Republicans Eyeing Feinstein''s Senate Seat

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - California Democrat Diane Feinstein is running for a third term in the US Senate this year, and several Republicans are vying for the chance to contest her seat this November - a seat that many Republicans think is vulnerable.

"Her numbers are not terrific and show that she could be beaten," NRSC spokesman Stuart Roy told

According to Roy, polls show that statewide support for Feinstein is running at just over 50 percent, which he says is low for an incumbent. "Normally we consider any incumbent under 55 [percent] and hanging around the 50 percent mark to be vulnerable," said Roy.

Feinstein's Republican opponent will be chosen in March during the state primary. The current field includes retiring Rep. Tom Campbell of San Jose, State Sen. Ray Haynes of Riverside, San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, and Orange County businessman J.P. Gough.

Of the four, Campbell is clearly the most liberal, having stated his support for Internet sales taxes and government-sponsored drug distribution programs for addicts, which he says has been successful in Belgium. Additionally, he has opposed California Proposition 22, the "Protection of Marriage Initiative" that establishes "only marriage between a man and a woman" as valid in California.

"Campbell represents the liberal wing of the Republican Party," said Brian Kennedy of the Claremont Institute, a California think tank.

Kennedy believes that Haynes will emerge as the leading conservative challenger to Campbell for the Republican nomination.

" I think the race will be between Haynes and Campbell," Kennedy told Kennedy characterized Haynes as "very conservative."

Haynes readily labels himself a conservative. While attending the American Conservative Union's annual conference near Washington, D.C., Haynes told that he believes Californians will elect a conservative to the U.S. Senate if the candidate is unambiguous and clearly labels himself as such.

"I think we need to have someone out there who will actually be proud of being a conservative as opposed to apologizing for it," Haynes said.

Haynes said that Campbell is out of touch with his conservative constituents and the majority of Republicans.

"The first thing he [Campbell] proposes in his campaign for the United States Senate is government run, taxpayer financed crack houses. And the second thing he proposes in his run for the U.S. Senate is to tax the Internet," said Haynes.

Campbell's campaign spokesman Suhail Kahn told that Campbell is "fiscally conservative," but "more socially moderate" than his opponents for the Senate nomination, which he says more accurately reflects the beliefs of California voters. "Arguably, there has been a shift in California to the center," said Kahn.

Horn has also criticized Campbell as being too liberal for California Republicans.

"Congressman Tom Campbell once again has proved his ideas are far outside the mainstream," Horn told the Sacramento Bee. "What rational person would advocate spending taxpayer money purchasing cocaine from the Cali cartel to provide to our citizens.

Horn's spokesperson Karen Prescott told that Horn, a decorated Vietnam veteran and avocado rancher, is not only socially conservative but "has a strong business sense" that makes him the best GOP candidate.

"Bill is of the people," said Prescott.

Gough could not be reached for comment.