Another early exit for a GOP candidate?

Party leaders in Orange County, Calif., want their candidate for Congress to leave the race in the wake of threatening letters to Hispanic voters.

Published October 19, 2006 9:53PM (EDT)

Republican leaders in Orange County, Calif., are asking their party's candidate to drop out of the race in California's 47th Congressional District after he admitted that letters threatening Hispanic voters came out of his campaign office.

Tan Nguyen has said that he had nothing to do with sending out the letters and that he has fired the campaign staffer who seems to have been responsible for them. Orange County Republican chairman Scott Baugh says, however, that he has "learned information" that leads him to conclude "that not only was Mr. Nguyen's campaign involved in this, but that Mr. Nguyen was personally involved in expediting the mailer."

Regardless of who's telling the truth, the Republican Party's decision appears to be a no-brainer: Nguyen had virtually no chance of beating incumbent Democrat Loretta Sanchez. By acting quickly to push Nguyen from the race, the GOP can try to stem the damage the letters may cause at no actual cost to the party's overall electoral prospects.

Nguyen has scheduled a news conference for Friday in which he says he'll discuss the mailing as well as his status as a candidate for Congress.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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