WASHINGTON – Fresno-area businessman Case Lawrence is preparing a potential challenge against Rep. Jim Costa.
The 38-year-old Clovis native said Wednesday that he is "frustrated by the direction of the country" and unhappy with the work of Costa, D-Fresno. Lawrence, a Republican, said he expects to make a formal campaign decision by early October.
"I'm strongly considering it," Lawrence said Wednesday. "I'm putting the campaign structure in place, should I decide to run."
The redrawn congressional district upon which Lawrence now has his eye encompasses districts currently represented by Costa and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced. Cardoza said several weeks ago he is "not prepared to say yet" whether he will run in 2012.
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Costa has stressed his intention to run. Wednesday, though, he said, "We've got a lot of time next year to discuss politics. My focus now is on jobs and getting our economy back on track."
Lawrence has been in serious discussions with veteran Republican campaign professional John Allan Peschong, whose past work includes Carly Fiorina's failed 2010 Senate race.
Fiorina won more votes than Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in the area that Lawrence might hope to represent, he noted. Democrats, however, enjoy a voter registration advantage in the redrawn district of 48% to 33%.
Lawrence also has been working with the offices of Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, and Jeff Denham, R-Atwater.
A father of six, whose youngest child was born this week, Lawrence said he is prepared to move his family from Clovis to the Sunnyside neighborhood that's inside the new congressional district.
A 1991 graduate of Clovis West High School, Lawrence graduated from Brigham Young University and performed his Mormon missionary obligations in Eastern Europe before going to law school at Duke University.
Lawrence founded and serves as chief executive officer of a company called CargoBay, which provides businesses office and storage space, and he is currently developing a recreational trampoline park called SkyWalk in Madera County.
"I think I can bring some experience in job creation," Lawrence said, contrasting his background with that of Costa.
Costa has held state or federal elected office since 1978, save for several years in between the state Senate and the House of Representatives. Lawrence has not run for office before. Aside from a $1,000 contribution to Nunes in 2001, records show he has not been a contributor to federal campaigns.
National Republican Congressional Committee operatives, who posted a new anti-Cardoza television ad today, already have indicated they plan to take the offensive against Central Valley Democrats.