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This is what it's come to.  A few months ago, Richard Pombo's seat (CA-11) was considered "safe".  Since then, he's worked his way up the various lists of vulnerable House Republicans.  This from Friday's Washington Post:
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.

Cross-posted to ePluribusMedia.

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.

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS

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
It's worth noting that 2001 is the first year it's been documented that Pombo did dirty little favors for Tom Delay.  It's said that Pombo got the House Resources Chair for two reasons: one for his party loyalty, and the other for his prowess at fundraising.  Looks like his prowess at fundraising might have as much to do with loyalty to Delay as with anything he did on his own.  

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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Pombo's got more money than he's... (27+ / 0-)

    ...ever had before.  Dunno if his wife & brother are still getting a quarter of it all.  But he doesn't need any tips, so leave them here.

  •  GRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jps, Cho, Dallasdoc

    Half my diary's text has vanished, and it won't let me edit to put it back in.

    <Pout!>

  •  Can't edit it. Can't delete it and repost either (0+ / 0-)

    The only way to see the rest of it is to follow the link to ePluribusMedia.  Something seems to be a wee bit broken here at Kos.  Sorry...

  •  DFA groups in northern CA organizing protests (7+ / 0-)

    DFA groups in northern California are organizing protests in both Sacramento and Stockton. Here's the link for Sacramento for Democracy's protest: Give Cheney / Doolittle a Sacramento UnWelcome. And I've seen plans for a protest in Stockton on the DFA-Norcal Yahoo group.

    A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

    by tmo on Sat May 20, 2006 at 11:47:04 PM PDT

  •  Here's the rest of it, as a comment (11+ / 0-)

    Inside Bay Area:

    Despite the forum format that precluded rebuttal, all three candidates used the occasion to lob attacks on their opponents, with Pombo often the target and audience members occasionally shouting messages out.


    "I never broke any rules in the House", Pombo said, one of several times he defended himself during the 1-1/2 hour session. "I never broke any laws. All I've done is fight for the things I believed in. And that is all I will continue to do."

    Then again, in Pombo's alternative universe, Delay didn't do anything wrong.  I like this, from the Modesto Bee, because it skips the bloviating in favor of the mood:

    Highly charged rhetoric drew applause, boos and cheers Monday as Rep. Richard Pombo and challenger Pete McCloskey finally faced off in one of the more closely watched congressional races in the state.

    ...

    McCloskey, a former congressman himself, said Pombo had failed to embody Republican values.

    ...

    The three men became increasingly barbed in their comments as the forum wore on. McCloskey and Benigno often ridiculed Pombo's positions and votes in Congress, which seemed to irritate Pombo.

    ...

    The men also sparred over immigration, with Pombo stressing the need to secure U.S. borders and saying he supported legislation passed in the House that strengthens penalties against illegal immigrants.

    ...

    Pombo said that if re-elected, he planned to stay the course, challenging interest groups and the status quo.

    Ha!!  These days, Pombo embodies interest groups and the status quo.  Perhaps he sees himself as an outsider because despite all his best efforts, he hasn't been able to shitcan the Endangered Species Act yet.


    Tracy Press, the event's host, described the main players' presence in the room:

    Pete McCloskey, a slight, 70-something veteran of three wars, mingled unseen with supporters as the school gymnasium filled to bursting around him.


    Rep. Richard Pombo, the effervescent 40-something incumbent with a goatee, entered grandly flanked by banner-waving supporters and a whooping fan base.



    Pombo does seem to enjoy the trappings of power.

    McCloskey turned to face Pombo, and he pointed his left index finger at him, when the first question about ethics came from the audience.  Pombo said the accusations against him are invented by special interest groups and spread through the Internet.

    I guess he's talking about "the blogs".  So, he's noticed? Perhaps someone in his office is probably reading this dairy, too.


    POMBO ON IRAQ


    From the Stockton Record, May 17:

    Pombo, who does not spend much time talking about Iraq, says he fully supports Bush on the war and agrees that withdrawing troops before Iraq can govern itself would be unwise.



    One of the 29% who still likes Bush!

    McCloskey said the war was an avoidable mistake that has made the United States hated throughout the world. He added that it has maimed or killed thousands of soldiers and damaged the economy.

    ...

    "The truth is we were attacked," [Pombo] said. "The president and Congress responded to that."

    Pombo, even now, is still doing that conflation thing.  "They attacked us."  Useless!!  As if 9/11 was about Saddam and Iraq.  (Rolling of eyes.)


    OTHER COMMENTERS ON THE RACE


    Indian Country Today, May 5 (might require minimal login):

    As chairman of the Resources Committee in the House, Pombo has a large presence in Indian affairs. ... That he may need help comes as a surprise.  He's in his seventh term from California's somewhat conservative 11th district, east of San Francisco, and drew more than 60 percent of the vote in his last campaign.


    But between now and then, business as usual in Washington has come to be seen in light of the Abramoff-inspired lobbying scandal. Pombo finds himself cast in a different, darker light than before, having received more from Abramoff and his client tribes than any other congressional member from California.

    ...

    The Abramoff cesspool is not the only ethical hot water that has gathered around Pombo. In naming him one of the 13 most corrupt lawmakers in Washington, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington charges him with abuse of incumbent mailing privileges, excessive payment to his wife and brother for work on his campaigns, and charges him with the backing of wind farm and freeway proposals that would enrich his family.

    Back to the WaPo article that opened this overlong diary:

    Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of a political newsletter, now has 42 Republican districts...on his list of competitive races. Last September, he had 26 competitive GOP districts... "That's a pretty significant increase," he said. "The national atmospherics are making long shots suddenly less long."

    ...

    Among House incumbents added to some GOP watch lists in recent months are veteran Reps. Nancy L. Johnson (Conn.), Deborah Pryce (Ohio), Charles Bass (N.H.), J.D. Hayworth (Ariz.) and Richard W. Pombo (Calif.).

    Roll Call May 11.

    "Congressman Pombo's standing with voters in California's 11th district has deteriorated significantly and on many levels," pollsters Been Tulchin and Katie Muehlenkamp wrote.  "In fact, his poll numbers are as bad, if not worse, than any of his colleagues in Congress and there is a very real possibility that he can can be defeated this November."


    Ed Patru, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Pombo would be fine come November, noting that he had more than $1 million in the bank, far more than either of the Democrats.

    Republicans, always about money.


    POMBO CRITICS CREATIVE


    From the Stockton Record March 25:

    Satirical signs, cartoons, billboards, Web sites - even a Halloween mask. Few members of Congress have sparked more creative opposition than Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy ... Pombo says he's collecting as much anti-Pombo paraphernalia as he can. After all, not every member of Congress gets this kind of attention.

    ...

    "He's just the gift that keeps on giving. Everything he does stirs people up," said Andrew Acosta, a Lodi native and Democratic political consultant.

    Have at it, folks!  This guy's gotta go!


  •  I is shocking to me that Pombo would (3+ / 0-)

    in the face of plumeting ratings for the President, all of the Administration's policies, and for Pombo himself, would have the audacity to say, he would keep on doing the same if he were reelected.  I simply cannot understand people who continue to do the same thing and expect different outcomes.  Does he not understand that it was Republican lies that caused people to vote for them originally.  Now that the voters are seeing that the President is a liar and that all of the wonderful sounding rhetoric was not true, they are turning away.  How stupid does he think the voters in his District are?  Unbelievable.

  •  It is amazing that with his record (3+ / 0-)

    he would offer to do nothing new. And continue to sing the same song like a broken record.

    Sometimes these people can't help but shoot themselves in the foot.

    All good for us.

    Throw Richard Pombo out of the House! Support Jerry McNerney

    by Naturegal on Sun May 21, 2006 at 04:30:00 AM PDT

  •  Before Stockton, Cheney in Sac with Doolittle... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, hiddengnostic

    ...His Lordship, VP Darth Cheney shall be at the Hyatt Regency Hotel tommorrow morning, Monday the 22nd of May, 11 am to indulge Rep. John Doolittle (R) CA-04 in a fund raising photo opp at $2000 a piece.  Hyatt is at 1209 L Street, protesters to gather nearby at 10 am. Don't forget 15% of every dollar raised will go to Julie Doolittle as the fundraising coordinator, please keep this poor woman employed >that's snark<because she can't afford daycare.</p>

    Doolittle needs Pombo on the Resources Committee to help him gut the Endangered Species Act and Critical Habitat provisions so he can flood that canyon more easily for his pet pork project, the Vampire (Auburn) Dam.

    Doolittle's challenger in the November elections will probably be Democrat Charlie Brown, this can only mean one thing...if the Veep is showing up for Doolittle, you're a strong candidate that's got somebody worried, because the other Republican in the primaries, Mike Holmes of Auburn, does not have much of a chance of defeating Doolittle. This means CA-04 is in play nationally.  

  •  His Rich PAC just gave (3+ / 0-)

    Doolittle a $5,000. donation. Also it will cost folks at Doolittle's shin dig with Cheney $2,000 for a picture, that is a $400 difference - could it be part of Julie Doolittle's 15% commission or a mark up?

    If you look at the Rich PAC you will see a large number of contributors from the CNMI. Rich PAC - CNMI/Abramoff/Wilkes related donors.

    Also look at what is popping up around Doolittle's district - wow.

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  •  The Committee of the Preservation of Capitalism (0+ / 0-)

    The Committee of the Preservation of Capitalism is Jim McCrery's (R-LA) PAC.

    McCrery is believed to be gay or bisexual according to old news reports but supports all the anti-gay legislation.  Here is a Blog that lays out the story about McCrery:

    The story on McCrery

    A right wingnut nevertheless!

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