Joe Baca-- Golfer... And Blue Dog
Baca, with the Golf Channel's Michael Breed, comes to life
This spring, avid golfers were furious at 4 holier-than-thou teabagger congressmen-- Justin Amash (R-MI), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Reid Ribble (R-WI) and Scott Rigell (R-VA)-- for voting against awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to Jack Nicklaus "in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf." The resolution passed anyway-- 373-4. An awful lot of congressmen (and women) just love golfing. So do presidents, vice presidents and, over on the dark side, lobbyists. Golf Digest keeps track:
Top-ranked among elected officials-- after considering reports from multiple sources and a shortage of posted rounds by him or his closest contenders-- is Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a widely acknowledged 2-handicapper. (Udall was the leading proponent of the novel bipartisan seating arrangement at this year's State of the Union address.) He earns the honor over Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). Yarmuth, the former publisher of Kentucky Golfer, has a +0.4 Index but says he's closer to a 3. Corker, who told us in 2008 he'd have a hard time playing to his then-4.7 Index, has improved to a 2.1— as noteworthy as Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) improving from a 14 in 2008 to a 7.5.
Although the U.S. Congress' freshman class of 2010 includes a wave of doctors, there are few golfers among them. The notable exception is ophthalmologist and Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has an 11.6 Index at his hometown Bowling Green Country Club. Best of the newbies is Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former federal prosecutor and circuit solicitor who previously played to a plus-1 but now says he's a 4.
When Blue America started running a drunken golfer campaign against John Boehner in 2010, not all Democrats were thrilled. Boehner was on the links over 100 times that year-- but so were more than a few Democrats with the same attitude about privilege and entitlement, including execrable California Blue Dog Joe Baca.
As the self designated “Working Joe,” who spends considerable effort and focus on his golf game, the current congressman has decided to run for re-election in a district in which he does not live. As the presumptive front-runner in the 31st district in which he lives “working Joe” decided that running in this competitive district would be too much work. And instead he decided to run in the 35th a newly drawn district that is located almost entirely within the boundaries of state senator Gloria Negrete McLeod's legislative district and is about as bright blue as a district can be in southern California. McCain and Whitman each got about a third of the vote there and it's only 16% white. This miscalculation will cost the Democratic Party dearly since no Democrat secured a top two placement in the 31st. We are left wondering why a congressman who has made a career of casting himself as the working Joe failed to work his home district and trust that his constituents would send him back to Washington.
Could it be that his record of missing twice as many votes as his colleagues or his failure to bring home valuable resources to one of the nation’s neediest areas was the deciding factor in running in a new district? Astonishingly, is ten-year record in Congress is limited to three naming resolutions. It is indeed unfortunate that the 35th district will become a costly battleground when this all could have been avoided. Senator McLeod has lived in this new district since 1970 and has represented over 80% of the district over the past 12 years. It is no wonder that even after being outspent 10 to 1 she is within striking distance of unseating him.
There have been some successes that have not been kind to the district. Since his election he has worked hard to create his own dynasty of Baby Bacas akin to the
Working Joe turns out to be just another tired politician that raises political dollars and creates real work for other Democrats trying to win back the Congress from out of touch Republicans. according to ProgressivePunch Baca's lifetime score on crucial roll calls is an abysmal 71.25, considerably more conservative than other California Blue Dogs, like Loretta Sanchez (82.05), Adam Schiff (81.41), and Mike Thompson (81.31). He tends to cross the aisle most and vote with the GOP when the issues are about the environment, about protecting us from corporate predators, issues involving war and everything about human rights and civil liberties. He's one of the most anti-gay Democrats in Congress and he's a 100% vote against curbing government and corporate spying on citizens. Sheila Kuehl, one of the most reliably progressive champions of working families to have served in the California Assembly and Senate knows Gloria McLeod well and is enthusiastic about her challenge to Baca. She told me that McLeod "has been very good on reasonable bills protecting women's health, equal pay, equality in the workplace, reasonable accommodation for pregnant workers," all issues on which Baca can usually be depended on to be a problem.
UPDATE: The Playing Field Evens Out
The highly successful and bipartisan Campaign for Primary Accountability, which has had a pivotal role in defeating a string of corrupt incumbents of both parties this year, just announced they're going to help make sure voters in CA-35 know just what a complete waste of a congressional seat Joe Baca has been. The spokesperson for the group, Curtis Ellis, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that “Ms. McLeod is running very strong there. There is a significant percentage of the people in that district who are ready to consider someone else.”