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California gaming debate heats up

25 October 2006

CALIFORNIA – As reported by the California Press Enterprise: "The two candidates in the tight race to represent the Inland area's 80th Assembly District hold significantly different views on tribal gaming, one of the region's signature issues in the Legislature.

"Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, is running for a third term against Democrat Steve Clute of Palm Desert, who served in the Assembly in the 1980s.

"Stretching from Banning to Blythe to the U.S.-Mexico border, the 80th covers all or part of the reservations of nine federally recognized tribes, including seven with casinos. Among them are the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Banning, two of the wealthiest and most politically active tribes in the state.

"Gaming tribes have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the 80th race so far, either to promote Garcia or to attack Clute. Money from labor-union critics of the Agua Caliente tribe and others has fueled Clute's effort via Democratic campaign committees.

"…Hanging over the race is the continuing battle over lucrative renegotiated gaming compacts for several tribes unveiled in August…"

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