House Democrats landed a top-tier recruit Tuesday when Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar announced he'd mount another challenge of GOP Rep. Gary Miller, but the mayor isn't the only Democrat considering a run in California's 31st District. Attorney Eloise Reyes said Tuesday she is "absolutely" thinking of launching a campaign.
Reyes, who practices law in Colton, Calif., has been active in Democratic politics for years but has never run for office. She supported Aguilar's candidacy last year, even organizing a fundraiser on his behalf. But Reyes said she was "so disappointed" that Democrats didn't win the seat in 2012.
Last year, Aguilar was thought to have a great shot of unseating Miller, who was drawn into a Democratic-leaning district during the redistricting process. But Aguilar was one of four Democrats in the race. While he outpaced the other three Democrats, he finished third in the June primary, behind Miller and another Republican, former state Sen. Bob Dutton. Under California's new top-two primary system, the pair of Republicans advanced to the general, leaving Democrats without a candidate in a district that President Obama won with 58.5 percent of the vote.
Given the makeup of the district, Miller remains one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents heading into 2014, and national Democrats view Aguilar as their strongest potential candidate. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel is hosting a fundraiser for Aguilar on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Reyes' potential candidacy complicates matters for Aguilar and his backers, who would like to avoid a repeat of 2012 by uniting Democratic support behind the Redlands mayor. "Given the unique nature of primaries in California, entering this race is like an in-kind contribution to Gary Miller," one Democratic strategist said.
Reyes said she isn't concerned about dividing the Democratic vote again in 2014, arguing that it's unlikely that a second Republican will join the race this time. Reyes said she will make her final decision on the race over the next few weeks. Her only lingering concern is the well-being of her legal clients. "I don't want any of my clients to feel abandoned," Reyes said. "That's the only thing that's holding me back right now from making a formal announcement."
While she wouldn't reveal their identities, Reyes said several members of Congress have encouraged her to run. She has also met with EMILY's List about her potential candidacy, and she said she's receiving plenty of encouragement from those close to her.
"We're very excited about it. I have friends and family calling already asking when they can schedule the first fundraiser," Reyes said "I tell them, 'Just give me a little bit of time.'"
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