CA-04: John Doolittle vs. Charlie Brown

Let’s say it up front: The re-election of Rep. John Doolittle (R.-Calif.) would not even be discussed—much less highlighted in the national media—were it not for the fact that his wife once worked briefly for the Washington-based Greenberg-Traurig law firm at a time when the managing partner was one Jack Abramoff. The congressman’s wife left the firm after a brief period and no one has ever accused her of any wrongdoing.

Julia Doolittle also briefly did fund-raising work for the Capital Athletic Foundation, which was founded by lobbyist Abramoff (and whose board members included such luminaries as Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder).

But because of the brief and distant association between Abramoff and the congressman, media questions about Doolittle’s “Abramoff connection” abound in his re-election bid. Without explanation or elaboration, the Washington Post, for example, said that Doolittle’s “well-documented ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be an albatross.” Questions about Abramoff pop up repeatedly at Doolittle events and, to no one’s surprise, the left-wing Sacramento Bee weighed in with a strong endorsement of his opponent, Democrat Charlie Brown, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and Iraq war veteran.

At first glance, first-time candidate Brown seems to have a solid résumé and would appear to be very much in tune with the Placer County (Sacramento)-based 4th District that is home to more than 102,000 veterans.

But a closer look at the Democratic hopeful shows that he is light years removed from the district that gave George W. Bush 61% of its vote in ’04 and that has routinely given Doolittle (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 95%) 60% to 65% of the vote ever since 1990.

Brown says his first objective is to repeal the Bush tax cuts and that permission from Mexico should first be obtained before the congressionally approved fence along our Southern border is built. The Democratic nominee also salutes Murtha, Howard Dean, and Cindy Sheehan on Iraq: He opposed the war from the beginning and now demands a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Brown is also a card-carrying member of the ACLU, which has a particular involvement in Placer County: When a local elementary school posted a “God Bless America” sign after 9/11, the ACLU threatened to sue the Rocklin School District to force its removal. But local parents rallied, and the ACLU backed down.

Rumor, innuendo, and national dark clouds for Republicans have combined to put a stalwart conservative lawmaker in the “vulnerable” column. Conservatives must rally to him against Charlie Brown as a way to say: “You’re a good man, John Doolittle.”