Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe...

That must be what Dana is thinking, as he contemplates his next run for Congress. It has been a very long time since he faced criticism from inside the Republican Party, as the comments from Mississippi blogger Conservative Belle laid out.

Her criticism was a mild one. It was an effort to point out just how much earmarks and their use as a campaign tool give a lie to the conservative rhetoric about controlling spending and lowering taxes. If you can not control the amount of pork that is shipped to your own district, what gives you the right to talk about controlling big government. Maybe this should have been levied at Alaska's Senator Stevens or Representative Don Young. Both abuse the system much more that Dana. But Dana is the one that opened his mouth and gave her a good target for her scorn.

Now Dana has more than an irate Mississippi Belle to worry about, he has opposition in the Republican Primary in his own district. According to the Daily Pilot, Ronald R. St.John has actually decided to challenge Rohrabacher for the Republican nomination. You can check the status of all party candidates here.

Now, I don't know much about St. John. Neither, apparently, do the folks at Red County blog where he is only a side comment in a post about Debbie Cook.

Am I beginning to see parallels between what happened to Richard Pombo in 2006 and what is happening to Rohrabacher now? Like Dana, Pombo had a safe district. Like Dana, Pombo had surprising opposition in the Republican Primary. Like Dana, Pombo had an opponent with a reasonable base. Will Dana have to actually dig into his bank account and do some real campaigning this time? It is too early to tell, but Red County bloggers found that the speed with which Debbie Cook gathered signatures on her nomination papers to be "impressive."

Here are some things to watch.
  • In CA-11, Jerry McNerney was able to pull in grassroot contributions from all over the country. The average contribution to his campaign was small, but he had a lot of them.
  • What will the environmental community do? McNerney had strong backing from national environmental organizations, so does Cook locally. I have not heard that any of the bid spenders (Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife) are willing yet to pour money into this campaign. It will probably take several positive polling results to make that happen.
  • Will Dana face more opposition from veterans? The war issue is a Republican strength but also a weakness. Treatment of veterans will make a difference. A Tom Lash issue now.
  • Will Dana run a smart campaign? Pombo ran a campaign from a position of over-confidence, doing all of the same old things he always did. But, the times had changed and many actions backfired. The times have changed even more now and that can not be good for doing the same old things in the same old way.
This race is beginning to have the feel that the Pombo race had in early 2006. All it needs is for Rohrabacher's opponents to start believing that they can win.

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