Doolittle: `It’s good to be back’
For the first time in a decade, Republican Congressman John Doolittle is facing a challenger – and campaigning again in Nevada County.
Auburn physician Bill Kirby is challenging Doolittle for the GOP nomination for the 4th Congressional seat, which now includes Nevada County, thanks to redistricting.
The winner of the March 5 primary will face Democrat Mark Norberg, who is unopposed in the primary, and third-party candidates in the Nov. 5 general election.
“It is good to be back. I have not been back for some time,” Doolittle said Jan. 9, prior to a speech at the Nevada County Republican Central Committee.
Doolittle last represented Nevada County in the state Senate, a seat he won 1980 and held until he was elected to Congress in 1990.
“I can’t believe 10 years have passed,” he said.
One thing Doolittle worked on as state senator was getting an adit, or horizontal mine opening, built at Empire Mine State Historic Park as part of a planned underground mine tour.
He was surprised to learn that no money has been released from the state for the $2.5 million project, even though it was approved as a line item in Prop. 12, the $2 billion parks bond that California voters passed in 2001.
“I’ll have to dust off those files and see if we can push that. Maybe if there’s some federal funds … maybe that’d move them off dead center,” said Doolittle.
“I’m thinking that’s one thing I’d like to work to achieve for Nevada County. That would be fantastic to have happen here.”
Accomplishments Doolittle cites during his congressional tenure include support for cutting taxes, building up the military, and working for a balanced federal budget.
“I think Nevada County can benefit from the fact that I am a member of the House Appropriations Committee,” he added.
Doolittle’s name is practically synonymous with the proposed Auburn dam, which he continues to champion.
“It will be built, I predict. You just have to have a catastrophe first in order to trigger it,” such as a drought or major flood, he said.
Doolittle said it was the Auburn dam that prompted him to donate $50,000 through a political action committee on election day, March 7, 2000, to Placer County supervisorial candidate Bruce Kranz.
Friends of Placer County Communities, Inc., which strives to preserve Placer County’s rural quality, questioned the amount and timing of the donation.
But Doolittle makes no apologies.
“Elections are filled with surprise and drama,” he said. “I get involved in local races all the time.”
He supported Kranz because, “There’s a very, very concerted effort to take away the pro-dam majority on the Board of Supervisors, and I won’t allow that to happen.”
As for Doolittle’s GOP opponent, Bill Kirby, “I don’t dismiss the threat,” he said. “But I am prepared for any level of threat that it may (present).”
“He’s got all the typical Democrat positions,” Doolittle said of Kirby. “But supposedly, he’s a Republican.”
As for the makeup of the newly redrawn 4th Congressional District, Doolittle said, “The numbers I saw show (it’s) slightly more Republican and slightly more conservative” than the former district.
Doolittle was born in Glendale in 1950, and has lived in Southern California, the Bay Area and Sacramento. He is married to Julie Harlow and has a son and daughter.
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