Yes Charlie Brown ended up losing to John Doolittle on Tuesday night, but from all accounts no one was acting like this was a loss. You see, Charlie Brown went toe-to-toe with an eight term incumbent in a District that have a 16-point registration advantage to Republicans and Charlie Brown gave it everything he had and gave Doolittle all that he wanted. In the end, he lost just 49-46–beating Democratic registration by 13 points. That would have been an extremely astounding victory for Democrats.
Brown fought against Doolittle on issues of ethics, his ties to Abramoff, and his support for the war in Iraq. For his efforts, Brown a long-time veteran of the U.S. Airforce, his son serving four tours of duty in Iraq, had his patriotism questioned and his name linked to Sean Penn, Code Pink, and Cindy Sheehan.
The interesting thing to watch now will be–will Doolittle get indicted? If he does, Brown is in an excellent position to jump back in and take the Fourth District for the Democrats.
Meanwhile, there is no moral victory in the 11th District. The 11th District, has much more favorable numbers than the Fourth for Democrats, only a 5 to 6 point registration disadvantage. Still Democrats do not fare well in such districts. But don’t tell that to Jerry McNerney. McNerney had battled Pombo in 2004 only to lose. This time, he emerged with a solid victory.
McNerney was able to stay within 1200 votes in the more conservative San Joaquin county and make up the difference in the more liberal Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties.
This was a great victory for grass-roots politics. Pombo wants to try to get an overhaul of the Endangered Species Act through the lame-duck Congress, despite the fact that the environment was one of the issues that eventually helped to bring him down.
McNerney is a lesson for Democrats and a victory for people like Howard Dean who has created the 50-state program, trying to find Democrats who can go toe-to-toe with Republicans even in the most conservative of areas. Tuesday night seemed a vindication for those policies.
Now, McNerney is going to Congress and Pombo is going home. Charlie Brown did not win, but Doolittle is going back to Congress a humbled man, knowing that he barely survived one fight of his life, but he faces another–possible indictment of Abramoff money. We’ll watch closely these developments and see if Doolittle ends up going back to Northern California as well.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting