Saturday’s column by Fresno Bee political writer John Ellis chronicles a fundraising letter sent by the campaign of Congressman George Radanovich expressing concern about a potential Democrat challenger in 2006, T.J. Cox. The fundraising letter, which I also received, suggests that Mr.. Cox will spend $1 million of his own money to defeat Radanovich and that this will be matched by "ultra liberal" Nancy Pelosi, for a total of $2 million.
Now, let me tell you what is really going on here. One of the major casualties of redistricting, as you all know, is competitive elections. It seems that all of these incumbents are having trouble raising in their Districts, precisely because donors know how safe the Districts are. I, for example, don’t give to ANY legislative candidates seeking a safe seat unless that candidate is in a contested primary. So, in order to create a sense of urgency, fundraising letters have to invent potential threats to incumbents so donor will "spring into action" and give money. What makes this letter so funny is that Radanovich, in every poll I have seen, is easily the most popular Republican elected official in the Fresno area.
Democrat T. J. Cox could spend $10 million and Nancy Pelosi could spend another $10 million and Congressman Radanovich wouldn’t lose. Defeating incumbents in California is absolutely impossible. In essence, the Congressman’s fundraising letter is sort of a walking billboard FOR Proposition 77. When we have to invent threats to incumbents in order to raise money, our system is seriously, seriously flawed.