After some discussion, Matt has invited me to join this list as a contributing writer. I think that I represent a different viewpoint on this election and that having more ways to understand what is happening is goodness. You can click on my name to see a bit of my real background.
Yesterday, I responded to Matt's post: Things I Heard Last Night with a comment on the fact that you can not equate union support with Democratic support. There are some unions, such as the SEIU, for which this is probably true. There are others, in particular the building trade unions, where this is definitely not true. Building trade unions back many of Pombo's actions in Congress and some of them (Carpenters and Joiners for example) contribute directly to his campaign. In fact, there may even be a disconnect between the actions taken by union political committees and the way that their membership votes.
I think that defeating Pombo will take concerted action by a number of disparate groups that are not normally associated with each other. There must be some focus on those issues which will cause an otherwise conservative, normally Republican voter to feel that Pombo has broken faith with them so badly that they will be willing to seek different representation, whether by holding their nose and voting for a Democrat, or by actively supporting an alternative candidate in the Republican Primary.
I think that there are a number of issues on which this will come in to play and plan to post a series of entries here that define those issues and talk about how they might be exploited. I would like to start this off by giving recognition to the role that hunting and fishing groups had in the defeat of the Gibbons / Pombo mining law changes.
You find mining stories in unlikely publications, such as Trout Unlimited. Major newspapers in the West focused on the opposition that this bill got from the "hook and bullet crowd". According to the December 14, 2005 LA Times:
On Tuesday, a coalition of more than two dozen hunting and fishing groups claiming to represent 55 million hunters and fishermen sent a letter to Rep. Jim Nussle, an Iowa Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee, and Rep. John M. Spratt Jr., a South Carolina Democrat and the committee's ranking minority member, expressing "serious concerns."
"America's hunters and anglers depend upon public lands and waters … to pursue their tradition of hunting and fishing," the groups wrote. "This proposal to sell public land is being universally poorly received throughout the hunting and angling community."
A recent comment by Mike at PomboWatch defines this in plain terms. "I believe if the national hook and bullet organizations feel Pombo and Gibbons are going to attempt another stealth move like the mining bill they will attack him first."
We know that Pombo and Gibbons plan to bring this back next year. It fits the way that they have always operated. Pombo is a true ideologue and he does not accept defeat. Once something becomes a part of his "program" it is brought back at every single opportunity. You can never say that you beat him on one thing and turn your attention elsewhere, because as soon as you do, like the Terminator, he will be back. In fact, the Resources Committee press releases on the mining bill state that they will bring it back again.
This really means that someone will have to track exactly what is going on. They will have to make sure that the editors of publications such as Trout Unlimited, Field and Stream and all of those outdoor magazines that seem to lay around in barber shops are kept aware of what is going on.
The Delta is an area that sees a lot of fishing. The Central Valley has always been an area where bird hunters congregate. The size and power of this constituency should not be overlooked. It is a niche and not one where the progressive crowd has much influence. If the objective is to separate some groups of Republicans from the Pombo Camp, this is one group that should be at the top of the list.