Friday, September 08, 2006



I'm in the middle of a long piece about the dozen worst Republicans in the House. I'm not sure who #1 is yet, but there is no doubt that Jerry Lewis, a crooked extremist from Southern California, is a contender. A few days ago I updated a July 31 piece I wrote about how The Law closing in on Lewis, "The Nooses Tighten Around Jerry Lewis' Scrawny, Crooked Neck," with the latest outrage, a real estate scam. But my attacks on Lewis have fallen off considerably as the midterms approach. That makes no sense, right?

Right. Over the course of several months this past winter, I'd had spent hours on the phone with Louie Contreras, a political unknown who decided to run against Lewis. Louie seemed like a nice young guy and no one else was interested in taking Lewis on. I had even called a couple of local Democratic clubs to see if I could drum up some interest in finding someone with a shot to take on Lewis. I couldn't. The sprawling, suburban district has been pretty forbidding territory for Democrats. Not only did CA-41 have one of the highest percentage increases of votes for Bush from 2000 to 2004 of any district in the country (56% to 62%), the Democrats didn't even bother finding anyone to run against Lewis in '04. So Louie, a local insurance broker from fast growing Hesperia, came along and tossed his hat in the ring and kept a low, low, low profile and "won" the uncontested primary. He even got some traditional Democratic support from labor and the state party. The DCCC ignored the race but that's par for the course around most of the country anyway.

The last discernible activity on Contreras' website was in late March. When I call his office, it just rings and rings. There is no answer machine. It rings in the mornings and it rings in the afternoons and it rings in the evenings and it rings during the week and on the weekends. No one's home; ever. His cell phone-- the one I spent the hours talking to him on-- it's not his number any more. The woman who answered it said it was recently assigned to her. His brokerage office-- same story; someone else has that number now. Louie, who used to call me and e-mail me about framing his basic positions, hasn't answered any e-mails in months. I spoke to several local reporters who are covering Lewis. Not one has spoken to Louie, although a recent article in a local paper (with a DC byline) indicates that someone named Patrick Kahler is a spokesperson for Contreras.

I have friends who live in Big Bear. They say there is no sign that anyone is running for congress in their district. The Secretary of State's office confirms that Louie is certified as the Democrat on the ballot. While Lewis' campaign committee reports having spent $634,993 so far-- in all likelihood just a money-laundering op to enrich himself further-- with another $1,489,160 on hand, Contreras hasn't raised enough money to have even filed a report with the FEC. ActBlue has collected a total of $125 (from 3 contributors).

Lewis hasn't bothered to hire a campaign manager, or open a campaign headquarters and, apparently, he has no opponent. Lewis also has a history of buying off local Democrats and contributed a great deal of money to local Democratic elected officials. When I contacted the Chairman of the California Democratic Party, Art Torres, his assistant became furious and insists that Contreras' campaign is "up and running." When I questioned her about that she hung up on me. Two DCCC contacts told me, off the record, that they have no contact with Contreras either.

Even when reporting on his criminal behavior, the local media always couches the real story in Lewis' standard and unrelentingĀ  propaganda about how all he ever does is help the district residents. (They fall for his line too.) But the question remains-- did the most corrupt elected official in the United States, currently under investigation for a myriad of serious crimes, pick (and maybe even pay for) an "opponent" to fill the Democratic Party slot, an opponent who then disappeared, leaving Lewis with no opponent at all-- except for the FBI and others looking into his massive congressional crime spree?

I hope I'm wrong about this and that Contreras has a strategy and is going to burst on the scene any moment to slay the evil dragon. I wouldn't bet on it though.


Normally when I do a story like this, I give a link to a site where you can volunteer and contribute. In this case, I have a different suggestion. "Have You Had Enough?" Of the wire taps? Of the rubber stamp? Of the corruption? Of Jerry Lewis? It looks like we'll have to depend on the FBI to remove him because the Democratic Party is... well, you know. But we can do something about removing him from the committee chairmanship that has allowed the hundreds of millions of dollars in misappropriated, stolen and improperly earmarked taxpayer dollars to flow from us to... Lewis and his cronies. How? Glad you asked. The Blue America PAC is raising money to put radio spots on the air before the election. The spots are based on the song (at the link above) and will target especially bad Republican incumbents like Dirty Dick Pombo, Mean Jean Schmidt and Weepy Robin Hayes. If we can help Democrats win enough seats from the Republicans in November, Lewis-- and all the reactionary committee chairmen-- lose their power bases. If you could, please consider helping us with that effort at the Blue America ActBlue Page.


I'm happy to report that Louie Contreras called me on Saturday and again this morning (and even gave me a secret phone number)... so he is around. Is he campaigning? Well, he says he's keeping it under the radar and doing a lot of grassroots pressing of the flesh. He points out, not unreasonably, that even if he could miraculously raise a couple of hundred grand, it would be swamped by Lewis' $2,000,000 and that Lewis' resources are virtually endless. Louie assures me that he would never, never be in cahoots with Jerry Lewis and that he feels he has a strategy for winning in November. "I'd say I have a 70% chance of winning."

I didn't ask him if that is predicated on Jerry Lewis being indicted before November. Louie claims he was led to believe he would get support from the California Democratic Party and from the DCCC and neither has come through. But he is undaunted by this. He has a series of surprises that will kickstart his campaign. He just doesn't want Lewis and local Republican partisans to be able to go on the counter-attack too early. It might be a viable strategy. He told me we'll see it start in approximately 10 days. I'll keep you posted. And if you want to help Louie out, his ActBlue page is open for business.


At 8:16 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

What a story! Even if our Jerry wasn't involved in either the start or (apparent) finish of the Contreras, er, candidacy.

When we go around the world teaching other countries about how to have a democracy, with elections 'n' stuff, do we include this lesson?


At 12:35 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Gee, I wonder if we could, like, hypnotize Karl Rove and have him run his candidates this way--where they're totally inaccessible and unheard-from except if you've got the secret phone number.


At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contreras has hire'd a group of high profile consultants for his Campaign to take on Jerry Lewis
in the 41st Congressional Dist. In 2006 Louie Contreras was the Democratic Partie's Nominee when no one wanted to take on Jerry Lewis powerfull head of appropriations committy in a heavily Red Dist,contreras lost by 18% against Jerry's 1.500,000 now since he is under investigation by federal and ethics committies, some potential candidates still feel quite unsure about take'ing him on. Contreras has once again decided too throw his hat in the ring regardless if Jerry Lewis steps down or not .and be the democratic parties nominee once again.
this time with the name recognition from the 2006,and with wide spread grass roots support and the backing of the DCCC as a primary target district to win.. he will breeze thru the primary, and has a great chance at winning in the general election in november 2008
Let show some grass roots support!!


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