By Beau Yarbrough, The Sun
Posted: 10/29/14, 4:16 PM PDT |

Like the immortal words of Han Solo, never tell Bob Conaway the odds.

The 8th Congressional District, which represents the eastern desert border of California, including portions of San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono Counties, leans to the right — as of Sept. 5, almost 40 percent of the 299,581 registered voters are registered Republicans, more than 7 percent more than registered as Democrats.

Democrat Conaway is facing Paul Cook, an incumbent Republican, both of which, on paper, give Cook an edge. (In 2012, 90 percent of incumbents were re-elected to Congress, although the incumbency advantage has been slipping recently.)

And as of Oct. 15, Cook’s political war chest and campaign spending far outstrip Conaway’s: Cook had received $752,647 since Jan. 1, 2013, according to the Federal Election Commission, and he’d spent $272,861. In contrast, Conaway had collected $5,895 and spent $5,968.

But Conaway says he’s optimistic.

“He’s losing, he’s losing,” the Apple Valley attorney said of Cook. “He’s not getting the Democrat vote. They’re onto him.”

When he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, Cook faced off against fellow Republican Greg Imus, winning handily with 57.6 percent of the vote.

“Eighteen percent of the votes he got in the previous election were Democrats,” Conaway said. “He’s not going to get those again.”

Despite his apparent advantages, anything could happen, said Cook, formerly an assemblyman from 2006 to 2012 before being termed out, following eight years on the Yucca Valley town council.

“You never know,” he said.

A week before the election, the congressman was back in his district for an extended stay, visiting sites around his 20,000-square-mile district.

“I want to make a difference,” he said. “That’s the only reason I’m here.”

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