Things I Heard Last Night
Last night, after the speeches, there was a lot of time to socialize with the others who attended the meeting. I was surprised that a lot of the people I had hoped to see did not come, and the upshot of this is that the people I did know at the event were mostly McNerney supporters. Actually, to be clear, most of the people I knew were my friends who also happen to be McNerney supporters. So I think others looked at me sitting and talking with McNerney partisans before the meeting began and drew the understandable, but mistake, conclusion that I too was a McNerney partisan. Throughout the night I noticed a certain caginess when CA-11 came up, and a couple of people made reference to my “guy” or my “candidate” meaning McNerney. I think this made the night much less fruitful as a fact-finding mission than it might otherwise have been, although I did hear some interesting rumors, which will make up the bulk of this post .
Note, I did not speak to Steve Filson, however, whom I did not seek out and who did not seek me out either. Initially I was bothered by his speech, but as the evening wore on I saw him schmoozing with others and decided to let him make the most of it. But I did not run any of the following rumors or observations by Filson, so take them with a grain of salt.
- The first big thing I observed was that people were deeply unhappy with the fact that Margee Ensign leaving the race. Every former Ensign supporter I spoke to seemed unsure what to do now that she’s out of the race. On one hand it’s good that Ensign rallied a group of supporters who might have otherwise stayed less active in the race, but on the other hand her supporters do not have any clear direction now that she’s back out of the race. I do want to note that Ensign sent me an e-mail letting me know that she’s going to stay actively involved in this race, and in fact is going to speak at the Tracy Democratic Club this evening. I’m sure that will placate her supporters somewhat, although it still leaves them without a candidate.
- I overheard a member of the County Democratic Central Committee mention that she was looking for a “wealthy Democrat” to join the race, although I suspect she meant State Senator Mike Machado, who is probably the only A-list contender waiting in the wings. I had heard that some members of the Congressional delegation were putting pressure on Machado to run, but I can’t see why he’d bow to it now. He’s termed out in 2008, so he has time to build up a war chest to take on Pombo if Pombo stays in office. And even if a Democrat beat Pombo, the Democrat would still be very vulnerable to a primary challenge by Machado. But if Machado does enter this race, I expect the other Democrats would bow out. And I think some people are pinning their hopes on that.
- I heard that the Sierra Club is looking to enter the race in an anti-Pombo (as opposed to pro-Democrat) capacity. This is the second time I heard the rumor. The first time I heard the rumor was this weekend, and it was from someone who told me that it was supposed to be super hush hush. I figure if I heard about it again last night from a completely different source, it can’t be that big of a secret. In any event, my first source told me that this effort was being discussed by the National chapter, as the Mother Lode chapter of the Sierra Club (which is the chapter that covers San Joaquin County) was afraid of entering the race and pissing Pombo off. This got a big fat “WTF?!?” from me. Hopefully saner heads are prevailing and we’ll see a big push by environmentalists to rid the House of one Mr. Richard Pombo.
- Perhaps the most gossipy of the rumors I heard last night was that sometime last week Steve Filson told a crowd that either he would not or might not (my source wasn’t clear) support Pelosi as leader of the House Democrats. This really upset some people (including some important checkbook Democrats) who thought it was tasteless to take Pelosi’s money and show up at events with her and then say that you would not or might not support her. Before we head down the road we went down last week, let me just say that my source ended by telling me that Pelosi and Filson had “kissed and made up” already about this. Furthermore, I might not know exactly what Filson said, but I do know whatever he said upset some people that it’s not smart to upset. So I put this here as another small fracas started by Filson’s lack of tact.
- Also, I spoke for awhile with Pam Aguilar, who is the head of the Contra Costa Central Labor Council. I was trying to see what I could find out about their endorsement process, which she was nice enough to discuss with me. The short version is that nothing is happening yet, but I did get a lot of background about how the CLC operates in Contra Costa County. In any event, I made some comment about how I was impressed by how labor provides such a strong backbone of Democratic field operations and she made a comment about how she hopes more Democrats get involve in the effort. I told her that my take on things was that Democrats were very, very energetic to take on Pombo and that Labor would get a lot of help from the Democrats I knew. But Contra Costa Country CLC represents 90,000 union members, and I bet they have a much larger active volunteer base than Contra Costa CDCC.
- Lastly, I heard that some people have been getting robo-calls from a group opposed to Pombo. If I recall correctly, they said the calls were from American Family Voices, but I might be misremembering the name they gave me.