Sunday, September 17, 2006



George Watson writes about local politics for the San Bernardino Sun, far and away the biggest and most influential newspaper in California's 41st CD. He called me a few days ago to talk about the Jerry Lewis v Louie Contreras (non-) campaign, having just read my story "Where Is Louie Contreras?" Watson said he wants to follow up with Contreras.

I told him I thought that would be a great idea and before he could ask me for Contreras' "secret phone number" (the one he explicitly directly me not to give out to anyone), I suggested to Watson that it would be an interesting part of the story to see how difficult it would be for the biggest newspaper in the district to track down the putative candidate for the alleged Democratic Party. I was relieved that he agreed it was a good angle. He didn't ask me for the number and said he'd call back.

Today Watson's story appeared in The Sun: Lewis Rival A Man With No Name. "Despite the enormity of unseating a popular congressman, Contreras until recently didn't have a working phone line to his campaign. He has promoted himself in the quietest, least noticeable of ways... Contreras plans to send out fliers promoting his candidacy. He also wants to buy newspaper and radio advertisements, along with banners on Web sites."

Oy... I wonder if these are the big surprises Louie alluded to last week when he explained that his chances of beating Lewis are 70%. I hope he has something more-- or at least has an inside line of how the FBI investigation is going.

Watson points out how this is the year-- with the exposure of the Republican Culture of Corruption and with Lewis' criminal empire collapsing on his head-- a strong and effective Democrat could be elected in the 41st CD. Rahm Emanuel was too busy fighting anti-war progressives like Jerry McNerney, Jan Schneider, Christine Cegelis, John Hall and others to have bothered looking at this race. The California Democratic Party, having taken part in the gerrymandered trade-offs that created this "safe red seat," also ignored the opportunity that was so obvious to anyone paying even a modicum of attention.

Whether Jerry Lewis bought off Contreras or not-- and Contreras assured me he did not-- it doesn't look like Lewis has anything to worry about from Louie or the Democrats. "Even though the investigation into Lewis could help the upstart, Contreras has no plans to touch it," explains Watson. 'I don't believe in doing that,' Contreras said. 'I don't want to run a campaign that's throwing rocks. I want to run a campaign on what I do.' Bob Mulholland, a campaign adviser for the California State Democratic Committee, praised Contreras for his stance... As ethical as Contreras' stance may be, some might see it as naive in a political environment that repeatedly rewards politicians who use negativity to attack their opponents. Some of that may come from a lack of experience on the issues. When asked about his sentiments on earmarks, Contreras said, 'That's a touchy issue. It's something that I'm not really for. But it's something that I don't know a lot about.' Contreras added that he expected those types of issues would be addressed and explained once he won the race and showed up for work in Washington. [Thank you, Rahm Emanuel. All the suckers who buy Emanuel's barrage of propaganda and self-promotion about what a "great" job he's done as DCCC head, ought to re-read that last sentence.] Regardless of how others see it, Contreras is optimistic about his chances of upending one of the nation's most powerful and popular politicians. 'I figure we have a 60 percent chance of winning it,' Contreras said. Apparently, his faith in his chance at victory is waning. Earlier, he told Klein that he believed he had a 70 percent shot to win."

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