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RA_AD5_ANDY_ANDREW_PUGNO.JPGRepublican Andrew Pugno, who wrote and served as legal counsel to California's 2008 proposition to ban gay marriage, is laying the groundwork for a possible challenge to Republican Assemblywoman Beth Gaines.

The Folsom attorney, who lost an Assembly bid in 2010, filed a statement of intention to run for the 6th Assembly District on Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State. The move allows potential candidates to open a campaign finance committee.

At least two voters in the district also received a call from a polling firm Tuesday night that asked questions about possible ballot designations and a Pugno-Gaines match up. The owner of Lawrence Research, which one voter said was identified as the polling outfit, declined to comment, citing client confidentiality policies.

Pugno, who has not responded to messages seeking comment on his plans, faces a Friday filing deadline to decide whether to enter the race. Because the period for filing nomination signatures in lieu of a filing fee has passed, he would have to pay a filing fee of roughly $953.

Despite early fundraising success fueled by Proposition 8 supporters, Pugno lost a 2010 race for the top-targeted 5th Assembly District to Democrat Richard Pan, 49 percent to 46 percent. The suburban Sacramento Assembly seat. which had a slight voter registration advantage for Republicans at the time of the election, had been in GOP hands for more than two decades.

Republicans hold a 20-point voter registration in the newly drawn 6th Assembly District, which includes parts of El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties. Gaines, who was elected to the Assembly in a 2011 special contest held to fill a vacancy created by her husband's election to the state Senate, had raised about $31,000 for her re-election bid as of the end of 2011. Republican Linda Park and Lincoln Democrat Reginald Bronner have also announced candidacies for the seat.

PHOTO CAPTION: Republican candidate Andrew Pugno talks with supporters while awaiting election returns on June 8, 2010. Randy Allen / Sacramento Bee file, 2010



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