Most conventional wisdom has Congressman Mike Thompson as one of two finalists for Secretary of the Interior in President-elect Obama’s new cabinet along with Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva. Grijalva is the son of migrants and an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s federal land policies.
The Oregonian argues that while hunting and fishing groups like Congressman Thompson environmentalists and other liberals are lining up against him.
“Thompson, whose district runs from the wine country of Napa Valley to the Oregon border, is favored by hunting and fishing groups that like the fact that he’s an avid sportsman. And the League of Conservation Voters gives him solid voting scores. In fact, Thompson won national publicity back in 2002 when he held a press conference in front of the Department of Interior with 500 pounds of fish killed by low waters in the Klamath River.”
Liberal netroots groups such as the Daily Kos are joining in opposition to Mike Thompson as the Oregonian Reported on Monday.
The Kos argued:
“Mike Thompson takes money from hunting lobbyists Safari Club International (whose members hunt rhinos, lions, and elephants) and won their Hunting Heritage and Legislator of the Year awards. In fact, no other house member took more money than Mike Thompson from SCI… oh, apart from Alaska’s Don Young.”
The Kos quotes from another local environmentalist blog:
“Mike Thompson, a vineyard owner (and therefore likely more sensitive to the needs of farming than of, say, endangered species), is pissing off local environmentalists:
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat said: “Thompson said the reduced river flow “wasn’t about salmon or water, it was about electoral votes in Oregon.”” The important political lesson to note here is that these farmers (and voters) were not in Mike Thompson’s district.
A real test of Mr. Thompson’s environmental credentials would be: is he willing to close down his vineyard and winery friends in his own district by no longer allowing them to suck water out of the rivers and aquifers? Ask the environmentalists who live on rivers like the Navarro about how much water is left for the Salmon once vineyards finish taking their sips. Ask environmentalists in Napa County about pesticides in ground water and runoff.”
A letter from 117 environmental groups strongly endorses for Congressman Raul Grijalva:
“We strongly believe that Congressman Grijalva’s background and record show him to be a leader ready for this challenge.
As Arizona’s congressional representative, Congressman Grijalva has shown a broad range of passion and expertise for conservation and management of public lands. He has highlighted the Bush administration’s attempts to undercut science in favor of industry interests and sought ways to work with agencies and environmental groups to better protect public lands. For this, Grijalva has gained respect in the environmental community for his clear and decisive positions on sometimes complicated issues.”
Despite this opposition, The Oregonian concludes that Mike Thompson is the favorite for the post.
“Still, Thompson certainly looks as if he is in line with Obama’s earlier cabinet appointees. He’s someone who has been able to reach across partisan lines and it doesn’t hurt that he’s gotten lots of backing from the powerful California congressional delegation. And lastly, Obama said during the campaign he wanted a sportsman in the job. “I think that having a head of the Department of Interior who doesn’t understand hunting and fishing would be a problem,” Obama told Field & Stream.”
A Thompson appointment would open up California’s First Congressional District, a safe Democratic seat. Assemblyman and former State Senator Wes Chesbro is said to be the favorite for the position if it opens up.
—David M. Greenwald reporting