Schwarzenegger Cannot Appoint Successor to Cunningham

Times Staff Writer

Once Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger receives official notification of the resignation of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe), he has two weeks to call a special election in the 50th Congressional District. Unlike a Senate vacancy, he cannot appoint a successor.

The law allows the governor to tack an election onto a previously scheduled election, so a special election to complete Cunningham’s term could be held in June, when a primary will be held anyway for candidates seeking a full two-year term in Cunningham’s old district.

The candidate winning the special election would have to run again in November to earn a two-year term. In a special election, any candidate receiving a majority of votes is declared the winner without a runoff.

Francine Busby, a school board member in Cardiff, had announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination even before the federal government launched an investigation into Cunningham’s financial links to military contractors.


Although the district, stretching from La Jolla to Carlsbad and inland to Escondido, is 45% Republican and 30% Democratic, Busby has long asserted that Cunningham’s conservatism was out of step with voters.

Jockeying in the Republican ranks began as soon as Cunningham announced in July that he would not seek reelection.

State Sen. Bill Morrow and former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian have announced their candidacies. Other possible GOP candidates include county Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, former Rep. Brian Bilbray, former Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest, Assemblyman Mark Wyland, business leader Allan Uke and former San Diego Mayor Susan Golding.