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Radanovich: Pombo Should Have ‘Run in His Own District’

Rep. George Radanovich (R-Calif.) wants to make one thing clear: He believes state Sen. Jeff Denham, not former Rep. Richard Pombo, is the best GOP candidate to succeed him when he retires this year.In a strongly worded statement distributed to Members and the press, Radanovich hit back at what he said is a “misinformation campaign— being conducted by “some individuals associated with the Richard Pombo campaign.—Pombo, who lost re-election in the neighboring 11th district in 2006, was in Washington, D.C., making the rounds Tuesday and Wednesday, including attending a “kickoff fundraiser— at the National Rifle Association.“These people are telling others that I would not have endorsed State Senator Jeff Denham had I known that Richard Pombo was interested in running for my congressional district,— Radanovich said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.—He concluded: “Had Richard Pombo asked for my opinion or support, I would have recommended that he run in his own district against the weak and unpopular Democrat who defeated him in 2006.—In a meeting with Roll Call on Wednesday, Pombo alluded to the fact that Radanovich didn’t think he was going to run when asked about the incumbent’s endorsement of Denham. He also added that he and Radanovich are friends and that the seven other Members of the California delegation who endorsed Denham did so before Pombo joined the race.Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) has since switched his endorsement to Pombo, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) rescinded his support and is remaining neutral in the primary. California GOP Reps. Devin Nunes and Tom McClintock are also backing the former Congressman.In his statement, Radanovich went on to make several not-so-veiled jabs at Pombo, saying he reached out to Denham after he decided to retire and asked him to run because the state Senator is “a true conservative with unquestioned integrity,— as opposed, presumably, to Pombo, who was tainted by ethics troubles during his 14 years in the House.“My first concern when looking for a qualified candidate to support was an ability to keep this district in Republican hands without having to spend large amounts of funds,— Radanovich said. Denham’s campaign has argued that if Pombo is the nominee in the Republican-leaning 19th district seat, Democrats and environmental groups will be far more motivated to spend money and run TV ads against him.Radanovich announced in late December that he would not run for a ninth term and endorsed Denham his chosen successor. Neither Pombo nor Denham actually lives in the 19th district, which is in California’s Central Valley and includes Modesto and a chunk of Fresno.Former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson and Fresno City Councilman Larry Westerlund are also running for the GOP nod.Denham is headed to Washington for his own round of meet and greets next week.

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