Saturday, March 10, 2012

Scandals & Incompetence Inspire Two Republicans To Jump Into A Primary Battle Against Buck McKeon


California's 25th CD has been, politically speaking, one of the sleepiest in the state. A humongous district, it stretched from the northeast corner of L.A. (Santa Clarita) east and north through the Antelope Valley, Mojave Desert, Death Valley, Owens Valley, hundreds of thousands of acres of military training grounds (China Lake and Fort Irwin) and then up along the Nevada border to encompass Inyo and Mono counties as far north as Sacramento-- the biggest district in the state! And solidly Republican. Now the huge swathes of San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono are gone and the district is almost entirely in L.A. County-- compact... and no longer safely Republican. Obama would have narrowly edged McCain in the new boundaries in 2008. The 25th is now a swing district and a key battleground. So what a time for longtime incumbent Buck McKeon to be caught up in a series of scandals! In fact, the only thing red about the new 25th is the blood in the water seeping out of a severely wounded McKeon! In a year where we’ve already seen incumbents fall in primaries, McKeon could follow Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH) as a casualty of a fed-up electorate. McKeon's arrogance, imperious personality and scandalous behavior have now drawn out two GOP challengers who join Blue America-backed progressive Dr. Lee Rogers (D) to vie for the seat. Last week, Republican (Victoria) Cathie Wright from Simi Valley filed her paperwork with county officials. Wright is the daughter of the former state senator with the same name. She wasted no time blasting McKeon over his scandalous career in Washington. The Santa Clarita Signal reported:
“This whole Countrywide thing, if true, then you’ve got a serious problem there,” Wright said.

Last month, it was revealed that Congressmen McKeon and Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, each received mortgage loans from the now-defunct Countrywide mortgage company under a VIP loan program.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been investigating whether members of Congress received discounts from a Countrywide VIP program with some of the favored customers known as “Friends of Angelo”-- a reference to former Countrywide Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo.

Wright also has issues, she said, with McKeon’s wife, Patricia, being paid to work on her husband’s campaign.

“All the time my mom ran for office, I would help with the campaign. But my mom would never have paid me for it,” she said.

Patricia McKeon, a candidate in the California 38th Assembly District, is treasurer for her husband’s campaigns.

Wednesday another Republican, Dante Acosta from Santa Clarita, pulled paperwork from Los Angeles County and announced his intention to file. This is significant because Acosta is the father of Army Spc Rudy Acosta who was killed in Afghanistan on March 19, 2011 by an Afghan national who was hired by a Canadian company which was contracted from the Department of Defense to provide security at Acosta’s base. The assailant waited until Acosta was unarmed and opened fire, killing him and a fellow soldier from Ohio. Acosta was a resident in Canyon Country, part of McKeon’s district. Dante Acosta sought answers from McKeon, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, which has oversight on military issues. McKeon was not very responsive until Dante Acosta approached the media and shamed him into action. McKeon introduced a bill this week aimed at banning foreign nationals from providing base security, but other provisions in the bill would delay the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, an obvious poison pill, and is unlikely to be signed by President Obama, even if it is approved by Congress. The Signal reported that after two trips to DC looking for answer, Dante Acosta was frustrated enough, primarily by the treatment he got from McKeon and his staff to run for office himself-- against McKeon. Acosta is very well-regarded in the community, has the extensive civic tied that McKeon has let lapse, and it is thought he can give McKeon a very serious challenge in the primary. He's already paid the filing fees and he wrapped up the remaining paperwork yesterday.

Last week, McKeon finally introduced the bill to stop private security firms from being contracted to protect U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan. Acosta was unimpressed "A week before the filing deadline for someone running against him in an election year? I'll let the public draw their own conclusions," he scoffed. "The way it took 6 months to get some kind of response from our congressman's office was disheartening. Especially when he actually chairs the committee that has responsibility and oversight power. It woke me up to the fact that our district-- such a prominent district-- is so underserved."

As we've been pointing out for the last few months, McKeon’s Democratic challenger, Lee Rogers, is in a good position since redistricting and evolvinging demographics have changed the district from red to purple. He'll be our live blogging guest at Crooks and Liars next Tuesday at 11am for a wide-ranging discussion of the campaign and the issues facing the district. This isn't just about all McKeon's scandals-- from the widely reported Countrywide VIP program to the still unfolding insider trading scandal and the illegal fundraising for his wife's state Assembly race. This is also about getting dynamic and intelligent, energetic new leadership for a new district and why Lee Rogers is the right person to be offering that. Sure, there's a pattern of behavior that has landed McKeon in hot water back in DC where he's currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Between that and an internal splintered local GOP-- McKeon has angered the Republican base by putting his wife up for the state Assembly against a popular local Republican, his own former district director, Scott Wilk-- the time is right for a red to blue switch.

McKeon has never really been this vulnerable and we're predicting that his primary race will leave him even more damaged, if not beaten. Rogers has the best chance to unseat him in the general election of any Democrat since McKeon was first elected 2 decades ago. The DCCC is far, far away and doesn't seem to have awoken to the potential of picking up a Republican seat in California, where they only come to collect money, never to spend any. But the state party unanimously endorsed Rogers and a primary challenger has dropped out of the race, giving him a clear shot for taking on McKeon. He can use some grassroots help and the California Young Democrats and several other core Democratic constituency groups are helping him organize an unprecedented ground operation. Blue America is helping him collect contributions here at our ActBlue page. Please come by Crooks and Liars on Tuesday morning to meet him for yourself.

Labels: , , ,


At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Carol Doty said...

McKeon has been such a military expert, probably thought he could do whatever he wants so long as he keeps the defense budget large.


Post a Comment

<< Home