Former Navy SEAL enters race for Hunter's seat
North County Times (2007-09-11) Edward Sifuentes
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More Info: CA 50 Congressional District
By: EDWARD SIFUENTES - Staff Writer
NORTH COUNTY -- Marine Corps Capt. Duncan Duane Hunter will not be the only candidate for the 52nd Congressional District seat who can claim a distinguished military career.
Mike Lumpkin, a Democrat who recently announced his candidacy, is a retired Navy commander who served 21 years as a Navy SEAL and a military liaison in Congress. The 42-year-old could face a steep challenge in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by about 50,000 registered voters.
The two military men have jumped into an early race for the seat currently held by Hunter's father, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon.
Lumpkin, a self-described moderate Democrat, said his message, which includes controlling government spending and securing the nation's borders, will catch on with voters in the district, which covers much of East County and Ramona and Poway in North County.
"I think I have a message that will resonate with both Democrats and Republicans," he said.
The younger Hunter, a Republican, is serving in Afghanistan and could not be reached for comment.
Dave Gilliard, the junior Hunter's campaign consultant, said he was not previously aware of Lumpkin's candidacy.
"We take all challengers seriously, but we're confident that the district will send a Republican to Washington," Gilliard said.
Lumpkin, 42, said he believes he has more experience than his opponent in dealing with the concerns of residents in the district. He served as deputy commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force while in Iraq and holds a master's degree in national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.
On his Web site, Lumpkin, who lives in Jamul, lists national security, immigration reform, deficit spending and education as some of his top concerns. According to the site, the country's "uncontrolled" southern border "leaves San Diegans physically and economically at risk for terrorist attacks."
On immigration, Lumpkin's site says that "America's interests are not served by leaving laws on the books that we refuse to properly fund and enforce."
Gilliard said Lumpkin appears to be tailoring his message to the Republican-dominated district.
"Obviously, he's not going to run as a Nancy Pelosi, clone in this district," Gilliard said of the Democratic congresswoman from San Francisco who pushes more liberal causes.
Jess Durfee, chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said Lumpkin does represent the diversity of the district and of the Democratic party.
"All those issues are consistent with Democratic positions," Durfee said. "He may be a more moderate Democrat, but we're a big-tent party and we welcome moderate positions."
Born in Oceanside, Lumpkin grew up in Vista and attended UC San Diego. He and his wife, Jill Lumpkin, have a grown son and two granddaughters.
Lumpkin said he saw the opportunity to run for Congress while serving at the Special Operations Command Office of Legislative Affairs in Washington, where he served as a liaison to Congress on policy and appropriation matters for the country's special operations forces, such as the SEALs.
Lumpkin said he hopes to convince voters to look at his experience rather than his opponent's name recognition.
"A congressional district is too important to pass from father to son as a birthright because of name recognition when America's future is at stake," he said.
-- Contact staff writer Edward Sifuentes at (760) 740-3511 or firstname.lastname@example.org