State Senator Steve Knight and former state senator Tony Strickland are vying to replace one of the state’s most influential congressmen, Howard “Buck” McKeon, in the 25th Congressional district.

Both republicans, Knight and Strickland offer a conservative message to potential voters as the 25th district slowly moves to the center. Strickland has been endorsed by McKeon who will retire at the end of his term.

Knight currently represents the 21st state senate district and wants to boost California’s ailing economy by attracting investments to spur job creation. Public safety is also at the top of his priorities. “Running against another republican is always a question of how you distinguish yourself,” said Knight, son of former republican state senator Pete Knight. He has criticized Strickland of late for being a “carpetbagger” (moving into a district specifically to run for office). “[Strickland] seems to be more worried about me than telling voters what he would do.”

Strickland said he has been a fighter for both the 25th district and conservative values in Washington. “In Congress, I plan to work for the constituents of the 25th district by leading the fight to reign in spending, eliminate government red tape to reduce the size of the government, increase individual liberty and to improve the quality of life for all Americans.”

The political landscape is changing in the 25th district. In 2012, McKeon won by less than 10 percent of the vote in a district that now has a 3.7 percent GOP edge. In the last year, democrats have slightly narrowed the registration gap by a tenth of a percent.

Both Strickland and Knight have the potential to divide the republican vote, so each is working hard to win over potential democratic and independent voters. Democrats and republicans each represent about 37 percent of the electorate (totaling 74 percent), with independents and others comprising the remaining 26 percent.