CMR EXCLUSIVE: This Time It's For Real: Doolittle to Drop Out, Oller in for Congressional Seat
Embattled Congressman John Doolittle, the focus of a federal corruption probe, will announce that he will not seek re-election paving the way for former State Sen. Rico Oller for the 4th District Congressional seat, the California Majority Report has learned. The move, first noted back in November in the Stockton Record, could come as early as this week.
Oller served in the Assembly and for one-term in the Senate before narrowly losing a brutal GOP primary for the neighboring Third Congressional seat in 2004 against now-Congressman Dan Lungren and Mary Ose, sister of former Congressman Doug Ose. Oller is a slick ultra-right conservative cut from the same cloth as Doolittle. In his last race for Congress, Oller enjoyed strong support from religious conservatives, anti-tax zealots, and the NRA. Oller has considerable personal wealth to fund his campaign, and owns property in the 4th District.
But Oller's toughest GOP challenger may be Assemblymember/Insurance Agent Ted Gaines of Roseville, who was a two-term member of the Placer County Board of Supervisors before being elected to the legislature in 2006. Gaines has been an ineffective legislator, but, like Oller, has conservative credentials. His goal in the legislature, according to his website: "I look forward to working to make sure our state is not overrun by the liberals from San Francisco and Los Angeles."
Gaines has been mobilizing for a run. A "Draft Ted" website has been set up, and the media-savvy Gaines has been active in blaming environmentalists for last summer's Tahoe fires. It is not clear whether the politically ambitious Gaines would stick it out in a primary fight with Oller; both share many of the same allies, though Doolittle's faithful are likely to stick with Oller.
Two other lesser-known Republicans have already filed for the seat: Iraq veteran Eric Egland of Rocklin and former Auburn Mayor John Holmes. Both have run shoestring campaigns focused on Doolittle's scandal. However, Egland has just $79,746 in the bank and Holmes $18,341.
According to the latest FEC filings, Doolittle has a measly $37,995 cash on hand. Those numbers have caused many to speculate that Doolittle would not seek re-election, despite his insistence that he would not be driven from Congress because of charges about his questionable ethics.
The 4th CD has a 48-30 percent voter registration for Republicans. 2006 Democratic nominee Charlie Brown recently kicked off his campaign for the Democratic nomination. Brown came up short against Doolittle in 2006, losing by less than 7,800 votes. As of September 30, 2007, Brown had raised more than $506,114. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted the 4th CD as a takeover target in 2008, though Doolittle's demise will make it more difficult -- but certainly not impossible -- for Brown to capture the seat. Brown hasn't stopped running since his 2006 loss and has a strong grassroots base in this traditionally Republican stronghold.
Photo courtesy Turn Tahoe Blue.
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