Congressman unsure of future |

Congressman unsure of future

Dave Moller and Jeff Pelline
Sun News Service

ROSEVILLE ” After 17 years in Washington, John Doolittle said there’s no place like his home district.

Though he has no plans, Doolittle said he would like to return permanently to Northern California, where the weather is warmer and the pace is slower, among other things.

“I hope it will be California,” Doolittle said at a press briefing, though he’d like to wait a year for his teenage daughter to finish high school in northern Virginia.

The Doolittles also have a condo in Roseville and, as with many Californians, like to entertain guests in their backyard.

His district includes or is near some of the most beautiful country in California, including the Sierra foothills, Sierra, Donner Summit, Mount Lassen and Lake Tahoe – nine counties in all.

The congressman wasn’t always enamored with hanging out in his 4th Congressional District, however. Some locals criticized him for spending too much time “inside the beltway” in D.C.

Doolittle changed his tune, however, after narrowly beating challenger Charlie Brown in 2006 and losing to him in Nevada County.

The congressman visited The Union twice in the past year, for hours at a time, sounding upbeat but expressing frustration at the drawn-out lobbying investigation. He steadfastly declared his innocence.

During his visits, Doolittle provided some prescient political insights, such as accurately predicting the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales well before it occurred.

On one visit, his wife Julie joined him. She talked about her children and was eager to show off her new Apple iPhone. Doolittle also held weekly phone calls with reporters, hoping to be perceived as more accessible.

He also met with supporters in Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Despite his tenure, some county GOP leaders have expressed frustration at Doolittle’s poor judgment in getting tangled in a lobbying scandal. They also complained when he backpedaled on support of the Iraq war.

Some also think Thomas “Rico” Oller or another GOP candidate will have a better chance against Democrat Charlie Brown, not just in Nevada County but throughout the district.

“I think so; that’s the conventional wisdom,” said Bill Neuharth, chairman of the Nevada County Republican Central Committee. “A new face will have a better chance. That’s what it’s all about, keeping the seat.”

– 57 years old. Has been a congressman for 17 years.

– Represented the 4th Congressional District since 1993 and the 14th Congressional District from 1991 to 1992.

– Served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee from 2000 to 2007.

– During his first term, he gained fame as a member of the “gang of seven,” reformers who condemned the practice of check kiting by members of Congress.

– Doolittle and his wife, Julie, face an ongoing investigation into their ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. They deny any wrongdoing.

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