Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Doolittle Faces GOP Opponents

The Sacramento Bee reports that Congressman John Doolittle will likely face primary opposition if he seeks re-election to the House next year:

Conservative Air Force reservist Eric Egland, who appeared in an ad for Doolittle last year, says he will run against the congressman in the June primary, and he's already raised $100,000.

Moderate Mike Holmes, the Auburn city councilman who received 33 percent of the primary vote against Doolittle last year, says he will try again.

Last week, Roseville Assemblyman Ted Gaines, another Republican politically aligned with Doolittle, all but announced his candidacy, saying the congressman has lost his "moral ability to lead."

Their collective message is that a federal investigation of Doolittle and his wife has become an insurmountable political obstacle.

If Doolittle doesn't make plans to retire, they say he will have to be defeated in a primary to prevent Democrat Charlie Brown from capturing the 4th Congressional District.

Doolittle will likely face pressure from House GOP colleagues to step aside if he is unable to resolve the apparent FBI investigation into his connections with Jack Abramoff:

Last November he defeated Brown -- who is expected to announce on Friday that he is running again -- by little more than 3 percentage points. Although news accounts citing anonymous sources had said the Justice Department was looking into Doolittle's connections with Abramoff, there was no public evidence at that time of an investigation.

Since then, the FBI searched his home and Doolittle disclosed that they acted after he rejected an offer by prosecutors to get him to plead guilty to a crime "I didn't commit."

Right now Doolittle may be encouraged by the lineup he faces in a primary. If he were facing one Republican opponent, it could be hard to prevail. But if the opposition divides, Doolittle would only need to win 30 or 40 percent to be renominated.

The report that Doolittle filed with the FEC shows that he raised over $100,000 in the second quarter of this year, and has just $75,000 in cash on hand. That's obviously far short of what he would need to run for re-election.

The Bee wrote about Doolittle's money woes in July:

Rep. John Doolittle's cachet with big Washington, D.C., campaign financiers seems to have plummeted in the aftermath of the FBI's April 13 raid on his Oakton, Va., house, and the eight-term Roseville Republican heads toward the 2008 election season with his campaign still in debt and receipts on the decline.

Meanwhile, the campaign of Democrat Charlie Brown, who came within 3 points of defeating Doolittle in November, is gaining steam. Brown's campaign raised almost twice as much as Doolittle's in the last three months and ended the six-month mark with a net cash balance of $251,000. Doolittle posted $32,250 in debts.

Doolittle's biggest expense during the three-month period was $50,000 in fundraising payments to Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, a company owned by his wife and operated out of the couple's house. It was the company's records that the FBI was after in the April raid, conducted as part of the Justice Department's ongoing investigation into the Doolittles' relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Even with the hefty campaign payments to Julie Doolittle's company, Sierra Dominion still was owed more than $76,000 in commissions from the 2006 race

This doesn't sound like a candidate with a strong chance of re-election. But it is still relatively early.

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