Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Handwriting on the Wall for Congressman Doolittle?

Roll Call reports that House Republican leaders are pushing California's John Doolittle to decide not to seek re-election:

With polls showing his presumed Democratic opponent beating him in 2008, embattled Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) is under pressure from House Republican leaders to retire at the end of this term.

House GOP leadership held its fire until some time after Labor Day, hoping Doolittle would see the political writing on the wall over the summer and voluntarily choose retirement. But with the Congressman digging in and promising to run for re-election, the leadership of his Conference — urged on by some rank-and-file Members — has held private discussions with Doolittle in an effort to convince him to retire.

Leadership “is telling him that the financial resources are not going to be there, at least from Members, and that he should step aside,” said one Republican House Member. “Everybody likes John. He’s a very likable guy, and there’s no animosity toward him whatsoever. But he’s not — rightly or wrongly — going to be able to win...”

A survey conducted over the summer by Republican pollster Chris Wilson found Brown with a 20-point lead over Doolittle, 51 percent to 31 percent. Doolittle’s favorable-to-unfavorable was 28 percent to 56 percent, with 50 percent of respondents saying the Congressman should either retire or resign. Only 33 percent of those polled thought Doolittle should run for re-election...

Some Republican Members believe Doolittle might do more than jeopardize what should be a safe GOP seat. They worry that the ongoing federal investigation into his dealings as a Congressman could drag down the party by reminding voters of the unethical behavior that helped defeat several of their colleagues last year.

“I went to leadership and said you have to send message, and they said they did,” a second Republican House Member said.

This individual added that Doolittle’s appeals for donations to his legal defense fund have gone largely unanswered while GOP Members wait to see if the Congressman will follow through with his pledge to run for re-election.

The Republicans interviewed for this story say the grumbling over Doolittle, both on Capitol Hill and in California, is likely to remain private until sometime in January.

Not only is there pressure from Capitol Hill for Mr. Doolittle to step aside, but one of his primary opponents has outraised him so far -- a very rare thing for a challenger:

Doolittle raised only $50,308.00 with more than half of that coming from PACs. He now has cash on hand of $37,995.10.

Compare that to Eric Egland.

With our help, Eric raised $79,000.00 and he now has cash on hand of $70,000.00!

Without help from DC Republicans, that's not likely to get a lot better for Doolittle.

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