Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hold the Phone

The following is a letter by Mat Atkins, an active member of the San Ramon Democratic Club, in response to this post by Babaloo. I am posting it as I received it, without alteration.

HOLD THE PHONE – a letter to Babaloo & Matt

Babaloo has taken some pretty serious swipes at the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club… without having all of the facts. Here is the sentence that I take umbrage with:

But the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club is chartered by the Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee and, as such, is an adjunct of the Democratic Party supposedly dedicated to building the party’s base throughout the county.

The SRVDC is IN FACT dedicated to building the party’s base. We are out registering Democratic voters almost every weekend. We are working now to expand this effort and register voters in more locations (currently we are at the Danville farmer’s market). The club has an active effort to grow roots deep into the precincts of San Ramon, Danville, and Alamo. Lately this effort has involved getting DEMOCRATS to register as permanent absentee voters. Democrats, not republicans and not even decline-to-state voters.

Our programs committee (chaired by none other than Peggy Rubin) sets up the speakers for our club meetings. We have recently had every Democratic candidate for congress from the 11th congressional district speak to our club. We have also heard from Margee Ensign. Our last meeting featured a speaker who helped pioneer the clean money effort in California. The meeting prior to that we had Christine Pelosi talk about her role as the Chair of the state Democratic Party platform committee. Her committee took input from our club’s own platform committee. Guess who led that effort, Peggy Rubin.

That is some of what our club and what Peggy has done to further the cause of the Democratic Party in our county. I am disappointed that you cast aspersions at the SRVDC for allowing other voices to be heard. Yes, we have invited Pete McCloskey to come speak to our club (along with Steve Thomas). The SRVDC has NOT asked anyone to re-register as a Decline-To-State voter. And as a club, we will not. Will Pete ask people to do that? Probably. Each of the Democratic candidates has asked people to support him when he has had the floor. So?

A little about my personal view; I will not be re-registering myself, but let me help you understand the logic. And I have to say it doesn’t strike me as “abandoning our party”. It’s called hedging your bets. My greatest desire in this race is that we elect a Democrat to represent this district. However, if we can’t have a Democrat wouldn’t McCloskey be better than Pombo. Why not try and help McCloskey get the nomination and then work to defeat him in November? Not providing support to one of the Democratic candidates in the primary is not the same as abandoning the party. We will have a single Democratic nominee in June whether I vote for one or not. And I’m pretty sure I will do whatever I can to help that nominee get elected in November.

Mat Atkins


Blogger Wes said...

I am glad to see someone take the time to lay the facts out. There is too much post e riposte, too often without fact. Even the veiled threat to take away the San Ramon Democratic Club's charter (in comments to babaloo's post) was silly. If the San Francisco Democrats did not pull the charter of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club for their working to support Green candidates including Matt Gonzales then I guess that the San Ramon Democratic Club is probably immune.

10:51 AM, April 06, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...


I did not read the comment in question as any sort of threat, and I still don't. But what the commenter said is accurate, the SRVDC can lose their charter if they back McCloskey.

Now I also have to say that I think you are misreading the decision that the SF Dems made with respect to the Harvey Milk Democratic Club. The HMDC is an institution in SF. It's a home to an incredibly important part of the SF Democratic Party and its members (past and present) are in very important SF Dem Party positions. This is really not the case with the SRVDC. Even as powerful as the HMDC is, 11 members of the SF County Dem Central Committee voted against re-chartering the club (versus 19 who voted for chartering). And this was for supporting a Green in a non-partisan race.

The SRVDC is really treading on dangerous ground here. It has neither the powerful patrons of the Harvey Milk Club nor the importance in county politics as the Harvey Milk Club, and supporting McCloskey's efforts to re-register Dems as DTS is a much more serious issue than supporting Gonzalez over Newsom.

11:28 AM, April 06, 2006  
Blogger Wes said...

But, Matt, you do acknowledge that this is a choice that can, and will be made by many Democrats. I cite the following from the Tracy Press.
$quot;I'd do anything for Pete McCloskey,” said volunteer Celeste Gore-Schreck, a first-cousin of former presidential candidate Al Gore. “He's my kind of politics. This is the only time I've ever stepped out of party lines."

12:08 PM, April 06, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...


I'm not sure exactly what you want me to acknowledge. Certainly, any Democrat is able to re-register and help McCloskey. And some may.

But I have yet to see any evidence that McCloskey has the type of mass movement he will need to win. The second article you site says that McCloskey had a dozen volunteers in Tracy on Saturday. To put things in perspective, Francine Busby's campaign manager told me six weeks ago that on an average day Busby had at least 75 volunteers working for them.

12:30 PM, April 06, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

Lost in all the recent brouhaha is the obvious reason for rejecting the myopic idea of re-registering as a DTS: McCloskey doesn't stand a chance of beating Pombo.

The super prime Republican base that will vote in June likes Pombo. He gives no quarter to anything associated with the Democrats or the left. His whole agenda is based solely around serving Republican interests. Pombo will likely get at least 80% of the vote in June, even with two challengers in the primary.

Moreover, McCloskey has little credibility with Republican voters. He's a carpetbagger, he's 78, and he's not raising money. The idea that Democrats should re-register as a DTS and vote for McCloskey so as to oust Pombo is delusionary, counterproductive, and will ultimately have no effect on the outcome of the June primary.

9:00 PM, April 06, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Well, Rick, as I have pointed out, McCloskey has raised at least $200K, which is probably more than McNerney and Filson combined (for the last quarter). In any case, it is likely the most of any candidate except Pombo (we won't know Filson's figures for another week, but he only did $100K in 4Q 2005).

Also, I don't think it is counterproductive to vote for McCloskey or to support his campaign. He is getting the anti-Pombo message out in ways the Dems can't even come close to. The press follows McCloskey around and prints his press releases. For better or worse, he is minor celebrity, and the media is eating it up in what is otherwise a dull race with the foregone conclusion that Pombo will beat the pants off any challenger in November. This race was ho-hum until McCloskey stepped in. He is now bring much more attention to it.

This will both expose Pombo more, softening him up for the November election. Also, attracting attention attracts money, so the Dems should see more cash coming in post-primary, as the McCloskey people will NOT vote for Pombo and will move over to supporting the Dem candidate.

How can you not see this as good? That is what myopic. Please think about this a bit more, without the partisan tinge to it. The Dem party will not only survive this, but grow stronger.

McCloskey's running will most certainly help the Dems.

Also, we can't now predict how many votes he will get. But the more he gets, the better for the Dem, as it will show Pombo's weakness and again open the spigot for donations to the Dem. If Pombo looks so powerful, no one can beat him, why would people bother giving money to an obvious lost cause? Of course, some will, but others would be driven away to other races with better chances of success.

So every vote Pete McCloskey gets is a vote against Pombo, and while not strictly a vote for the Dems, it will help the eventual Dem candidate.

In either case, a Dem will run -- one of them will win no matter if only two people vote in the Dem primary.

I think Matt the letter writer's comments (a different Matt than Matt the blogger) are well-taken and on the mark.

9:27 PM, April 06, 2006  
Blogger Wes said...

Let me jump in here to add some balance to the Pomboganda that Rick is putting out. I live in Morgan Hill. I have been calling Republicans. There are a lot of Republicans, adminttedly not the CRA types, but many, who are telling me "Thank God that someone is running against Pombo." Saturday AM, McCloskey is having a meet and greet session at the house of a man who was on the Morgan Hill Planning Commission, ran for City Council (though narrowly defeated) and when you look him on on Smart Voter you see him listed as "Republican (moderate)."

Now, I if we spent a little more time fighting Pombo and less on ourselves, it might just get the job done. I read the Manteca Bulletin, heart of Pombo Country, today, found his contributions to levee security blown way out of proportions and sent a Letter to the Editor calling them on it I think I said that Rancher Pombo was all hat and no cattle.

Let's get a bit more of this going. I will take at least one similar action every day from now until it is over. Take a pledge folks, do the same. The battle isn't here, it is the press and the public media.

9:39 PM, April 06, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

The information about McCloskey's fundraising comes from the most recent FEC filings, dated December 31, 2005 ( McCloskey is not listed as even filing a campaign disclosure form. We'll see what he reports later this month.

The notion that any criticism of a Democrat or Republican challenging Pombo is tantamount to supporting Pombo is nonsense. Critical thinking is a survival trait in politics. McCloskey doesn't stand a chance of knocking off Pombo for the reasons I've previously stated, and it's preferable to avoid misleading anyone into believing that he can.

On a broader note, a fundamental tenet of politics is the concept of picking one's battles carefully. Even with his baggage, Pombo has an overwhelming advantage as an incumbent. To give you an idea of what it takes to unseat an incumbent in a primary, the last California Congressman to be ousted in that manner was Gary Condit in 2002. Pombo is nowhere near as vulnerable as Condit was then.

Let's not kid ourselves. The only chance of unseating Pombo is in the General Election. This is why nominating a Democrat who has cross-partisan appeal is essential in the June election.

10:18 PM, April 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think Mr $0.02 is right: You are indeed Filson's campaign mgr. Just who might that "candidate that has cross-partisan appeal" be? Why Filson, of course. Right?

Hurling bricks at McCloskey and disparaging his campaign and his chance of winning - just as you do McNerney - is your style.

McCloskey reported zero in fundraising for the 12/31/05 report because he didn't announce his candidacy unti Jan sometime. So you trying to mislead everyone by making a big deal of this is very telling.

Also you and others make a big deal out of saying McCloskey has no viable strategy for winning, when what you really mean is that he hasn't shared his strategy with you or the readers of this blog to pick apart - or tip his hand (as Pombo's campaign is probably reading). Frankly, if I was McCloskey, I wouldn't share it with shill Dem partisans either!

Instead, I'd maybe do things like focus on winning (instead of whining) by taking advantage of my celebrity (as he seems to be doing), organizing Latinos (as he seems to be doing), organizing veterans (as he seems to be doing), enviros (as he seems to be doing), and even reaching out to Dems that are not partisan shills like you (as he seems to be doing).

Before you know it, those vote totals add up! And if one presumes what Mr vpo says is true regarding money, than he has more money to get his msg out than any of the Dems - so tell me again why Filson is going to win? Seems to me like McNerney has out-hustled him on the ground, and McCloskey has out-hustled him everywhere else, incl in the area of raising more money in less time, with the one exception that Filson has the support of big-name liberal Dem office holders. Hardly a plus in the 11th if you ask me.

11:56 PM, April 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we ought to consider why we got into this in the first place. We dont like the direction this country is going. so why back the "miss piggy" endoresed Filson when we can back someone who is truly liberal and can get funding and win. (no jerry, but we will invite you to the victory party)
McClosky is so much better than the candidates we stumbled over in the hash bar! anti war, anti Bush, anti Pombo, anti oil, anti imigratinon reform, etc..
lets grow some big one's and back the one we all know we like better than "Fil and Jerry". Pete's the man!

12:04 AM, April 14, 2006  

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