Saturday, March 18, 2006

Primer on Primaries

It seems to me that Say No To Pombo has become a discussion list for the Democratic Primary. That is all well and good, but it does not recognize that there are two chances to take Pombo out. The first comes in the Republican Primary. However, as we look at this election, we have to make sure that both primaries deliver the best result. There are many who think that a McNerney - McCloskey general election would be a true win-win for the district. They may be right.

So, I would like to change the focus of this discussion to the idea that what happens in the Republican Primary is perhaps more important than what happens in the Democratic Primary, except to died in the wool some colored (blue or yellow) dog Democrats. Were McCloskey to win the Republican Primary would we change the name of this blog to "Vote McCloskey Down"? I don't think so. Maybe even PomboWatch would go away, having fulfilled it's purpose.

So, the true question is one of how to make sure that this election provides two chances to vote Pombo Out? One way to do that is to make sure that McCloskey gets his full audience, rather than ignoring him.

McCloskey is the one veteran in this race who is raising the issue that Pombo has voted for sending more troops to Iraq and then has failed every single time to support delivering the medical and health care that our veterans need. The VFW has given him a zero rating in terms of his votes for the past two years. He even voted against an ammendment that would increase funding for prosthesis research to better aid those who come back from Iraq or Afghanistan missing a leg or an arm. According to Nick Juliano in the Tracy Press, McCloskey is taking this issue to every veterans organization in the district. He was talking to the VFW in Morgan Hill this week.

Where the hell was the Democratic who says that his being a veteran will make him a better candidate? It looks like Filson has baild out on veterans just like Pombo. If he is truly a vet, he should be taking the same issue as McCloskey, supporting the effort to get rid of Pombo. Meanwhile, all that Pombo can do is to say he is helping build a visitor center for the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. Pombo is offering image over substance. McCloskey called him on it. Go gettem Pete.

I think that I have just given you a clue in two races. One, that McCloskey knows how to win a battle. The other is should be a clue as to how to vote in the Democratic Primary. Both primaries are important. Let's not short change one while we play games with the other. Let's get both primaries out of the clubs and on to the streets. That is what it will take. Remember, Pombo's campaign manager, Wayne Johnson, is good enough to get Pombo elected the first time when the TV stations did not even have his name on the election results board. He is very good at what he does.


Blogger Matt said...


I'm not trying to ignore Pete McCloskey. I am just not as capable to comment upon the GOP primary as you are.

First of all, the audience is all wrong for me. If I do a rah rah McCloskey routine, I'm sure it's not going to go over well with GOP primary voters. Second of all, I don't know many Republicans, let alone many Republicans in the district. And I know even fewer who care about the Pombo race.

I can speak to the Democratic primary because I know, or know people who know, many of the key players. Not so with the GOP primary.

In any event, I completely welcome posts about Pete McCloskey. I think you are confusing what I do qua one of the authors of Say No to Pombo with what I want qua the editor of the site. As the manager of the blog, I'm very excited that you want to focus more attention on McCloskey. It's part of why I asked you to blog here. But you'll get a lot more about McCloskey out of me, and I suspect others, if you prime the pump by laying out the relevant info that not all of us have access to.

All I can say is that I look forward to your posts and hope they continue. And I think a lot of other readers would welcome more posts on McCloskey. That said, if you want to see more posts on McCloskey, the onus is upon you to write them yourself or to recruit more people to write them for you. I feel like my role as an author is to focus on the Democratic primary and your role is to supplement that with commentary on the GOP side of things or other issues that you feel need more attention.

In sum, I really hope you take away from this comment the genuine desire I have to see more McCloskey posts. I just feel incapable of writing them myself and I need, and appreciate, your help.

6:33 PM, March 18, 2006  
Blogger janinsanfran said...

McCloskey has long been used to carrying on fights with very long odds, something that any serious Democrat in Pombo-land would be wise to emulate.

7:15 PM, March 18, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

McCloskey's campaign is unfortunately a last-gasp effort by a pol who should have hung it up along time ago.

His age (78) is a major drawback, particularly since it will appear next to his name on the ballot. He also only "moved" into the district recently. Moreover, he's a relic of a previous era in American and California politics (i.e., when a Republican could actually win on the Peninsula).

Now he's running in a district split between the East Bay (Morgan Hill as well) and San Joaquin County--areas he did not represent during his stint in Congress. On top of that, he's trying to unseat an incumbent in the primary. The kicker is that he isn't raising any significant amounts of money for the race.

Bottom line: I would expect McCloskey to get no more that 15% of the vote in the primary.

9:54 PM, March 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um - did you look at the '04 primary returns???

Tom Benigno ran with no publicity and no money and received 12.5% of the vote in the GOP primary last time - I would hardly call that a vote for him, more likely a vote against Pombo.

So to expect McCloskey to do only marginally better is a poor assumption. Especially in light of all of the negative baggage that wasn't really brought to light yet.

11:28 PM, March 18, 2006  
Blogger Delta said...

Rick, you know that one way to handle the age fake issue is to take it head on. That is why McCloskey called attention to the fact that his mother-in-law made the posters displayed at his announcement press conference. That is the reason he ran in the mile race at the Ripon Almond Blossom Festival, where he won his age group.

What is more important is that he has gotten a lot of veterans toally upset with Pombo's voting in Congress, to the point that they are becoming activists.

What is more important is that he has gotten a lot of anglers to become interested in his candidacy, anglers who are upset with Pombo and the government's general lack of attention to conservation issues, upset with the fact that the Republican Party manipulated the Klamath River incident for political advantage and that there is a major prohibition on Salmon fishing this year. You may not think it much, but every group counts.

The key here is that Pete is bringing new groups into the contest in a way that only he can do it. While Filson, McNerney and Thomas have to contest for the core of the Democratic Party, Pete has the freedom to expand the size of the oppostion to Pombo. Whether or not he wins the primary, and that is still a long shot but is doable, this expansion of the base opposition to Pombo will be a great assistance to the overall objective of saying no to Pombo.

Pombo = Pigeon. May he join the Passenger Pigeons of America.

9:07 AM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

I differ with Rick on the McCloskey campaign. It is completely off the mark to portray his candidacy as a "last gasp" effort. What is Rick talking about? McCloskey is running a serious and hard-hitting campaign, and doing a far better job than the Dems at this point.

Here is one example: he wrote up and sent out a letter to 100 veteran groups in the area decrying Pombo's record on vets versus Pombo's bombast on how he supports the troops. The letter and accompanying documents were very clear and to the point and convincingly made the case.

That is one example of how McCloskey, a decorated Marine veteran, is reaching out and connecting with the voters of the district.

On the Dem side, we have Filson, another vet. Where is he on this? Why did he not take this tack?

Here's the crucial difference: McCloskey wrote that from his heart and his experience. He knows veterans who are in trouble and, as a fellow vet, is actually concerned about them. Imagine that. A pol who is a human and cares about people!

So, yes, the vet letter was a good political move. But it was also the right thing to do morally and ethically, to help the veterans get better support and care after their service to their country.

With the other candidates, we have Pombo bullshitting about vets, and Filson, who actually is a vet, not making any moves to help vets or to slam Pombo on his record on this. It is like I said about Filson earlier, there is no there there.

I could go on with anecdotal stories about McCloskey's barnstorming the district, connecting with voters and generating a lot of attention and focus on what Pombo is really up to. He is out campaigning every day, more vigorously than the Dems, from what I can see.

Any Dem, I would think, should be smiling ear-to-ear that McCloskey is in this race, because he is softening Pombo up for the general election. McCloskey is not afraid to hit him hard and expose his weaknesses. It can only help that Pombo is in the news more and more and questions are raised about his ethics and policies.

And this attack is from a Republican. Maybe the Dems will learn something from this. I suspect, however, that Filson will commit to the middle-of-the-road muddledness that the DCCC recommends and, like Kerry in 2004, is afraid to run a hard-driving, no-holds-barred campaign. I don't see Filson running a strong campaign. If he wins the primary, it will be a very mediocre, let's not offend anyone, don't censure Bush campaign that will fail miserably because as one poster put it, "if he does not stand for something, he stands for nothing".

Again, there has to be a there there and with Filson, this has not appeared yet, if it ever will. By his statements and positions, I don't see it happening. He is too focused on keeping the "moderate" label.

With McCloskey there is most definitely a THERE there. He is a real solid candidate and your criticisms of him and dismissal of his campaign are completely unwarranted.

Now, as far as McCloskey's funding, tell us how you have such details. I, for one, have heard quite a different story on his fund-raising.

Let's see what happens in the next 2 1/2 months until the primary. It should be quite a show!

11:01 AM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Delta said...

Thanks, VPO. You said it better than I could. I talked to a Marine Mom today. Her son is just back from a trour in Iraq. She works on behalf of those in the trauma center at the VA hospital in Palo Alto. After hearing about McCloskey's taking on this issue, she is ready to vote pombo out. This issue resonates with people. It goes directly to our hears, reminds us of the best that we can be. There are a number of reasons that Pombo should go, but none of them show him for what he really is like this one does. If anyone wants McCloskey's veterans group package, I will ask Wes to post a copy on PomboWatch.

8:34 PM, March 19, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

Fair enough...McCloskey is courting veterans, participating in distance runs, and speaking to anglers. However, unless he can leverage this into significant free media coverage and six-figure fundraising, these activities won't overcome the inherent advantages Pombo has.

As for the 15% prediction, history has shown that primary challengers to incumbents typically siphon this percentage of votes off. It rarely matters who the candidate, so long as he or she is not the incumbent.

Still, the point remains that McCloskey lacks political and financial support, and without these things, he doesn't stand a chance.

10:21 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Politically, it is true, McCloskey does not have the mainstream Republicans backing him. They are sticking with Pombo, and, as I understand it, that is part of the code -- generally, you don't oppose an incumbent of your own party, unless you are truly disgusted with him (as any reasonable person should be with Pombo).

However, there is a growing movement in San Joaquin of "new Republicans". The best example is Attorney Mark Connolly, of Tracy, who led the successful fight to get Measure A, a slow-growth initiative, passed in Tracy. McCloskey wanted him to run against Pombo in this race, but Connolly felt he needed to spend his time defending Measure A from lawsuits (it is under attack from developers).

Also, Measure A goes against the growth plan Pombo helped devise for Tracy during his brief two-year stint on the Tracy City Council.

One interesting thing is that Connolly's wife is Celeste Garamendi, and her close relative Patti Garamendi is the one who lost to Pombo in his first election in 1992. (I am not quite sure what the exact relation is -- mother? aunt?)

So there is some friction there already, plus Connolly and others in the Republican party do not agree with Pombo's far right, anti-environmental positions or with his corrupt "pay-to-play" rackets that benefit himself and family.

I think you will see these more moderate and reasonable Republicans eventually take over from the far right ideologues such as Pombo in San Joaquin. McCloskey has their backing and some are active in the McCloskey campaign.

Another Republican supporting McCloskey is Amanda Matthews, daughter of Tracy Press publisher Cheri Mattews. (I might have her name wrong, but it is something like Amanda.)

So it may not be effective enough politically in this primary, but there is a growing movement on the San Joaquin side away from the darkness of Pombo and towards the light.

Financially, however, I think you are wrong as to how much McCloskey has raised. I don't know myself, but it could already be in the 6 figures. We have no way of knowing until the April report, but I would not assume it has been as small as you think.

8:15 AM, March 20, 2006  

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