Support for Rep. John Doolittle (R) has gone into a tailspin in his suburban Sacramento 4th district, with a prominent conservative activist announcing he could no longer back the Congressman and a popular Republican state legislator announcing his intention to run for the seat next year.
State Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R) told The Sacramento Bee that Doolittle has lost the support of voters in the solidly Republican 4th district to the point where he is unelectable. Gaines, who launched an exploratory committee, is the first viable elected Republican to publicly express interest in ousting Doolittle.
“What I want the voters to know is that I’m putting the name forward. [I would be] a viable candidate. And I think change should occur,” Gaines told the Bee.
Meanwhile, conservative activist Ken Campbell also came out against Doolittle during the August recess. The former chairman of the Placer County Republican Party described Doolittle as a personal friend but said he could no longer ignore the fact that the Congressman is vulnerable to defeat by a Democrat in the majority Republican seat.
Much of Doolittle’s political troubles stem from a federal probe into he and his wife Julie’s connection to jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. However, Campbell attributed his decision to yank his support to a Club for Growth report that portrays Doolittle as a profligate spender of taxpayer dollars.
“I have been an avid John Doolittle supporter from the beginning, generously donating to his campaigns,” Campbell said in a written statement that was published late last month on Jon Fleischman’s Flash Report, a blog operated by the former executive director of the California Republican Party.
“Last election Congressman Doolittle barely squeaked [out] a victory over Democrat Charlie Brown,” Campbell continued. “When the Conservative 4th Congressional district sees and understands how Congressman Doolittle is spending their hard-earned tax dollars, Congressman Doolittle will certainly lose to Democrat Charlie Brown. In this 51 percent Republican, 29 percent Democrat district, there is no reason to be represented by a Democrat.”
Doolittle’s fundraising was anemic during the first two quarters of this year, with the Congressman banking $76,000 compared with Brown’s $269,000. Brown is scheduled to make his 2008 candidacy official during a Sept. 7 campaign swing through the district.
Meanwhile, Auburn City Councilman Mike Holmes (R) and counterterrorism consultant and Iraq War veteran Eric Egland (R) already have campaigns up and running, and they also hope to upend the nine-term incumbent Congressman should he choose to follow through with plans to seek another term.
Holmes challenged Doolittle in the 2006 GOP primary, taking just 33 percent of the vote. Egland, however, is a former Doolittle supporter and actually cut a television ad for the Congressman in the waning days of last year’s campaign.
— David M. Drucker