Doolittle in Deep Trouble

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A new flurry of charges and investigations into those with ties to Abramoff have come forward in recent weeks, spawned it seems by a federal effort to get Abramoff himself to talk. Prosecutors last month in Miami, Florida said that they were prepared to reduce Abramoff’s fraud sentence in exchange for him giving them the goods on a number of lawmakers who he had dealings with.

Roseville’s John Doolittle had his home in Virginia raided by the FBI a few weeks ago. They were looking for papers from Doolittle’s wife’s home consulting business that received payments from Abramoff.

Doolittle’s wife also drew tremendous scrutiny in the election last year when it came to light that Doolittle had hired her to be his fundraiser. The problem here is that she then took a normal fundraiser’s fee, meaning that Doolittle and his wife pocketed a portion of the money from fundraising, raising a number of unseemly specters that led him in January to promise to cease the practice.

All of this leads to our conundrum. Last fall, Charlie Brown a retired Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, took on Doolittle in a spirited and vicious campaign riding against public dissatisfaction with the war and the specter of corruption that Doolittle so aptly embodied. In the end, Brown fell just short losing by a mere 7,000 votes and holding the incumbent under 50% with a 49-46 loss.

Charlie Brown has already announced he will seek election again. However, California’s Fourth Congressional District is the most heavily Republican in the state. Had Doolittle resided in any other district in the state, he probably would have lost given his problems. A three point loss was an impressive showing.

However, last week, Doolittle announced he would temporarily step down from the power Appropriations committee in the House. This suggests that Doolittle is indeed in deep trouble. But it also leaves us with a tough conundrum.

In order for Charlie Brown to win, he almost certainly has to face Doolittle himself–a now wounded and likely ineffective representative. If Doolittle is forced to resign, a number of prominent and strong Republicans have already signaled they would move into the district and run. This is a district with a near 20 point Republican advantage in registration at 48-30. That would make for a near impossible race against someone not tarnished with the scandals of Doolittle. It does not seem likely that the war in Iraq would be enough even with the strong name recognition of Brown, to catapult him into office absent Doolittle’s presence as the Republican nominee.

Republicans are already lining up for the prospect of taking that seat. The Flash Report nine days ago came out with a list. One hot and heavy rumor is that Conservative and anti-tax mogul Tom McClintock would move up to the district and run. McClintock is currently a state Senator in the conservative parts of Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties. McClintock recently ran for the Lt. Governor against John Garamendi and surprisingly narrowly lost by a 49-45 margin to the veteran and respected lawmaker.

McClintock would be vulnerable on the carpet bagging charge, he would also be vulnerable to the general dissatisfaction of the Iraq war. The question would then be whether a Republican would have to take on the negative coattails of the Doolittle scandal. As we saw in a number of close races in the fall, it’s not clear that they would.

Thus it would appear that Charlie Brown’s best opportunity to win the congressional seat would be the face the wounded John Doolittle and likely short of an indictment against Doolittle himself, that may be the most likely scenario anyway.

For more information on Charlie Brown’s campaign, click here.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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28 thoughts on “Doolittle in Deep Trouble”

  1. Don Shor

    I don’t believe that any Democrat could win or hold that district against any other Republican than Doolittle. In fact, should Charlie win he would almost certainly be a one-term congressman. McClintock especially would be hard to beat, as he has a reputation for honesty and integrity along with rock-solid conservative credentials.

    Dem’s only hope there is a wounded Doolittle refusing to step down or retire.

  2. Don Shor

    I don’t believe that any Democrat could win or hold that district against any other Republican than Doolittle. In fact, should Charlie win he would almost certainly be a one-term congressman. McClintock especially would be hard to beat, as he has a reputation for honesty and integrity along with rock-solid conservative credentials.

    Dem’s only hope there is a wounded Doolittle refusing to step down or retire.

  3. Don Shor

    I don’t believe that any Democrat could win or hold that district against any other Republican than Doolittle. In fact, should Charlie win he would almost certainly be a one-term congressman. McClintock especially would be hard to beat, as he has a reputation for honesty and integrity along with rock-solid conservative credentials.

    Dem’s only hope there is a wounded Doolittle refusing to step down or retire.

  4. Don Shor

    I don’t believe that any Democrat could win or hold that district against any other Republican than Doolittle. In fact, should Charlie win he would almost certainly be a one-term congressman. McClintock especially would be hard to beat, as he has a reputation for honesty and integrity along with rock-solid conservative credentials.

    Dem’s only hope there is a wounded Doolittle refusing to step down or retire.

  5. Rich Rifkin

    “One hot and heavy rumor is that Conservative and anti-tax mogul Tom McClintock would move up to the district and run.”

    I don’t know much about the guy, but it would seem natural that Ted Gaines, who is the Republican Assemblyman from that region, would be a good fit. And if not Gaines, who is young and good-looking, then maybe old and less good-looking Dave Cox, the State Senator from that area, would run. I would think that a local elected Republican would have an edge in the primary.

    “I don’t believe that any Democrat could win or hold that district against any other Republican than Doolittle.”

    That may be true. However, I think that there may be some chance for a slightly greener Republican to win in the foothills. The smog up there has really gotten bad in the last 10 years. I’m rather sure that the wealthy folks who moved out of Sacramento to live a more rural lifestyle don’t want to breathe all that bad air. As well, in the Auburn-Grass Valley corridor, there are a lot of old hippy-types, most of whom would never vote for a Republican. However, if a Republican developed a reputation for fighting for a better environment in their area, the independents among them might support him/her in November, if not in the primaries.

  6. Rich Rifkin

    “One hot and heavy rumor is that Conservative and anti-tax mogul Tom McClintock would move up to the district and run.”

    I don’t know much about the guy, but it would seem natural that Ted Gaines, who is the Republican Assemblyman from that region, would be a good fit. And if not Gaines, who is young and good-looking, then maybe old and less good-looking Dave Cox, the State Senator from that area, would run. I would think that a local elected Republican would have an edge in the primary.

    “I don’t believe that any Democrat could win or hold that district against any other Republican than Doolittle.”

    That may be true. However, I think that there may be some chance for a slightly greener Republican to win in the foothills. The smog up there has really gotten bad in the last 10 years. I’m rather sure that the wealthy folks who moved out of Sacramento to live a more rural lifestyle don’t want to breathe all that bad air. As well, in the Auburn-Grass Valley corridor, there are a lot of old hippy-types, most of whom would never vote for a Republican. However, if a Republican developed a reputation for fighting for a better environment in their area, the independents among them might support him/her in November, if not in the primaries.

  7. Rich Rifkin

    “One hot and heavy rumor is that Conservative and anti-tax mogul Tom McClintock would move up to the district and run.”

    I don’t know much about the guy, but it would seem natural that Ted Gaines, who is the Republican Assemblyman from that region, would be a good fit. And if not Gaines, who is young and good-looking, then maybe old and less good-looking Dave Cox, the State Senator from that area, would run. I would think that a local elected Republican would have an edge in the primary.

    “I don’t believe that any Democrat could win or hold that district against any other Republican than Doolittle.”

    That may be true. However, I think that there may be some chance for a slightly greener Republican to win in the foothills. The smog up there has really gotten bad in the last 10 years. I’m rather sure that the wealthy folks who moved out of Sacramento to live a more rural lifestyle don’t want to breathe all that bad air. As well, in the Auburn-Grass Valley corridor, there are a lot of old hippy-types, most of whom would never vote for a Republican. However, if a Republican developed a reputation for fighting for a better environment in their area, the independents among them might support him/her in November, if not in the primaries.

  8. Rich Rifkin

    “One hot and heavy rumor is that Conservative and anti-tax mogul Tom McClintock would move up to the district and run.”

    I don’t know much about the guy, but it would seem natural that Ted Gaines, who is the Republican Assemblyman from that region, would be a good fit. And if not Gaines, who is young and good-looking, then maybe old and less good-looking Dave Cox, the State Senator from that area, would run. I would think that a local elected Republican would have an edge in the primary.

    “I don’t believe that any Democrat could win or hold that district against any other Republican than Doolittle.”

    That may be true. However, I think that there may be some chance for a slightly greener Republican to win in the foothills. The smog up there has really gotten bad in the last 10 years. I’m rather sure that the wealthy folks who moved out of Sacramento to live a more rural lifestyle don’t want to breathe all that bad air. As well, in the Auburn-Grass Valley corridor, there are a lot of old hippy-types, most of whom would never vote for a Republican. However, if a Republican developed a reputation for fighting for a better environment in their area, the independents among them might support him/her in November, if not in the primaries.

  9. its a short commute

    Gawd, if only Rexroad would move up there to run. He could vow to only represent Nevada City. Or maybe Colfax. Or John Munn! John Munn’s been a perennial candidate down here…why not run up there?

  10. its a short commute

    Gawd, if only Rexroad would move up there to run. He could vow to only represent Nevada City. Or maybe Colfax. Or John Munn! John Munn’s been a perennial candidate down here…why not run up there?

  11. its a short commute

    Gawd, if only Rexroad would move up there to run. He could vow to only represent Nevada City. Or maybe Colfax. Or John Munn! John Munn’s been a perennial candidate down here…why not run up there?

  12. its a short commute

    Gawd, if only Rexroad would move up there to run. He could vow to only represent Nevada City. Or maybe Colfax. Or John Munn! John Munn’s been a perennial candidate down here…why not run up there?

  13. 無名 - wu ming

    doolittle is toast. charlie might surprise folks if he does manage to win that seat, though, there are some pretty strong tensions within the republican party electorate that might end up leading to a long term realignment, should the right democrat be in place, and the republican in the general a corrupt fire-breather.

    as rifkin points out, the district is changing with all those new people moving in; while this could push things leftwards in the R primary, it could also tip the district into a swing seat of sorts, not unlike OH-2, where hackett ran very close to jean schmidt.

    as for carpetbagging republican congressmen, it’s not like that slowed lungren down at all in the 3rd. what really matters in the long run is what happens to CA-4 in the 2010 redistricting. if brown were to win it in ’08 and hold it in ’10, it wouldn’t be all that hard to move chico from the 2nd to the 4th, to shore it up for him.

  14. 無名 - wu ming

    doolittle is toast. charlie might surprise folks if he does manage to win that seat, though, there are some pretty strong tensions within the republican party electorate that might end up leading to a long term realignment, should the right democrat be in place, and the republican in the general a corrupt fire-breather.

    as rifkin points out, the district is changing with all those new people moving in; while this could push things leftwards in the R primary, it could also tip the district into a swing seat of sorts, not unlike OH-2, where hackett ran very close to jean schmidt.

    as for carpetbagging republican congressmen, it’s not like that slowed lungren down at all in the 3rd. what really matters in the long run is what happens to CA-4 in the 2010 redistricting. if brown were to win it in ’08 and hold it in ’10, it wouldn’t be all that hard to move chico from the 2nd to the 4th, to shore it up for him.

  15. 無名 - wu ming

    doolittle is toast. charlie might surprise folks if he does manage to win that seat, though, there are some pretty strong tensions within the republican party electorate that might end up leading to a long term realignment, should the right democrat be in place, and the republican in the general a corrupt fire-breather.

    as rifkin points out, the district is changing with all those new people moving in; while this could push things leftwards in the R primary, it could also tip the district into a swing seat of sorts, not unlike OH-2, where hackett ran very close to jean schmidt.

    as for carpetbagging republican congressmen, it’s not like that slowed lungren down at all in the 3rd. what really matters in the long run is what happens to CA-4 in the 2010 redistricting. if brown were to win it in ’08 and hold it in ’10, it wouldn’t be all that hard to move chico from the 2nd to the 4th, to shore it up for him.

  16. 無名 - wu ming

    doolittle is toast. charlie might surprise folks if he does manage to win that seat, though, there are some pretty strong tensions within the republican party electorate that might end up leading to a long term realignment, should the right democrat be in place, and the republican in the general a corrupt fire-breather.

    as rifkin points out, the district is changing with all those new people moving in; while this could push things leftwards in the R primary, it could also tip the district into a swing seat of sorts, not unlike OH-2, where hackett ran very close to jean schmidt.

    as for carpetbagging republican congressmen, it’s not like that slowed lungren down at all in the 3rd. what really matters in the long run is what happens to CA-4 in the 2010 redistricting. if brown were to win it in ’08 and hold it in ’10, it wouldn’t be all that hard to move chico from the 2nd to the 4th, to shore it up for him.

  17. Rich Rifkin

    “if brown were to win it in ’08 and hold it in ’10, it wouldn’t be all that hard to move chico from the 2nd to the 4th, to shore it up for him.”

    Hopefully our state gets some sense and passes a reform system for redistricting. It is terribly undemocratic, IMO, to “shore up” districts for incumbents of any stripe.

  18. Rich Rifkin

    “if brown were to win it in ’08 and hold it in ’10, it wouldn’t be all that hard to move chico from the 2nd to the 4th, to shore it up for him.”

    Hopefully our state gets some sense and passes a reform system for redistricting. It is terribly undemocratic, IMO, to “shore up” districts for incumbents of any stripe.

  19. Rich Rifkin

    “if brown were to win it in ’08 and hold it in ’10, it wouldn’t be all that hard to move chico from the 2nd to the 4th, to shore it up for him.”

    Hopefully our state gets some sense and passes a reform system for redistricting. It is terribly undemocratic, IMO, to “shore up” districts for incumbents of any stripe.

  20. Rich Rifkin

    “if brown were to win it in ’08 and hold it in ’10, it wouldn’t be all that hard to move chico from the 2nd to the 4th, to shore it up for him.”

    Hopefully our state gets some sense and passes a reform system for redistricting. It is terribly undemocratic, IMO, to “shore up” districts for incumbents of any stripe.

  21. 無名 - wu ming

    perhaps, but it’s as american as the house of representatives, ever since eldridge gerry’s massachusetts gerrymander. the real probem with CA’s current setup is that it made everything safe. when the courts drew the lines in ’90, things swung a lot more than today.

    not that i’m averse to a better redistricting setup, but if those are the rules that texas and everyone else plays by, it’s only reasonable to think about it in CA as well. until the rules change, you game within the ones you’ve got.

    there are lots of undemocratic aspects of our democracy. financing and the electoral college being the worst IMO. and then there are the reactionary types still calling for the reinstitution of non-popularly elected senators.

  22. 無名 - wu ming

    perhaps, but it’s as american as the house of representatives, ever since eldridge gerry’s massachusetts gerrymander. the real probem with CA’s current setup is that it made everything safe. when the courts drew the lines in ’90, things swung a lot more than today.

    not that i’m averse to a better redistricting setup, but if those are the rules that texas and everyone else plays by, it’s only reasonable to think about it in CA as well. until the rules change, you game within the ones you’ve got.

    there are lots of undemocratic aspects of our democracy. financing and the electoral college being the worst IMO. and then there are the reactionary types still calling for the reinstitution of non-popularly elected senators.

  23. 無名 - wu ming

    perhaps, but it’s as american as the house of representatives, ever since eldridge gerry’s massachusetts gerrymander. the real probem with CA’s current setup is that it made everything safe. when the courts drew the lines in ’90, things swung a lot more than today.

    not that i’m averse to a better redistricting setup, but if those are the rules that texas and everyone else plays by, it’s only reasonable to think about it in CA as well. until the rules change, you game within the ones you’ve got.

    there are lots of undemocratic aspects of our democracy. financing and the electoral college being the worst IMO. and then there are the reactionary types still calling for the reinstitution of non-popularly elected senators.

  24. 無名 - wu ming

    perhaps, but it’s as american as the house of representatives, ever since eldridge gerry’s massachusetts gerrymander. the real probem with CA’s current setup is that it made everything safe. when the courts drew the lines in ’90, things swung a lot more than today.

    not that i’m averse to a better redistricting setup, but if those are the rules that texas and everyone else plays by, it’s only reasonable to think about it in CA as well. until the rules change, you game within the ones you’ve got.

    there are lots of undemocratic aspects of our democracy. financing and the electoral college being the worst IMO. and then there are the reactionary types still calling for the reinstitution of non-popularly elected senators.

  25. Anonymous

    Don’t hold your breathe for there to be a substantial realignment of either Doolittle or Herger’s realingment after the 2010 census. (Also remember, the first elections involving those districts will be the 2012 primaries). Both districts are supported by a substantial geographic and social logic, and even if they’re imperfect, it’s better than a lot of the alternatives. Instead, I expect you’ll see pieces of Roseville and the surrounding areas carved out to deal with the growing population, but that the rest of the district will remain largely the same.

    As for the old hippies up there: Just remember that for every old hippy, there is also one traditional rural “conservative” and one Sac-area transplant who lives in a gated community with an artificial lake and drives an SUV. Go cruise around the outskirts of Grass Valley some time and check it out, pretty ugly. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be too confident about great gains in Dem voter registration in CA-04.

  26. Anonymous

    Don’t hold your breathe for there to be a substantial realignment of either Doolittle or Herger’s realingment after the 2010 census. (Also remember, the first elections involving those districts will be the 2012 primaries). Both districts are supported by a substantial geographic and social logic, and even if they’re imperfect, it’s better than a lot of the alternatives. Instead, I expect you’ll see pieces of Roseville and the surrounding areas carved out to deal with the growing population, but that the rest of the district will remain largely the same.

    As for the old hippies up there: Just remember that for every old hippy, there is also one traditional rural “conservative” and one Sac-area transplant who lives in a gated community with an artificial lake and drives an SUV. Go cruise around the outskirts of Grass Valley some time and check it out, pretty ugly. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be too confident about great gains in Dem voter registration in CA-04.

  27. Anonymous

    Don’t hold your breathe for there to be a substantial realignment of either Doolittle or Herger’s realingment after the 2010 census. (Also remember, the first elections involving those districts will be the 2012 primaries). Both districts are supported by a substantial geographic and social logic, and even if they’re imperfect, it’s better than a lot of the alternatives. Instead, I expect you’ll see pieces of Roseville and the surrounding areas carved out to deal with the growing population, but that the rest of the district will remain largely the same.

    As for the old hippies up there: Just remember that for every old hippy, there is also one traditional rural “conservative” and one Sac-area transplant who lives in a gated community with an artificial lake and drives an SUV. Go cruise around the outskirts of Grass Valley some time and check it out, pretty ugly. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be too confident about great gains in Dem voter registration in CA-04.

  28. Anonymous

    Don’t hold your breathe for there to be a substantial realignment of either Doolittle or Herger’s realingment after the 2010 census. (Also remember, the first elections involving those districts will be the 2012 primaries). Both districts are supported by a substantial geographic and social logic, and even if they’re imperfect, it’s better than a lot of the alternatives. Instead, I expect you’ll see pieces of Roseville and the surrounding areas carved out to deal with the growing population, but that the rest of the district will remain largely the same.

    As for the old hippies up there: Just remember that for every old hippy, there is also one traditional rural “conservative” and one Sac-area transplant who lives in a gated community with an artificial lake and drives an SUV. Go cruise around the outskirts of Grass Valley some time and check it out, pretty ugly. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be too confident about great gains in Dem voter registration in CA-04.

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