With the primary three weeks away, the Republican race in the third congressional district is attracting attention statewide.

GOP candidates hoping to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Doug Ose are "playing like little kids in the sandlot," said Ed Rich, chairman of the Calaveras Republican Central Committee.

His remarks came one week after state Sen. Rico Oller sent thousands of controversial mailers to District 3 residents. The district covers all of Alpine, Amador and Calaveras counties and portions of Sacramento and Solano counties.

Oller's four-page pamphlet accused former state attorney general Dan Lungren of supporting amnesty for illegal aliens when he was a Long Beach-area congressman in 1990.

A full page of the brochure depicts a masked terrorist wearing a turban. Superimposed on the turban is the image of Latino men apparently sneaking across the U.S. border.

In debates last week, Lungren shot back that the mailer was a "hit piece" and "racist," charges Oller's campaign manager, Steve Davey, called "nonsense."

"Those accusations are totally false," Davey said. "This has nothing to do with charges of bigotry or racism or stereotypes. It's shameful that Dan Lungren is trying to use those buzz words to cover up the fact that his record on covering our borders and immigration is horrible."

He said the mailer's purpose was to show the possibility of "terrorists entering this country through the Mexican border, because it's so porous."

Ose's sister, Mary Ose, is not being left out of the fracas.

Polls show her in third place behind Oller and Lungren, who are first and second respectively, the Associated Press reported.

Oller released a statement last week that said Mary Ose is running a "very quiet campaign and some are speculating that she is going to try to squeak by on name ID alone." The same statement called Lungren's campaign "lame."

Mary Ose responded by saying, "I don't think that sleazy campaigning is what people want."