Westerlund Considers Congress

Fresno, California Now, Fresno City Council member Larry Westerlund tells us he's exploring a campaign for the job. Westerlund is feeling out how much support he'd have and how much money he'd have to raise for a primary race political analysts say could be extremely expensive and bruising.

The race is on to get to Capitol Hill from the Central Valley and the number of people trying to join the race is rising. Westerlund is the latest to test the waters. He cited his Navy anti-terrorism experience as an advantage over his competitors. "Everything I understand about everybody else who's considering this, I certainly have a lot more experience in the military and anti-terrorism activity," he said.

Westerlund is the fourth potential Republican candidate to replace the retiring Radanovich. He joins former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson, St. Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, and Richard Pombo, who lost a congressional seat in Tracy in 2006, despite campaign help from then-President George W. Bush.

As the field grows, so does the cost. "A lot of money is going to be raised," said ABC-30 political analyst Tony Capozzi. "You're looking at millions of dollars because you have two media markets -- one is the Fresno area and another in the Modesto area."

Capozzi said the finances favor Denham because he already raised money for an abbreviated lieutenant governor campaign and because he's a sitting politician. He also has a long list of endorsements, including one from Radanovich, but the frontrunner is often a moving target for other candidates and the attacks have already started.

Patterson points out that he's the only one of the four who actually lives in the district. "I think I know the folks in this district and I think they know me," he said. "And I don't have to pull out the U-Haul trailer to get in the district and live here."

But Capozzi said the Republicans can breathe easy after June, even if they come out of the battle bruised. The district is so heavily Republican, he said it's unlikely a Democrat will steal the election, even against a battered candidate.

Westerlund said he doesn't have a drop dead decision day, but he knows he better hurry up and make up his mind. The primary is on June 8, just about six months away.

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