McClintock’s move into 4th District race awaited | SierraSun.com

McClintock’s move into 4th District race awaited

Jeff Pelline
Sun News Service

Speculation is growing that state Senator Tom McClintock will announce a run for the Congressional seat being vacated by John Doolittle, perhaps as early as this week.

A “Draft Tom” for Congress effort was highly visible at this weekend’s California Republican Party convention in San Francisco, complete with campaign signs and stickers.

“Talk amongst attendees is that our conservative standard bearer could throw his hat in the ring as early as this week,” writes Meredith Turney, a CRA board member and legislative liaison for Capital Resource Family Impact who was in attendance, on Flashreport.org, a California Web blog. “Supporters are anxiously awaiting the announcement and the buzz at the convention is that we could soon be referring to Senator McClintock as Congressman McClintock.”

McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) has said he is considering a run for the 4th District seat held by Doolittle, who will not seek re-election in November. On Friday, a spokeswoman for McClintock in Sacramento reiterated that he was considering whether to enter the race but would not discuss the timing for a decision.

A poll commissioned by McClintock supporters, called the Moore Information poll, showed the state Senator from Thousand Oaks with the support of 43 percent of likely GOP primary voters, compared with 11 percent for ex-Rep. Doug Ose, 6 percent for former state Sen. Rico Oller and 36 percent undecided, according to the Roll Call newspaper. About 300 voters were surveyed in the Feb. 10-11 poll. Another such poll is expected soon.

The GOP challenger is Democrat Charlie Brown of Roseville, who narrowly lost to Doolittle two years ago and beat him in Nevada County. He is a formidable challenger, but McClintock is a widely recognized and respected conservative in the state.

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“If you look at the 4th district, Tom would be a natural fit,” a GOP insider told Roll Call. The National Republican Committee is eager to hold onto the GOP seat in an election year with the presidential race up for grabs and a Democratic-controlled Congress.

At this weekend’s convention, state GOP leaders rallied around John McCain’s presidential campaign and discussed Ebay chief executive Meg Whitman’s possible bid for governor in 2010, among other issues. The state GOP is attempting to build solidarity after a “bad year in 2006” and declining registration last year, Chairman Ron Nehring told The Los Angeles Times.

McClintock has lost three bids for a statewide seat: for governor in 2003, for lieutenant governor in 2006 and state controller in 2002.

The state senator doesn’t reside in the 4th District, either ” an issue that Brown is expected to drum home to voters.

On the other hand, the 4th District is solidly Republican, and voters here likely would rally around a strong conservative such as McClintock based on his ideology, not his residence. Ose and Oller don’t reside in the district, either.

Eric Egland, an Air Force reservist from Roseville who has announced his candidacy, said last week he would throw his support behind McClintock if he decides to run.

If McClintock entered the race, the battle of endorsements will no doubt heat up between county supervisors Sue Horne and Dan Logue for another closely watched campaign: the GOP slot in the 3rd District Assembly race for June. Logue has won endorsements from Keene and state Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley), while Horne is focusing on more grassroots endorsements from city, community and county leaders.

Doolittle announced on Jan. 10 that he wouldn’t seek re-election. The congressman is under federal investigation for his ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Doolittle denies any wrongdoing. He spent 17 years in Congress.

McClintock has spent 19 years in the state legislature. He and his wife have two children.