By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Republican Michael Halliwell of Cotati, making his fourth run for Congress, acknowledged Wednesday that he does not live in the new North Coast district.
Halliwell, a retired college professor, lives about two miles from the district’s eastern boundary, which runs along Highway 116 and Stony Point Road west of Cotati.
Halliwell said he has no plans to move and is qualified to run because the Constitution stipulates that a member of Congress must only reside within the state he or she represents.
“I will carry forth from here,” Halliwell said. “Most people who would vote for me won’t be concerned.”
But backers of Dan Roberts, the other Republican in the field of 12 candidates, may make residence an issue, Halliwell said.
In a recent interview, Roberts, a securities broker from Mill Valley, mentioned there were questions about Halliwell’s residency in the district but made no other comment about it.
Halliwell, 69, has run unsuccessfully for Congress in the past three elections, when the North Bay district covered Marin and southern Sonoma County.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s retirement after 20 years in office and redistricting set up a race for a vacant congressional seat in a coastal district now stretching from Marin to the Oregon border, but excluding Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Sonoma Valley.
In the Democrat-dominated district, experts say that Democrats are likely to finish first and second in the June 5 primary election and move on to the November general election under the state’s new top-two, open primary system.
Under the circumstances, Halliwell’s residency is not likely an issue, said Andy Merrifield, a Sonoma State University political science professor.
“I am not sure how important it is in the current Second District because it doesn’t seem realistic that any Republican can win,” Merrifield said. “This is a distinction without much difference, it appears.”
Democrats account for 50 percent of registered voters in the district, compared with 23 percent who are Republicans.
Halliwell, a Sonoma County resident since 2004, rejected the idea that he could be considered a carpetbagger.
“A carpetbagger is somebody who comes in from somewhere else,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.