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HJA_5749.JPGA former California candidate for statewide office seen as a "rising star" in GOP circles is again running for office, but this time as an independent.

Damon Dunn, a former professional football player who described himself as "truly conservative" during his 2010 secretary of state run, announced earlier this year his plans to run for mayor of Long Beach. Dunn, who lost the 2010 race to Democrat Debra Bowen by 15 percentage points, said he changed his registration to decline to state ahead of joining the mayoral race.

Though he is critical of his former party's handling of issues like same-sex marriage and poverty, as well as its ability to attract women and minority voters, Dunn said his decision to shed his GOP registration ahead of this run was not intended to be a political statement.

"Local politics mandates that I stand for my own ideas," said Dunn, who was once registered as a Democrat years ago. "I've got to run as my own man. There are problems here in Long Beach and the fixes here are not ideological."

Dunn's bid for mayor is already attracting big-name support. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice headlined a reception to raise money for his race in Menlo Park Tuesday. The two met years ago at Stanford, when Dunn was a student and Rice was a provost.

"We've been friends for a long time," he said.

Damon Dunn is named fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution

PHOTO CREDIT: Damon Dunn, Secretary of State candidate, speaks at Solar Gard Window Films in San Diego on Friday, August 20, 2010. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.


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