Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006: "The year Pombo fell"

The Record: The year Pombo fell

"2006 was unkind to former Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who found himself pounded relentlessly by national environmentalists and Bay Area Democrats.

His enemies took any chink in the congressman's armor - a family vacation, a staff connection to a disgraced lobbyist, an internal budget memo - and pounced hard.

By the June primary, Pombo found himself with a formidable opponent in carpetbagger Pete McCloskey, a Democrat in Republican clothing. McCloskey, 79, moved to Lodi just to run against Pombo.

He survived that campaign only to face the improbable Jerry McNerney, a wind-energy expert based in Pleasanton, in the Nov. 7 general election.

After 14 years in the House of Representatives, the powerful Pombo fell." (source)

Tracy Press: Top stories of 2006

"Controversial Tracy Congressman Richard Pombo lost the fight for his seat in the 11th Congressional District, after 14 years in power saw him elevated to chair the powerful House Resources Committee. His electoral collapse began when fellow Republican Pete McCloskey challenged Pombo for the Republican nomination.

After Pombo won the June primary, both McCloskey and fellow Republican challenger Tom Benigno of Tracy threw their support behind Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, a wind-energy consultant out of Pleasanton. Environmental groups also helped lead the campaign against Pombo.

The GOP did what it could to support the local congressman, including visits by President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. McNerney earned a visit for President Bill Clinton.

On Nov. 7, voters chose McNerney by a 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent margin. Just 43 percent of roughly 16,000 Tracy residents who voted sided with their hometown congressman." (source)

SMCountyTimes: Congress shift may benefit public land

"The open-space nonprofit, which paid a group of developers $30 million for the property four years ago, has been waiting just as long for Congress to appropriate the funds to buy the land and open it to the public. In spite of strong bipartisan support for the project, POST Executive Director Audrey Rust said Rep. Richard Pombo, the ousted Republican chairman of the powerful House Resources Committee, would not schedule a vote on the enabling legislation.

"Mr. Pombo didn't want any other federal land, period. In fact, what Mr. Pombo wanted to do was sell off federal lands," said Rust. "(Rep.) Nancy Pelosi is a big fan of this project, and since she'll be speaker of the house, we hope that will make a difference."" (source)

CCTimes: McNerney takes his new fame to work
Renown as Pombo vanquisher precedes the freshman Democrat

"When Rep.-elect Jerry McNerney strolled into the freshman orientation reception in a Washington, D.C., hotel earlier this month, heads turned.

And why not? Hes the most famous freshman in the upcoming 110th Congress.

McNerney even has a nickname, the dragon-slayer, in honor of his wildly unexpected triumph Nov. 7 over seven-term incumbent and powerful committee Chairman Republican Richard Pombo.

Someone walked up to me right away and said, Youre Jerry McNerney! They recognized me from my picture, said a slightly astounded McNerney. I thought, Wow, thats different.'" (source)

Grist: An environmental A to Z for 2006

"P is for Pombo, the Republican Rep. who worked to dismantle the Endangered Species Act, make deals with Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay, and sell off public lands -- and was dismissed from his conservative district by outraged voters." (source)

NYTimes: Pork No Longer Paves the Road to Re-election

"Until this year, Richard W. Pombo, the seven-term Republican congressman from the Central Valley, had never caused much fanfare about bringing home earmarks, the special local projects that circumvent the normal budgeting process. He was far better known for his work fighting environmental regulations.

All that changed in the closing months of this year’s surprisingly tight re-election campaign, when Mr. Pombo began trumpeting the money he had directed to his car-bound district — particularly $75 million for highway expansion, a gift for one of the most congested areas of California.

But it was not enough to persuade voters like Alex Aldenhuysen, a self-described independent, just out of the Navy and voting for the first time in two years. He said he was turned off by Mr. Pombo’s earmark talk. And in the end, Mr. Pombo lost his seat to a Democrat in one of the year’s most significant upsets." (source)

Alternet: Throw the Bums Out and Change Direction

"Jerry McNerney is a California alternative-energy entrepreneur, an engineer … and now a giant killer. With strong grassroots support from environmentalists and other progressives, McNerney had a stunning victory over Richard Pombo, the arrogant, corporate-hugging, antigovernment absolutist who was chair of the natural resources committee.

Vigorous antiestablishment campaigns like these have brought renewed progressive strength to Washington. More importantly, though, this year's campaigns have greatly strengthened our grassroots power, even in areas where our candidates didn't make it. We've added more and better-trained campaign activists, gained experience, spread the populist message where it has long been unheard, attracted new voters (including many who had dropped out or had considered themselves conservative), and created frameworks to sustain a continuing movement." (source)


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