By Randy Bayne
The Bayne of Blog
In spite of a recent poll showing only 33% support for incumbent Congressman Dan Lungren, his campaign “is not convinced his candidate has anything to worry about.” Congo Dan is so sure he will win the 3rd Congressional District race that he missed the Asian Pacific Islanders Public Affairs Association (APAPA) forum over the weekend. The reason given was business in Washington, but Congo Dan did make it to a fund raiser in Murphys later that same day.
It was reported by supporters of Dr. Bill Durston, the Democratic challenger, that Congo Dan enticed people to the fund raiser with tickets to a Bonnie Raitt show at Ironstone Vineyards, writes Ben van der Meer.
Raitt, a well-known supporter of Democratic and left-wing causes, said at the concert that night that the Nov. 4 election was one of the most important in history – and told attendees to vote for Durston, an emergency room doctor and Democrat from Gold River, according to Durston’s campaign.
It is natural for an incumbent campaign to discount poll numbers – no matter how reputable the polling firm – that show the campaign tied with the challenger and I-don’t-know just one month out from election day with voting already started. Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates, who conducted the poll between October 3 and 4, is a very reputable firm, and Congo Dan should realize that these numbers indicate real attitudes or real voters. Of course, it is better for Dr. Durston that he doesn’t.
The national news and local impact of the mortgage and housing crisis, the stock market crash, and just the general financial situation should have incumbents across the board worried – particularly those who have sided with the Bush Administration over the years, as Congo Dan has done. Today, President Bush basically told Americans “don’t worry, be happy,” that everything will be fine. Easy advice when your headed out the door. The point, voter sentiment isn’t favoring incumbents. I don’t want to wander to far off my point, but wasn’t the so-called bailout supposed to fix everything?
When voters were told about Congo Dan’s vote for the $700 billion federal bailout of major financial institutions, and the contributions he has received from oil companies and banks, Durston’s numbers went up to 43 percent while Congo Dan’s remained steady at 34 percent.
Not only is Congo Dan in some stage of denial, but his campaign, if not he himself, is resorting to the kind of immature behavior indicative of an arrogant campaign believing it could not be defeated now facing the prospect of losing – avoidance and name calling. Congo Dan still refuses to face Dr. Durston in a one-on-one debate, and Lungren’s campaign is calling Dr. Durston a “knucklehead.” Here is the quote from Tim Clark, a campaign spokesman and strategist for Lungren, as recorded by Ben van der Meer.
“He’s doing what he needs to do to get attention, regardless of how true it is,” Clark said, before saying a second time, “Durston’s a knucklehead.”
Not bad on the big scale of things, but it does reveal just how much contempt Congo Dan has for Dr. Durston. Believe me, it is a lot. He won’t even talk to Dr. Durston and has avoided debating him this election cycle. In town hall meetings, Lungren avoids calling on Dr. Durston. The one time he did call on Dr. Durston, his was the only hand up for a comment and Lungren addressed him with utter comtempt and ridicule.
Admittedly, I started this campaign rather doubtful that Dr. Durston could prevail. But given recent events and the foolishness of the Lungren campaign, I may have to revise my earlier sentiments. Durston still has an uphill battle. There are a lot of undecided voters to convince, but they seem to be turning his way, and if Congo Dan stays on his present course they may just go Durston’s way. One thing is for certain – November 4 is going to be very interesting.