Friday, October 20, 2006

Calif. Republicans want candidate to leave race

Calif. Republicans want candidate to leave race

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Republicans in southern California asked one of their party's congressional candidates to quit his race because his office sent out a letter telling Hispanics it was illegal for immigrants to vote.

Scott Baugh, chairman of the Republican party in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, called on Tan Nguyen to withdraw from his race against Democratic incumbent Rep. Loretta Sanchez because of the letter, which Baugh said Nguyen knew about before it was sent to 14,000 newly registered Hispanic voters.

"I've learned that Mr. Nguyen not only was aware (of the letter), but was also involved in making sure it got expedited," Baugh said.

"He has a chance to do the honorable thing and withdraw from the race."

But Nguyen, a Vietnamese-born investment advisor seeking to unseat the popular five-term incumbent in California's 47th congressional district, insisted he did not know about the letter before it was sent and had subsequently fired an aide responsible for it.

Sanchez, who is favored to win in November, has condemned the Spanish-language letter as an attempt to intimidate legitimate voters.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site, immigrants who become U.S. citizens can vote in U.S. elections.

Nguyen said his office would cooperate with law enforcement agencies, including the California Attorney General's office, which are investigating the letter.

Republicans, including Nguyen, have made securing the U.S. border with Mexico a hot issue ahead of midterm congressional elections. The Republican-controlled Congress failed to revamp the nation's immigration law this year.

Nguyen's letter told recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time, and you will be deported for voting without having a right to do so."

The letter also urged noncitizens to refuse to "listen to any politician that tells you the opposite. They are only looking out for their own interests. They only want to win elections without any regard to what happens to you."