Its very possible that Congressman John Doolittle will resign because of circumstances relating to the ethical (and maybe legal) charges being brought against him.
With ethical issues being at the forefront at the national level, Doolittle’s next challenge may be from the leadership in the Republican party — asking him to step aside for “the good of the party”. It is also possible that a federal judge and/or US attorney forces this congressional seat open in a less subtle manner.
For those not familiar with the seat, this North Eastern California Congressional District is solid GOP territory that stretches from the Sacramento suburbs up to Lake Tahoe and all the way north to the Oregon border. The district has a 48% to 30% GOP registration advantage and Bush received 61% of the vote in 2004. If Democrat challenger Charlie Brown couldn’t win this district in the perfect storm last year, he sure wont win it in 2008 against a well qualified Republican nominee.
There is no shortage of qualified Republican elected officials living in this district that have to be thinking about a potential run for Congress — especially if it opens up to a special election. And I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of them would consider a primary run against Doolittle if he can survive the rest of the year.
The elected officials from the area that would formidable include Senator Dave Cox, Assemblyman Ted Gaines, and Assemblyman Roger Niello. Gaines represents the largest number of voters in the Congressional District but was just elected to the State Assembly so he might choose to wait it out. Cox considered running for the open Ose seat in 2004 but opted for the Senate Seat instead. This time he may go for it. With strong name identification and deep pockets, Niello would also be a top tier candidate.
Assemblymen Rick Keene and Doug LaMalfa have been preparing for a blood bath for the Aanestad Senate seat in 2010. An opening here however might give Keene a chance to avoid a fight with LaMalfa and allow him to turn his sights on the Congressional seat — preventing him from sitting out of office for two years.
Few people in Sacramento have been talking about Senator Sam Aanestad. Political observers have historically underestimated his abilities to win, but he keeps proving them wrong. He represents a big part of the district and would get a lot of professional support from his friends in the dental community.
An elected official that is rumored to be eyeing this seat is someone that represents an area more than 300 miles away. California conservative icon State Senator Tom McClintock is rumored to be considering a run here from his Sacramento home even though he represents a district that covers Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. McClintock is probably thinking that if Dan Lungren can re-invent himself as a Sacramento-area Congressman then he can too.
In 2006, then State Senator Rico Oller ran for the Ose seat. If business has been good and hunting has been bad – then we might see a conservative push by a guy that used to represent part of the area. He also has the resources to make him an early force.
Another candidate that would need to be considered is new Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler. Uhler had previously been on the Board but was recently appointed to fill the unexpired term of newly-elected Assemblyman Ted Gaines. Uhler probably has the inside track for an endorsement from the National Tax Limitations Committee where his father serves as President.
No list would be complete if you didn’t include the candidate that challenged Doolittle in the primary of 2006 — Auburn City Councilman Mike Holmes.
Add to the mix, this part of California has seen a huge influx of people from the Silicon Valley. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see a self-funding former CEO that would like to un-retire with a few terms in Congress. I would even put former Congressman Doug Ose’s name into the mix of potential folks that could run as well as Radio Talk Show Host Tom Sullivan, who flirted with the idea of running in the open Ose seat in 2004.
I’m sure there will be more to report on this Congressional District in the coming months and fellow Flashreport blogger Tab Berg might have some more names to add to the list of potential candidates. These Congressional seats don’t come open very often. For several of the folks above, this is the one shot they are going to have at Congress.
As Eminem says, "This opportunity comes once in a lifetime."
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