The Machado Factor
POSTED BY SCOTT RESTIVO:
The big question looming over the 11th District race at this point is whether State Senator Mike Machado will jump in. The filing deadline is March 10, 2006, for the June 6 primary, and Machado really does not have to make a decision until then. So the Dems could be left waiting with bated breath until March to see if Machado joins or not.
There are several large factors that are in Machado's favor, and the Dems power-that-be see this and were encouraging him to run, and most likely still are:
1. He can raise serious money, such as the $5 million for his last senatorial election.
2. His name recognition is huge in San Joaquin.
3. He has strong credentials as a San Joaquin local.
4. He can run an aggressive, no-prisoners-taken campaign.
5. He can raise serious money, such as the $5 million for his last senatorial election.
6. He is an experienced politician, something the other candidates are not.
7. He is termed out of the Senate seat in 2008 anyway.
8. He wants to stay in politics.
9. He can raise serious money, such as the $5 million for his last senatorial election. (or did I say that already?)
All in all, he would, no question, be the strongest candidate against Pombo. If he sees that Pombo is vulnerable and that a Democrat could win this year, he will jump in, I think. He would not want another Dem to win this year and then have to run against that incumbent in a primary in 2008. Even if he starts in March, he has run campaigns before and would be able to ramp up very quickly.
And Pombo is looking more and more vulnerable. He has gone far off the deep-end with proposals to sell off parks and national lands, to gut the Endangered Species Act, and other grossly anti-environmental actions. Also, there are the DeLay/Abramoff corruption scandals swirling around him.
But most important, I think, is that he has not done a damn thing for the District. San Joaquin County has one of the lowest per capita rates of federal spending. For example, for Fiscal Year 2001, according to page 41 of this report, the county received $4328 per person versus a $6321 average across the US. With over half a million people in the county, and with Pombo in office for 14 years, that works out to a shortfall of over $15 billion dollars. Certainly, Pombo has not brought home the bacon. He is actually costing the District money every day he stays in office. Any serious candidate would point this out repeatedly, as much as the scandals and anti-environmentalism.
With Pombo off on ideologically driven campaigns to do such things as sell off the National Parks and restart commercial whaling, he has not passed any truly significant legislation that helps the District. Granted, he has done a few things here and there to get some federal money, but overall his perfomance has been pathetic, and has cost the District billions of dollars in lost federal spending.
Meanwhile, the District suffers from poverty worse than Appalachia, some of the worst air quality, poor schools, tainted water, transportation issues, etc., etc.
OK, this was not meant to be a rant against Pombo. I could go on and on with that. I think I have established that Pombo is vulnerable. Now back to Machado. Will he run or not? I think the smart thing for him is to see how the race is shaping up and what Dem contenders are out there and how their campaigns shape up. Right now, there is just Steve Filson and Jerry McNerney, and Machado would easily eclipse them. That would not even be a contest. Next, maybe more dirt will come out about Pombo's dealings with Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff and the Indian tribes and Marianas Islands. Also, by waiting, Machado has a chance to build behind the scenes support and see what kind of backing he can arrange before he actually declares.
So in many ways, it is Machado's game now. If he does join the race, many Dems will be excited and energized, not because Machado has great, progressive ideas, but because he is serious contender who could, with the right moves, beat Pombo in November. He could be seen as the white knight, riding in to rescue the District from another two years of Pombo.
More Info on Machado and the Senate districts:
Democrat Mike Machado is the State Senator for District 5, which encompasses a good part of San Joaquin, as well as extending north into Solano, Yolo, and Sacramento counties.
The rest of San Joaquin County, including Lodi, Escalon, and parts of Tracy are in District 14 and represented by
Senator Charles Poochigian, a Republican. District 14 is an odd-shaped creature with its main body in the Fresno area, then reaching over with a few juts into San Joaquin County.