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Conaway leads in 8th Congressional District polling

Barstow-area Democrat Jackie Conaway led the pack of 8th Congressional District candidates in a recent poll, while Victorville Councilwoman Angela Valles and 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt were locked in a dead heat for second place, according to results released Thursday by an independent political consulting firm.

The Los Angeles-based Blair Biggs Campaigns — which is now running Valles’ campaign — conducted what it called a scientific telephone survey on March 8 among 364 likely voters drawn from voter registration files.

The poll asked voters to choose among nine candidates. It cited Conaway and John Pinkerton as Democrats; Anthony Adams as no party preference; and Valles, Mitzelfelt, Paul Cook, Gregg Imus, Ryan McEachron, Gregg Imus and Phil Liberatore as Republicans.

The results showed 18 percent of voters favored Conaway, with Mitzelfelt and Valles each pulling in 15 percent. The pollsters said they were surprised Valles took so much of the vote, with Mitzelfelt considered the bigger political player and far bigger fundraiser.

Doug Johnson, fellow with Claremont McKenna College’s Rose Institute on State and Local Government, cautioned he’d be “wary of those polls.”

But he also acknowledged that name recognition hasn’t historically mattered as much in the High Desert as other parts of the state — perhaps with the exception of retiring Rep. Jerry Lewis, who’s retiring this year after 17 terms.

“Established names certainly have an advantage but they don’t have a lock,” Johnson said. “Tim Donnelly’s (2010) Assembly election proved that.”

In the March 8 poll, Cook came in third at 12.5 percent, followed by Pinkerton at 12 percent, McEachron at 10.5 percent and Adams at 7 percent. Imus pulled in 5.5 percent and Liberatore had 5 percent.

“Polls are snapshots in time, and voter opinions can change quickly in response to news and campaign activity,” Blair Briggs stated in the release. “Campaigns matter, and there is much campaigning to do. Nonetheless, it is clear that this contest is competitive, but with little time left and a very crowded race, Councilwoman Angela Valles and county Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt have a strong head start on the other candidates.”

The poll left out four candidates that filed as of Wednesday’s deadline, all Republicans: Dennis Albertsen, George Craig, Bill Jensen and Joseph Napolitano.

The poll had a sampling error rate of plus or minus 5.16 percent and a 95 percent level of confidence. Each name on the ballot was randomly rotated each automated call.

Of those surveyed, 49 percent identified as Republican, 35 percent as Democrat and 16 percent as Independent.

Blair Briggs Campaigns cite Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, Congressmen Rick Renzi and Jim Rogan and the California and Hawaii Republican parties as some of their prior clients.

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