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GOP Lawmaker Challenges Freshman for California Seat

GOP state Rep. Jeff Gorell announced on Tuesday that he will challenge freshman Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., in the 26th District — a move that temporarily sets up a GOP primary in one of the state’s more competitive House seats.

Gorell joins former state Sen. Tony Strickland in the contest against Brownley. Last year, the Democrat defeated Strickland by a 6 points — smaller than President Barack Obama’s 10-point victory in the district that same year.

But Gorell’s announcement also fuels speculation about the neighboring 25th District, currently held by longtime Republican Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon.

Many Golden State operatives say McKeon may retire at the end of the 113th Congress and that Strickland would move over and run in the 25th District in that scenario.

Strickland is listed as an early supporter of Gorell’s campaign in his campaign announcement. This raises questions of whether Strickland is considering a move to the 25th District before McKeon makes a decision on his political future. Strickland has previously told local news outlets that if McKeon retires, he would run in the 25th Disrict.

McKeon has not announced whether he will run again in 2014. And Strickland has not commented publicly whether he is suspending his bid in the 26th District, where the National Republican Congressional Committee recently put Strickland “On the Radar.”

“I just think Buck needs to decide what he’s going to do, and I don’t want to add to speculation,” Strickland told a local California news outlet earlier this month. “Obviously, I’m a fan of the chairman. If he were to retire, I would take a look at the seat.”

California’s 26th District is currently rated a Safe Democrat contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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