Report from VPO:
Well, what a day it was! Spring was in the air, the sky was blue, the grass was green. Fresh winds were blowing, ahd the mood at the Stockton Earth Day Festival today was vibrant, upbeat and positive. There were many booths, with T-shirts, and renewable energy displays, and paintings, arts and crafts, music, and good food. And of course, the festival brought the pols out, with two of the candidates having tables and one walking around taking in the sights. If anything, the festival proved that the "grassroots" in the 11th District are active, working hard, and determined to beat Pombo in this election cycle.
Republican Pete McCloskey was there, with his "not-paid-for-by-your-tax-dollars" RV. His table saw a lot of activity and he spent his time there, as well as making several circuits of the festival to meet and greet. He also took time to talk to an investigative reporter from a national magazine.
Democrat Jerry McNerney's volunteers were there, notably Nicholas and a couple of others, and they also saw a flurry of activity (Jerry was not there). Of course, the good news of the day was that Jerry won the Democratic Pary endorsement, a major victory over his opponent, Steve Filson. That endorsement could well turn the tide in Jerry's favor and it is looking more and more likely that he could triumph June 6th.
Several people saw Steve Filson there, perusing the booths. He did not have a table or booth there, and he seemed to be attending the festival on his own. It must have been a conscious decision on his campaign's part not to set up a table. Whether that was due to staffing shortages, or other priorities, or whether Filson did not want to be associated with anything too green, it is hard to say. Perhaps one of his supporters or staff could lend some insight into the lack of Filson table at the festival. I looked for him to see what was up, but did not run into him.
During the festival, I had a chance to speak with many people, and not one was in favor of Pombo. Of course, this was an environmental event, which is not something his supporters would attend. But over 10,000 people did attend, many from the area, and I suspect not many of them are going to be Pombo voters.
All in all, it seems to me Pombo's support is weaker than the tally at the 2004 election indicates. I think the District is suffering from "Pombo fatigue", and if the right Dem can make a splash and present an agenda that motivates people, we could see Pombo's numbers whither. It seems the District is not so much FOR Pombo as much as they just have not been offered a compelling alternative yet.
Now, back to McCloskey. His campaign seems energized, active, and with a decent amount of funding. So that leaves room for speculation as to what he will do post-primary, if he loses to Pombo. Would he give it up at that point? Would he back the Dem energetically? Would he try an alternative, such as running as an Indepedent? It is really hard to say, and I have no idea, but I can see from today, that a lot of people are turned on and motivated by Pete, and that he attracts a lot of attention to this race. How best to use that post-primary, I am not smart enough politically to say. I can only say that I hope the energy and spirit of the McCloskey campaign continues until Pombo is defeated, one way or another.
Happy Earth Day!