GOP assemblyman to challenge Doolittle | SierraSun.com

GOP assemblyman to challenge Doolittle

Erica Werner
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) ” GOP Assemblyman Ted Gaines of Roseville said Thursday he is forming an exploratory committee for a possible challenge to Republican Congressman John Doolittle of Rocklin.

Gaines becomes the first state legislator to announce a possible primary challenge against Doolittle. His announcement underscores growing cracks in Doolittle’s home-district support as the congressman faces scrutiny in a Capitol Hill influence-peddling scandal.

“There have been some issues that have been troubling with Congressman Doolittle and I think it’s very important that conservatives have a say in what happens with the 4th Congressional District. We don’t want to lose this seat,” Gaines said.

“We shouldn’t be letting people that are having moral and ethical challenges continue to remain in office without a challenge within the party ranks itself,” Gaines said.

Gaines said he hadn’t made a final decision on whether to run and didn’t know when he’d do so.

In a statement Doolittle, a nine-term incumbent, said he wasn’t worried.

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“After spending the last month talking to local voters I have seen strong support for my candidacy and a strong desire to focus on solving problems instead of plotting for political advantage,” Doolittle said.

“Ted Gaines has let political ambition and bad judgment convince him that he will rescue the Republican Party,” Doolittle said. “I will gladly place before the voters my record of over 30 years of service to the Republican Party to Ted Gaines’ less than one year.”

Doolittle already was facing two other primary opponents, Air Force reservist Eric Egland and Auburn City Councilman Mike Holmes.

On the Democratic side he’s facing a rematch against his 2006 opponent Charlie Brown. Doolittle won re-election by a dangerously close margin last year amid questions about his friendship with convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his wife’s work for his own campaigns and for Abramoff.

Once a powerful member of the GOP leadership, Doolittle relinquished his seat on the Appropriations Committee after the FBI raided his Virginia home in April looking for information about his wife’s fundraising and event-planning business.

Doolittle has had a strong political base in his far northern California district, but it’s starting to erode. Last week local papers reported that former Placer County Republican Party chairman Ken Campbell was withdrawing his support after Doolittle rated poorly on a survey by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth on lawmakers’ records on what the group considers wasteful spending.

Gaines is a former member of the Placer County Board of Supervisors who was elected to the Assembly last year.