The Corner

Dan Lungren

Former congressman Dan Lungren is hoping for a comeback in a different House seat from the one he held in the 1980s. The Republican primary for the third district of California was held last week, but it still hasn’t been called. Lungren is narrowly ahead, and hopes to be declared the winner on Wednesday.

Lungren was the early favorite for the nomination and racked up some big endorsements. But Lungren became–with apologies to both men–the John Kerry of the race. The pre-season of the campaign did not go well for him. Some conservatives, notably the Club for Growth, backed Rico Oller for the nomination instead. The reasoning, as Club president Stephen Moore explained to me two weeks ago, was that Lungren was going nowhere and that conservatives had to get behind Oller to keep a third candidate–Mary Ose, a moderate and the incumbent congressman’s sister–from winning the primary. Oller also won the support of some Republican congressmen, such as John Doolittle, a low-ranking member of the House leadership.

As it turned out, Ose came in a distant third. Well, hindsight is always 20/20.

If Lungren wins in November, he will almost certainly be voting with the Club for Growth on all the issues that count. Here’s hoping that the Club has a better success rate for the year than it had last Tuesday–and that it picks the right battles.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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