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District gets ready for high-profile campaign

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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The 4th District Republican congressional primary was a high-stakes, no-holds-barred bruiser that drew national attention. And with conservative Republican Tom McClintock emerging as his party’s standard-bearer to take on Democrat Charlie Brown, Placer County voters are in for more of the same as the two head toward the Nov. 4 election. With free-spending millionaire Republican candidate Doug Ose now defeated, McClintock takes on a Democratic Party flag-bearer with plenty of fight. Brown, a retired Air Force officer from Roseville, arrived from nowhere two years ago to come 3 percentage points away from upsetting long-time GOP Rep. John Doolittle. With Doolittle announcing he’ll step aside amidst a corruption probe that he has consistently contended is wrong and misguided, Brown and McClintock are vying for a rare, open seat in Congress. Just how open that seat is depends on which political supporter you talk with. McClintock is already trying to close that potential opening by making overtures to Ose supporters for solid Republican backing in a bid to best Brown and succeed Doolittle. And he’s setting the foundation of his platform on tenets he’s stuck to in more than 20 years in state government – fiscal and social conservatism. After his election win Tuesday, he described his victory as one for “everyone who believes government is too big and costs too much.” That means getting government “out of our pockets, away from our families and away from our faces,” he said. The Brown camp is starting out what promises to be a high-profile campaign focusing on McClintock’s status as a partisan politician who sees the race as an ideological fight for the Republican Party. In a message to supporters, Brown said that voters will have a clear choice next November between an ideologue and career politician and “someone who sees this race as an opportunity to unite all parties and solve problems for our country.” Brown spokesman Todd Stenhouse said the Democratic candidate enters the post-primary political landscape with about $500,000 in his campaign war chest. That would amount to a substantial funding head start on McClintock, whose most recent expenditure report showed him with little left from more than $1 million in campaign donations. But McClintock has built momentum with his win. As Tuesday’s election approached, his funding stream increased in velocity, with money coming in from outside the state. Music mogul Mike Curb of Tennessee donated $2,300. The NRA Political Victory Fund pitched in with $4,950. There were donations from Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Illinois and Kentucky. Between May 17 and the election, McClintock amassed $180,000 in late donations. The Placer County Republican Party donated $5,000 to McClintock on May 31, as Ose ramped up spending from his own personal real estate fortune. Ose would eventually loan his campaign $2.85 million, to go with $480,000 in donations. Bill George, spokesman for the Placer County Republican Party, said the primary and McClintock’s 15 point win demonstrated the candidate’s status as one of the most recognizable and “almost beloved figures” among conservatives. “His name and appeal transcends the district,” George said. “He can stand out as a beacon for the United States to return to the conservative values of the country.” Larry Dubois, president of the Placer County Democrats, said that with Republican voter registration dipping below the majority of Placer County voters for the first time since the early part of the decade and a growing percentage of decline-to-state voters, “Placer County is truly a swing county.” Republicans and independent voters are listening to Brown’s cross-party call for cohesiveness because they see “a regular guy, not a professional politician, who wants to make the county a better place to live,” Dubois said. “McClintock just wants to be a Republican,” Dubois said. “Charlie Brown is not that way and Placer County is ready for that change.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com, or leave a comment online at auburnjournal.com.