As you can see by my handle, I’m in Los Angeles, not Northern California, but the Bay Area was once my stomping grounds, and anyway, the race I’m talking about here is for U.S. Congress and what happens to Dick Pombo this November is every American’s business. So wherever you are in California, listen up: Sacramento is not our only priority this year.
While the state’s Democratic activist base in the Bay Area focuses on the Janet Reilly – Fiona Ma contest and Jerry Brown’s bid for Attorney General — important races, no question about it — right on down the 580 highway, not an hour outside of San Francisco, lies Congressional District 11. CD 11 is home to one of the most corrupt, anti-environmental right-wing Republicans in Congress, who has amassed a war chest of almost a million and a half bucks, well over a million of which is cash on hand. That’s in comparison to the DCCC-endorsed Democratic candidate, who has a little more than a tenth of that amount, and the candidate claiming the “grassroots” mantle, who would have a very difficult time competing for a State Assembly seat in his district with the money he currently has at his disposal.
That’s not to say that Pombo isn’t sweating it, however. Here’s how the San Francisco Chronicle described the Congressman’s changing district in an article from 2005:
Pombo, who is pictured on his House Web site wearing a cowboy hat, had no worries about the Bay Area’s liberal voters when he won a close and nasty battle in 1992. He was an old-school rancher whose slogan — “Central Valley Values” — struck a chord in Tracy and Stockton.
But two things have happened since then. A huge influx of priced-out Bay Area home buyers have flooded his district — Tracy’s population was 33,000 in 1990 and 74,000 in 2004 — and in 2001, the boundary lines were re-drawn. Pombo’s District 11 now stretches from Lodi to Morgan Hill and includes chunks of Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa counties in addition to San Joaquin County. It is a much different constituency.
Voters in parts of the district may not share the same values as a congressman who complains about endangered species protection, wants to drill for oil off the coast of California, favors a ban on abortion and is against gun control.
Some of them are pushing hard for a Democrat to beat him in next year’s election.
What the article doesn’t mention is that even outside of his district, when election seasons roll around, Bay Area Democratic activists have become a more mobile lot than they once were, a fact to which anyone who spent Election Day 2004 in Reno or Las Vegas can attest. And years and years of being shut out of power have taught a lot of Democrats the wisdom of looking beyond one’s immediate vicinity and focusing donations and activism on races of strategic importance — even ones that require a road trip to reach.
So once again, the stereotype maintains: the Republican candidate has the money, the Democratic candidate has the people. Or maybe not — so far, there’s been a lot of promising talk, but not a lot of action yet from grassroots activists in CD-11. This is a call to action to start walking the talk.
This brand spanking new website from the Action Caucus of the California Young Democrats is a great place to start:
As a matter of fact, you can start tomorrow, with Defenders of Wildlife:
Let’s show Pombo that “Central Valley Values” and Bay Area Values aren’t that different after all. They’re simply American Values, and they have nothing to do with the Jack Abramoff-loving, National Park-hating, twisted right-wing corruption of Dick Pombo.