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Redlands Democrats endorse Pete Aguilar in crowded House race

Hoping to help narrow the field of challengers to a Republican incumbent next year, a Democratic organization in the Inland Empire endorsed Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar for Congress.

Aguilar won nearly 86% of the endorsement votes cast by members of the Redlands Area Democratic Club over the weekend, club officials said.

The rest of the votes were split between attorney Elois Gomez Reyes (11%) and San Bernardino Unified School Board member Danny Tillman (3%).  Former Rep. Joe Baca, who lost his reelection bid in a neighboring district last year, did not receive any votes, the officials said.

"I am very grateful for this endorsement and I'm excited to continue building a strong coalition to take the fight on behalf of Inland Empire families to the halls of Congress," Aguilar said in a statement released by his campaign.

Aguilar had been favored to win the 31st Congressional District seat last year.  But  he finished the primary in third place after he and three other candidates split the party vote in the Democrat-leaning district, leaving two Republicans to vie for the seat.  Rep. Gary Miller (R-Rancho Cucamonga) won and has said he intends to campaign hard to keep the seat.

The endorsement came unusually early in the campaign cycle, but club President Steve Chapman said there was a good reason for that.

"We hope by acting early, Democrats will united behind Pete Aguilar and elect him to Congress in 2014," Chapman said in a statement announcing the endorsement.

Aguilar already had collected endorsements from more than a dozen Democratic House members from California, plus U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected officials.

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jean.merl@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeanmerl

 

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