McClintock ends the drama: He’s in
AUBURN – State Sen. Tom McClintock ended one of the worst-kept political secrets Tuesday by confirming his candidacy for the 4th District Congressional seat – thrilling many local Republicans but drawing criticism from his Democratic opponent, who labeled him a “carpetbagging politician.”
The announcement also threatened to create a division among Republicans between McClintock and former Congressman Doug Ose, in the June 3 primary race. Ose wasted no time throwing down the gauntlet, announcing Tuesday that he won the endorsement of former Gov. Pete Wilson.
Former state Sen. Thomas “Rico” Oller withdrew from the race after McClintock made his plans official.
McClintock, of Thousand Oaks, announced his intentions on the steps of the historic Placer County Courthouse with a throng of Republicans including Nevada County Supervisor Sue Horne, Yuba County Supervisor Dan Logue, state Assemblyman Rick Keene and state Sen. Sam Aanestad backing him.
“Tom McClintock is the most tried and true conservative in California,” Horne said, noting his laser-like focus on budget issues.
Horne endorsed McClintock last week, despite no official announcement. She is running for GOP nomination in the 3rd District state Assembly against Logue. The two would no doubt like McClintock’s endorsement in their own races, but he has been noncommittal.
McClintock touted his fiscal conservatism during a speech on the courthouse steps and said Republicans in Washington D.C. had let down the conservative cause leading to Democrats taking control of Congress in 2007.
“It’s true that a Republican Congress and the president abandoned the conservative Republican principles,” McClintock said.
Horne downplayed McClintock’s residency outside of the district, as did some other GOP supporters.
“The voters of the 4th district are concerned where people stand on the issues,” Horne said.
McClintock conceded it could be awkward to some people, but the district is not that foreign to him because he resided in Rocklin for three years in the 1990s. He also has a home in Elk Grove, in addition to his Thousand Oaks residence.
McClintock’s potential Democratic challenger Charlie Brown, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel from Roseville, criticized McClintock’s move as “a desperate attempt to hold onto partisan political power.”
“I’ll put my 35 years of battle-tested leadership up against a group of carpetbagging career politicians any day,” said Brown, who came close to defeating Doolittle in 2006 and never stopped campaigning. No other Democrat has filed to run.
Local Republican leaders said they thought McClintock’s views on issues were a better match for the district, which is a Republican stronghold, than Ose’s.
“We may be better off if Doug Ose drops out,” said Tom Hudson, Placer County Republican Central Committee chairman. A race between Ose, who considers himself a moderate, and McClintock could be divisive, he added.
Hudson said he disagrees with Ose on several issues, including partial birth abortion and Internet taxation, and is supporting McClintock.
“If (Ose were to drop out) it will be a very unifying race,” said Hudson.
A race between Brown and Ose would be a lot closer than if McClintock won the primary, Hudson said.
“The fact of the matter is, out of all the options, Tom most closely represents the values of the district,” said Assemblyman Keene. “He’s heard the concerns of the district and he reflects them well.”
McClintock has lost three bids for a statewide seat: for governor in 2003, for lieutenant governor in 2006 and for state controller in 2002.
In 2006, Congressman John Doolittle appeared to lose his grip on the district, losing Nevada County and winning the district by about 9,000 votes. Doolittle said earlier this year that he wouldn’t seek another term as the U.S. Justice Department continues to investigate his involvement with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
An internal party poll showed that Doolittle would beat Brown but it was very close, said Bill Neuharth, Nevada County Central Committee chairman.
“I wouldn’t be so careless as to say any Republican can win because it’s a Republican district,” Neuharth said. But he said he thought either Ose or McClintock could beat Brown in the general election.
“I think Tom McClintock has more name recognition and he’s a very good speaker,” said Neuharth, adding he wasn’t endorsing anyone in the race.
Republicans may need all the help they can get to tip the balance of power nationally in Congress if existing polling trends hold. Democrats hold a 231 to 198 advantage with six vacancies in the House of Representatives.
The atmosphere favors Democrats in California and nationwide, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, a nonprofit, independent polling organization based in San Francisco.
“A lot of that has to do with the frustration and dislike for President Bush,” DiCamillo said. “I would expect the Democrats would win a lot of (Congressional) races.”
Senior staff writer Dave Moller contributed to this story. To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4234.
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