Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund (heart) Pete McCloskey

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund issued a press release congratulating Pete McCloskey on his decision to take on Richard Pombo in the Republican primary.  I figure it’s worth posting so that everyone can see the way Defends Action Fund is approaching the race.  (Note, this press release does not represent an official endorsement of McCloskey’s candidacy by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund).  


SACRAMENTO, CA – Rodger Schlickeisen, the president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, today applauded Pete McCloskey’s announcement that he will challenge Richard Pombo in the Republican primary race to represent California’s 11th Congressional District.

“Pete McCloskey is a real Republican. He is a man of great integrity who will put the well-being and interests of the people of the Central Valley and East Bay first,” said Schlickeisen.

“McCloskey represents the Republican Party in the great tradition of Teddy Roosevelt, who fought special interests, busted corrupt corporate trusts and began our nation’s commitment to conservation.

“Richard Pombo is quite a different kind of politician – representing the extremist and corrupt Tom DeLay wing of the Republican Party. Since being picked by DeLay to head the House Resources Committee, Pombo has blatantly demonstrated that he is in the pocket of large developers and corporate special interests. He has absurdly proposed selling off our national parks, drilling for oil off the coast of California and selling federal lands to developers and mining corporations.

“Nowhere is the contrast more stark than on the issue of the Endangered Species Act – a landmark conservation law that Pete McCloskey helped to enact and now Richard Pombo is working tirelessly to dismantle on behalf of his special interest cronies.

“Under Pete McCloskey our nation made a commitment to protect and preserve creatures like the American bald eagle, grizzly bear, gray wolf, manatee and the California condor for our children and future generations. In Richard Pombo we have seen a legislator intent on doing the bidding of corporate developers and abusing the legislative process to railroad through the House a bill that imperils thousands of endangered animals and their vital habitat.

“No statement about Pete McCloskey’s challenge to Richard Pombo can go without a contrast between their ethical behavior in office. Pete McCloskey served his country both in the Marines and in Congress with the utmost integrity and honor. Sadly, Mr. Pombo’s ethical conduct has been so questionable that the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, named him one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress. That was before the revelations that Pombo took contributions from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his clients; before news reports that Pombo interfered with a federal investigation on behalf of a Texas contributor; and before reports that Pombo’s top committee staff member likely violated House ethics rules by failing to report outside income.

Schlickeisen concluded by saying, “We applaud Pete McCloskey for joining the race and giving Republican voters of the 11th Congressional District a clear choice in California’s June 6 primary.”

For more information on Rep. Richard Pombo’s record, go to the Pombo website maintained by the Defenders Action Fund,


Blogger VPO said...

Central Valley seems to be like this: Let's say a country has a tyrant for a leader. Some in the country accept it, some don't like it, most learn to live with it. There is even some movement in the country to get rid of him. But then, some foreign country tries to invade to oust the tyrant, and everyone in the country is upset and pissed off and rallies behind their "fearless leader".

That is a bit of stretch, but something like that is going in the CV. They may not all like Pombo, but they are defensive against a carpetbagger or a big-DC enviro group or an East Bayer who wants to come in and change things there. That makes them rally around Pombo. Like, "he may be a jackass, but he is our jackass."

So it seems that unless there are enough voters outside CV (after all, 44% of the voters are not in CV) who reject Pombo or the CV'ers somehow embrace one of the candidates for some reason, there is little chance of winning this race.

I say this because now the D of W has branded McCloskey, already perceived as an outsider, with the support of "the enemy" -- a big enviro group. Thanks, guys!

Now, CV voters are not monolithic and the dynamic there is changing. I just cannot tell if there are enough voters frustrated enough with Pombo to oust him for an untested, little-known "newbie" or for an out-of-district old-timer like McCloskey. I get the sense they just don't want outsiders telling them what is good for them. And, actually, I can't blame them for that attitude.

Getting the D of W support is not actually all that positive, in terms of a winning strategy. As I heard it, there are about 1,000 D of W members in SJ County, but that contrasts with almost 200,000 voters there. I wonder if D of W support ends up being a positive, with the 1,000 members voting for McC, but maybe another 5,000 turned off by the big enviro approval. Very speculative figures, but I wonder how it really pans out, in the real world, come primary time.

Next, one pro-Pombo blog has asked what the candidates have offered as positive plans and goals for San Joaquin? Slamming Pombo, as much fun as that is, is not going to win this race. Pombo is ethically quite dirty, but not yet enough to be actually "tarnished". That would take an indictment, most likely, as that seems to be the benchmark for the mainstream press.

So better at this point to come out with real, positive proposals and actions for the community.

1:53 PM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting questions, VPO.

I agree with you. Getting the Defenders of Wildlife endorsement would not exactly be a plus in the district, especially since DW's 1000 activists (where does that number come from?) are likely to be active with or without it. The cost outweighs the benefit.

It will be interesting to see how the McCloskey vote impacts the Democratic primary. Will a large number of independent and decline-to-state voters peel off from McNerney or Filson and vote for McCloskey v. Pombo, thus changing the Dem primary outcome? The media dynamics would certainly indicate that this is a distinct reality.

I'd love to see some polling on this. If the McNerney and Filson campaigns are smart, they're already working on it...

2:31 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

I got the D of W membership number during the D of W public meeting in San Ramon a couple of weeks ago. It came from D of W staff, but now that I remember, I think they meant for all of the 11th District, so that puts even fewer D of W members in 11th District's share of SJ County.

3:10 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...

I have to disagree with the thrust of these comments regarding DWAF.

First, there's no way that McCloskey is going to be anything other than an unabashed environmentalist. He can find a good way of talking about the environment, a way that ties it to Teddy Roosevelt and not Julia Butterfly Hill, but he's not running away from his well-known, well-established stance as an environmentalist. I mean, McCloskey would be unable to run away from it. But more importantly. he seems to be firmly embracing the environment as an issue. And the specifics of the Endangered Species Act aside, most people in the district are to the left of Pombo on environmental issues. And the proof of this is that Pombo, for all of his animus towards environmental laws, still talks about the environment as if he is simply trying to fix them and make them work better.

Second, I think it's wrong to assume that the Defenders of Wildlife members and supporters will be equally active in this race no matter what publican stance Defends of Wildlife takes. There is a difference between potential and actual support. And there is a difference between members of the DWAF working with and for DWAF and members of DWAF working for and with groups whose aims align with DWAF. Just as people concerned with electoral politics don't always make the best environmentalists, environmentalists don't always make the best activists in an electoral context. Furthermore, DWAF can do something the candidates running against Pombo really cannot do: be unrelenting negative and critical of Pombo.

Third, DWAF can actually provide some cover for McCloskey or the Democrats running against Pombo. After all, McCloskey doesn't have to endorse everything DWAF says in order to enjoy the benefits of being endorsed by them.

Fourth, I think VPO's metaphor about the Central Valley really does not hold under scrutiny. The Central Valley as a whole has a regional identity, no doubt. And certainly the people who live and work in San Joaquin County have a different identity than those live and work in the Bay Area. But there are some things to keep in mind when looking at the situation: 1) San Joaquin County as a whole is a lot more Democratic than the portion of San Joaquin County in the district. So we need to recognize that the community, writ large, is not as conservative as one might think if all one saw was the district voter registration numbers. 2) A lot of people in San Joaquin County actually either originally came from or commute for work to the Bay Area. We can see this in the housing boom in San Joaquin County along with the increased congestion on the highways during the commute times. So it's not like the Bay Area is a foreign country, even metaphorically. 3) We need to remember that a lot (45%) of the district is in the Bay Area. Not only does that mean that a lot of the Bay Area activists working to oust Pombo are residents of the district, it also means that a lot of people who are not residents still have strong personal ties to people who are residents of the district. 4) Lastly, we need to remember that Pombo himself gets tremendous amounts of help from outside of the district.

3:26 PM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous Fiat Lux said...

Matt - you should develop that response into a main page post, should you decide to broach the topic again...

Responding to Anon's point about vote-switching and its impact on the Dem race, I just read this blurb from an in-depth Palo Alto Online article on McCloskey at

McCloskey readily accepts his "maverick" label.

"Sure. Just like John McCain. … Whenever you break away from the party line you're deemed a maverick. In the 1974 June primary, most Republicans thought Nixon was innocent. Wasn't until July and August that the whole world woke up to find out Nixon was indeed a crook." McCloskey, who had confronted Nixon, was saved from defeat in the June primary by about 2,000 Democrats who re-registered as Republicans to vote for him -- he won by about 800 votes, he recalled.

Same thing could happen between McNerney and Filson. But this time, McCloskey becomes the default kingmaker simply by siphoning votes from the Dem primary.

7:36 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

I wanted to address only the points made under "Fourth, I think VPO's metaphor about the Central Valley really does not hold under scrutiny." in Matt's post above:

1) The voters that matter to us are the ones in the 11th District. There are numbers of Dems in the CV who embrace values shared by Dems in the East Bay, but I am talking about a prevailing attitude among conservatives that says "No thank you" to Bay area influence. Most of the 11th District voters in SJ County are Republicans, so their particular attitudes are important to consider. Maybe the County as whole, when you include all of Stockton, is not overwhelmingly conservative, but the voters in the parts in the 11th District are. In fact, it was purposely gerrymandered that way.

2) I think that is speculation. Obviously, some of the new residents came from the Bay Area, but this is a self-selecting process, where the person going there has to be ready and willing to live in a more conservative area. I have known several people who moved out there, and it was a decision based on both the lower house pricing and the more conservative attitudes of the CV. They were not enamored with the Bay area's liberal streak, and moved there partially because of its more "traditional" bias. People who move there don't really want to be around a liberal, progressive community and prefer the small-town conservatism of Tracy. No one is forced to move there. I am sure some small number of "progressives" move there just to get a house, but I would wager it is a much more attractive deal to people already leaning right. Progressives would generally tough it out by finding some way to make it closer to the Bay area. If they were to move, it would be Santa Cruz or Sebastopol or Benicia -- any of the more liberal and artist-oriented communities around here, not to Tracy.

3) I was talking about the CV attitude, not the other parts of the district. That 45% outside the CV would have to vote almost entirely Democratic to counter the influence of the CV voters. The last elections were just about 50/50 in the non-CV parts of the 11th, so that would mean a huge shift to the Dem side. The point is that if CV can be brought closer to parity, then a candidate starts to have a chance.

4) What help Pombo gets elsewhere is irrelevant, since people perceive him as a Tracy hometown boy.

You have to look at it like this. Say redistricting put 45% of Rep. Barbara Lee's district over in Stockton and the rest where it is now in Oakland/Berkeley. Say a bunch of CV conservative activists decided they needed to oust her. They found a conservative Tracy candidate, let's say Pombo's brother. Now, how would Berkeley react? Then, what if the NRA endorsed him? Wouldn't that brand him as a bonafide far right-winger that nobody in Berkeley would vote for? That is the reverse of the case here, with Def of Wildlife endorsing candidates. To win in the scenario I just imagined, the person would have to be from Berkeley, or at least, if from Stockton, a major, well-known liberal who the Berkeley people would believe supported their values and causes.

Think about it from that perspective.

8:42 PM, January 25, 2006  

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