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Democratic Group Launches Wildfire Ads Against California Congressman

Red to Blue CA is targeting GOP Rep. Tom McClintock in NorCal district

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., is a DCCC target this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., is a DCCC target this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic outside group is launching a new ad campaign against California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, accusing him of voting against wildfire assistance last year. The launch comes as the largest wildfire in the state’s history rages in northern California.

Red to Blue CA is coming out with mailers and a digital ad on Facebook linking the congressman from the largely rural 4th District to the wildfire. The group cites his December 2017 vote against an emergency spending bill that offered additional funds to communities recovering from hurricanes and wildfires. The measure did pass the House.

“Career politician Tom McClintock’s position on fire prevention is so bad he might as well be lighting the fires himself,” reads the mailer shared with Roll Call, which superimposes McClintock’s photo over an image of a matchbook.

Red to Blue CA is investing more than $175,000 in the campaign, which is the first to link the current wildfire to the midterms, according to the group’s spokesman Andrew Feldman. McClintock’s Democratic opponent, Jessica Morse, had criticized the congressman for voting against the spending bill, in a television ad in May.

Feldman dismissed a question about whether the group was concerned about politicizing the fires, which are still blazing in California. 

“No, I don’t think there’s any worry about that,” he said. “Red to Blue’s mission is to make sure that these congressmen are held accountable and the voters in the district understand how their congressman, and the work they’re doing or the lack of work they’re doing, is affecting them at home locally.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time that McClintock was the only California Republican to oppose the measure, while the conservative Club for Growth had opposed it because parts of the bill related to long-term, rather than emergency, spending.  

McClintock’s campaign consultant Chris Baker said in a statement, “As the sponsors of these ads know, the bills they referred to were omnibus spending bills in which only a tiny fraction of the funds went to fire fighting.”

“Congressman McClintock has been a leader in the House of efforts to aid forest fire prevention,” Baker said. “These efforts include authoring a law now credited by Forest Service officials with greatly expediting fuel reduction in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting McClintock, but his district is considered more of a reach than other GOP-held seats in the Golden State. President Donald Trump carried the 4th District by 14 points in 2016.

Morse has closed in on McClintock’s financial advantage, and outraised him in a few recent quarters. McClintock had $671,000 on hand at June 30, the end of the second quarter, while Morse had $536,000 in the bank. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

ICYMI: What Midterm Election? Trump Is Already Campaigning for 2020

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