distribution business, is the one who accused his opponent of promoting political violence.

His campaign, however, is not the one that advertised an endorsement from his opponent’s sibling. That one came from Morrell’s camp.

“You always expect negative campaigning from your opponent, but he has made up a lot of things,” Morrell said.

The volley began on Oct. 12, the day a federal jury convicted medical marijuana provider Aaron Sandusky of breaking drug laws.

What does that have to do with the election? That evening, Warner’s team dispatched a news release demanding Morrell donate a $2,500 contribution he received from Sandusky to charity.

Fair or unfair? Getting money from a convicted felon is generally not the kind of thing that looks good on a campaign disclosure, even if movements to legalize or decriminalize cannabis seem to be gaining popularity across the country.

On the other hand, Sandusky gave his money to Morrell in 2003 in the midst of what was an ultimately unsuccessful Assembly campaign for Morrell and well before Sandusky was on the FBI’s bad side.

Warner followed up three days later by calling attention to a video in which Morrell said California officials “should be shot” for wasting money.

Morrell’s remarks could be interpreted as an off-hand remark and an impolitic expression of his frustrations with Sacramento, but Warner’s team has pressed hard on the assemblyman’s words.

In interviews, Warner spokesman Ted Lehrer invoked memory of the 2011 shootings in Tucson, where gunman Jared Lee Loughner shot and wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a rampage that killed six people and wounded several others.

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