House Republican campaign officials are taking steps to protect their vulnerable candidates with money, opposition research, negative television ads and campaign messages designed to fly below the worst of the national turbulence. But they know there is only so much they can do if Bush's approval rating stays below 40 percent and voters continue to say they want a change in direction.
Pombo's one of the ones needing special attention. He's getting help from the big guns in fundraising, even though he's already got 5-6 times the cash on hand as he spent in his first run in 1992, and ten times more than any candidate running against him. The latest entry in the contest is Dark Lord Cheney, who's traveling to Stockton, CA for a Pombo fundraiser this Monday, May 22.
Despite Cheney's approval ratings hovering just above single digits, he's still popular in certain mega-moneyed quarters. For this party, attendees must pay $500 to get in the door, and an additional $1600 to have their picture taken with the Veep. (But no one-on-one pix, all the grip-and-grin photo ops will be two-at-a-time.) Earlier this month, Speaker Dennis Hastert made a pilgrimage to Manteca, CA (pop. 40k) for a similar purpose. Pombo also recently attended a fundraiser in Houston, sponsored by oil industry lobbyists.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY, CA-11
From the Stockton (CA) Record:
Voters would be hard-pressed to find a starker choice than that between incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo and former Rep. Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey for the Republican nod in the 11th Congressional District.
The race between McCloskey, who co-sponsored the federal Endangered Species Act, and Pombo, who has spent his 14-year career trying to overhaul the law, has drawn national attention, because many political observers view the race as a microcosm of the national political picture.
Pombo is among former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's closest allies, has received thousands in campaign contributions from felonious lobbyist Jack Abramoff and, as House Resources Committee chairman, has pursued an aggressively pro-industry agenda that has made him the darling of the nation's oil, gas, mining and logging companies.
As for his indicted colleagues, DeLay and San Diego Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Pombo said he does not believe DeLay has done anything wrong - he gave DeLay's legal defense fund $10,000 - and said Cunningham got what he deserved.
Some are thinking that if McCloskey wins 30% of Republican votes in the primary, Pombo's in trouble.
Here's Pombo's annual totals for campaign fundraising throughout his entire Congressional career:
- 1992 - - 216,414
- 1993 - - 117,414
- 1994 - - 141,067
- 1995 - - 65,905
- 1996 - - 142,819
- 1997 - - 42,730
- 1998 - - 111,810
- 1999 - - 47,915
- 2000 - - 56,485
- 2001 - - 58,612
- 2002 - - 341,674
In 2003, shortly after ascending to the Resources Chair, Pombo set up his leadership PAC, called Rich PAC. It accepted its first donations on September 16, 2003: $887 from Susan Hirschmann, a partner in Williams & Jensen and $1,000 from Kevin Ring of Team Abramoff.
- 2003 - - 203,227 (campaign)
- 2003 - - 73,887 (PAC)
- 2004 - - 139,368 (campaign)
- 2004 - - 77,500 (PAC)
- 2005 - - 363,172 (campaign)
- 2005 - - 311,795 (PAC)
- 2006 - - 324,558 (campaign)
- 2006 - - 34,000 (PAC)
Note the 2006 figures are only for the first quarter, and don't include the Houston energy lobbyist, Hastert or Cheney fundraisers. I notice the current quarter includes $10,000 from an "entity" called The Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism, P.O. Box 65314, Washington, DC. I thought contributions that high weren't allowed under McCain-Feingold. Am I missing something?
Anyhow, it looks like the Republican money people really want to keep Pombo in office, and have increasingly opened their wallets towards that end. It would also seem that contributions to the PAC have been redirected to the campaign. I take this as a sign of vulnerability.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 9, 2006:
In Pombo's race, "the Democrats need to bring people in from the outside because they've got no clue what's going on in that district," said Wayne Johnson, a Pombo campaign spokesman. "We'll be fine with the volunteers from the district who we already have there."
Like Pombo's campaign doesn't depend on people who couldn't care less about his district? As if his his 7-figure campaign war chest was filled in the San Joaquin Valley...
SLIPPING IN THE POLLS
Earlier this month, Democratic pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner conducted a poll in the district for Defenders of Wildlife, and found Pombo polling behind each of the leading Democratic challengers: Steve Filson and Jerry McNerney. From Knight-Ridder News Service, May 11:
"These guys are nobodies, and they're beating him," Pollster Ben Turcin said. "That's unheard of. I'm not saying by any stretch of the imagination that this race is over, but [Pombo]'s in a deep hole.
"If Pombo loses, the voters will be throwing him out - not putting Democrats in," [Republican political oddsmaker Allan Hoffenbloom] said.
Pombo chairs Resources thanks to the patronage of Tom Delay, which enabled him to leapfrog over half a dozen more senior candidates for the post. Pombo has donated $10,000 to Delay's legal defense fund to date. Last November, the American Prospect reported:
To capitalize on that growing sentiment, the DCCC is working off a three-pronged recruitment plan. First, Emanuel explains, "Every open seat gets a challenger." With the recruitment season only half over, all the open slots in GOP-leaning districts are filled. Second, Emanuel says, "Every member of the Republican caucus who has an issue that's specific to them gets a challenger." That means that Ohio's Bob Ney and California's Richard Pombo, linked as they are to House scandals involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff and indicted former Majority Leader DeLay, will face well-funded opponents and months of interest-group ads softening them up. Pombo, according to one internal DCCC poll, garnered only a 32-percent re-elect rate.
Perhaps part of the reaction to last fall's public lands giveaway?
POMBO & McCLOSKEY DEBATE
After months of saying "No way!!", Pombo engaged in a primary debate against Republican challenger Pete McCloskey last week. McCloskey is a former Republican Congressman. Considering his resumé reminds us how much the Republican Party has changed over the last generation. He was a co-founder of Earth Day, and co-author of the Endangered Species Act, which Pombo is obsessed with eviscerating.
San Jose Mercury News:
The much-anticipated election showdown between incumbent GOP Rep. Richard Pombo and his primary opponent, former Peninsula congressman Pete McCloskey, delivered ample sparks Tuesday night in a packed elementary school gymnasium.
[McCloskey] opened his speech with a reminder of the Republican Party's 1994 "Contract With America," a pledge that GOP lawmakers -- including Pombo -- signed after voters tossed out corrupt Democratic politicians and Republicans took control of the House.
The contract called for a return to ethics, balanced budgets, limited government and a promise to serve only six terms.
"Pombo has reneged on all four points," McCloskey said.
Land of Enchantment on Sat May 20, 2006 at 10:52 PM PDT.