Doolittle feels safe in Republican country
Safe, Republican territory.
That’s what U.S. Rep. John Doolittle of Rocklin expects to hold onto Nov. 5 when he’ll face Democrat Mark Norberg of Roseville in the election to represent the newly drawn 4th Congressional District.
The huge district stretches along the northeast side of California from El Dorado County to the Oregon border, and includes all of Nevada County.
How Republican is it?
In the 2000 presidential election, 59 percent of the district’s voters supported George W. Bush, compared to 36 percent for Al Gore.
Norberg admits, “John is an overwhelming favorite … Unless John slips on a banana peel, he undoubtedly should be (the winner).”
Norberg is only putting up 30 campaign signs left over from his unsuccessful 2000 run against Doolittle. And he said his campaign has raised about $4,000 in cash, while “last time I checked, Doolittle had close to $900,000.”
But Norberg still hopes to get his message out.
“The words of the Democrats need to be gotten out. That’s why I run,” said the 75-year-old retired door-to-door encyclopedia sales manager.
Doolittle said, “I do take (Norberg) seriously” as an opponent. But “there’s a clear choice here.”
Doolittle said he favors smaller government and lower taxes, which is what the district’s voters want. Norberg, Doolittle said, seems to be a good, honest man, but is a “doctrinaire, liberal, Roosevelt-style Democrat.”
Doolittle confirmed he’s raised about $900,000, but he’s not spending it all on his own campaign. He said he’s contributed close to $300,000 to help fund Republican campaigns around the country.
Doolittle and Norberg are on opposite sides of the fence on such issues as abortion, school vouchers and the Auburn Dam.
Norberg said, “The issue which separates the two of us, first and foremost, is the issue of choice. I’m pro-choice.”
Doolittle said he is against abortion and is endorsed by the group Right to Life. “They’ve always endorsed me,” he said.
As for school vouchers, Doolittle said, “If I were presented a bill for school vouchers, I would vote for it.”
But he prefers the idea of charter schools.
“I think it’s a good way to go,” Doolittle said. “They’re more performance-based (than traditional public schools). For inner cities, they’re critical.”
Norberg said, “I’m an anti-voucher person. Every person who teaches tries to the best of their ability. Kids are not motivated to learn because they don’t have the impetus from home. One can lead a horse to water, but one can’t make the horse drink.”
To many, Doolittle’s name is synonymous with the Auburn Dam, a proposed 700-foot-high dam begun on the American River but never completed.
“The entire foundation for the dam is installed and about 95 percent of the land base is acquired,” said Doolittle.
He said building the dam would provide flood protection for the Sacramento area, store much-needed water, generate electricity, provide recreation, and help improve the environment by supplying water to the Bay Delta as needed.
“We will have (the dam). The only question is, will we have it before Sacramento floods, or before there’s a drought?”
Norberg is opposed to the dam. Ironically, he said, the Auburn Dam was initially a Democratic project, signed into being by President Lyndon Johnson.
Then, in 1975, a 5.7-magnitude Oroville-area earthquake halted construction on the proposed dam. The dam would have been built on an earthquake fault, Norberg said.
“The stake was driven into (the dam’s) heart by Ronald Reagan, a Republican president,” Norberg said, when Reagan required local communities to pay a larger share of the cost of dam projects.
The Libertarian Party candidate in the race is Allen Roberts, an Auburn real estate agent.
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