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GOP candidate in Calif. vows to stay in race

A Republican congressional candidate who acknowledged his campaign sent a letter threatening Hispanic immigrant voters insists he will stay in the race despite mounting pressure for him to step aside.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Republican congressional candidate whose campaign was linked to an intimidating letter sent to Hispanic voters promised Sunday to stay in the race despite pressure to withdraw.

“I’m not going to quit this race; I’m going to win this race,” Tan Nguyen told reporters at his campaign headquarters.

Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant trying to unseat popular Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez, last week blamed an unidentified staffer for sending out 14,000 letters warning immigrants they could be deported or jailed for voting in next month’s election. The mailings sparked state and federal probes.

Nguyen said he did not authorize or approve the letter, and implied that Sanchez was behind the investigations.

“There has been no crime committed so why is there a criminal investigation three weeks prior to a very important election? What is going on? Who is fueling this investigation?” he asked.

Calls seeking comment from Sanchez were not immediately returned.

The Orange County Republican Party has called for his resignation and he has received criticism from many, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On Friday, after Nguyen’s campaign headquarters was searched by California Department of Justice investigators, a handful of local candidates showed up to condemn the letter and suggest Nguyen might not be the only Republican involved.

Nguyen’s residence, and that of a home listed as belonging to one of his staffers, also were searched by investigators on Friday.

The letter, written in Spanish, was mailed to an estimated 14,000 Democratic voters in Orange County. It warned: “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.”

Immigrants who have become naturalized U.S. citizens are eligible to vote.