Monday, February 06, 2017

Tom McClintock Represents A Largely Rural, Blood Red District In Northern California-- But Trump's Stink Is Sticking To Him Already


California's 4th Congressional district is a sprawling, mostly empty area east of Sacramento. Most of the people live in a tiny corner of the district in the suburbs north of Sacramento, a triangle encompassed by Roseville, Placerville and Auburn. There are 10 counties but almost 90% of the voters live in suburban Placer and El Dorado counties. The largely rural district includes Yosemite Valley, most of Lake Tahoe and lots of national forests, national wildernesses, national parks and more senior citizens than most California districts. It's one of the most Republican districts in the state-- with a PVI of R+10. In 2012 Romney took 58% of the votes to Obama's 39%. The past November Hillary won that same 39%... but Trump was somewhat off from Romney's big win-- just 54%. Voters in Placer gave him 52.5% and voters in El Dorado 53.4%. Romney won Placer with 59% and El Dorado with 58%.

The local congressman is far-right, but often libertarian-leaning, Tom McClintock. After a series of unsuccessful statewide bids-- for Controller, Lt. Governor and Governor-- McClintock was first elected to Congress in 2008, right on the heels of corrupt Republican John Doolittle being driven from office when he was caught up in a festering mess of financial scandals. The Democrats don't bother contesting the district and McClintock never has to break a sweat in his reelection bids. This cycle he beat Bob Derlet 196,613 (62.8%) to 116,541 (37.2%); having outspent Derlet better than 9 to 1. (When local progressive hero Charlie Brown challenged him in 2008, the DCCC essentially ignored the race-- not wanting a progressive to win-- and McClintock took it with 185,790 votes to Brown's 183,990, less than a 2,000 vote margin, 50.2% to 49.8%. What a great DCCC Pelosi has saddled with!

Anyway, Saturday McClintock had a downhill meeting in the biggest town in the district, Roseville. It was a pretty contentious, raucous scene. Keep in mind, 3 months ago Trump took 54% of the vote and McClintock took 63%. Now it looks like Trump's stink is sticking to McClintock, something Republican congressmembers all over the country are worried about.
Facing a packed auditorium and raucous crowd, Republican Rep. Tom McClintock on Saturday defended his party’s national agenda and voiced strong support for President Donald Trump’s controversial executive actions to scale back Obamacare, ban visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Vote him out,” hundreds of demonstrators chanted outside the Tower Theatre in downtown Roseville, the Republican-heavy population center of McClintock’s sprawling congressional district. Inside the theater, more than 200 people gathered for a town-hall event hosted by McClintock.

Attendees, some carrying signs that read “Resist,” “Dump Tom McTrump” and “Climate change is real,” pressed McClintock to denounce Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, acknowledge the science supporting the human causes of climate change, and oppose Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting refugee admissions to the U.S.

“I believe that order is constitutional,” said McClintock, one of several comments that elicited boos at the hourlong event.

McClintock’s visit drew hundreds of people, most of whom had come to express opposition to the new administration. Many identified themselves as liberal Democrats and progressives, while party registration in McClintock’s district-- which incorporates all or part of 10 counties spanning from Tahoe to Yosemite-- is solidly Republican.

“This is really all about resisting the Trump agenda,” said Wendy Wood, chairwoman of Indivisible Sierra Nevada, a local chapter of a political organization formed in response to the election. “Most of us have never participated in political activism of any sort. Something is happening here, and people here are not happy with (Trump) and McClintock. We’re here to vote them out.”

Roseville police and fire officials capped attendance inside the theater at roughly 200 people. Those left outside voiced frustration about being locked out of the theater, some saying they had driven for hours simply to see McClintock face to face.

“We just wanted to be able to ask questions of our representative and share our thoughts on key issues,” wrote Lauren Lake in an email. “I drove hours over a snowy pass to be there … we were told that the venue was at capacity and no one else would be allowed in.”

Inside the theater, McClintock took about a dozen audience questions. Some of the most passionate comments came from people who said they feared losing access to health care if Republicans press forward to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a clear replacement.

“What do you expect seniors and people with disabilities with low income to do if you take away our Medicare and Medicaid that we rely on to literally stay alive?” asked Amanda Barnes, who said she was paralyzed from her waist down after a hit-and-run accident in a crosswalk five years ago.

McClintock said his party did not yet have a replacement plan, but that there were several Republican-backed proposals still taking shape.

“The answer is a comprehensive bill that rescinds Obamacare in its entirety, and replaces it with reforms that put the patient back in charge of their own decisions, and give them the widest possible range of choices,” McClintock said. “And assure it’s within financial reach for the majority of Americans.”

The response drew shouts of disappointment, as did his comments on climate change.

“In any scientific arena, you are seeing a very vigorous debate over the extent to which man-made carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming,” McClintock said. “Whether or not we destroy our economy for our children, our planet is going to continue to warm and cool as it has for billions of years.”

Many in attendance expressed general disappointment with Trump and called on McClintock to distance himself from recent executive actions, including Trump’s orders scaling back bank regulations and temporarily restricting U.S. entry for refugees as well as visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

“I am terrified about Mr. Trump’s behavior. I literally haven’t slept,” said Jill Ruffman, 58, of Granite Bay. She criticized McClintock and Trump for supporting a House vote to undo an Obama administration rule that required the Social Security Administration to disclose information about disabled recipients with mental illness to the national gun background check system.

“I understand you do not like Donald Trump,” McClintock told the crowd at one point. “I sympathize with you. There have been elections where our side has lost... Just a word of friendly advice: Remember that there were many people in America who disagreed and feared Barack Obama just as vigorously as you disagree with and fear Donald Trump.”

Several times he thanked the audience for the discourse, even if they disagreed.

...McClintock left the theater at 11 a.m., immediately after the town hall concluded, escorted by police as he waded through a thick crowd of protesters who trailed him, shouting, “This is what Democracy looks like.”
When dull, oafish right-wing Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis asked his constituents to come share their thoughts on the future of health care at a town hall meeting he figured he had nothing to worry about. FL-12 is a safely red R+7 district north of Tampa. In 2012, Romney had beaten Obama 53-45.5% and this year Trump had done even better against Clinton-- 57.4% to 38.8%. Bilirakis, who most people still think is his father, their former congressman, beat his opponent by nearly 140,000 votes-- 68.6% to 31.4%. Why worry? Saturday there was an over-capacity crowd at the Palm Harbor community center-- and they were as pissed off as McClintock's constituents. Bilikakis doesn't have a deft mind and isn't capable of veering away from stale Paul Ryan talking points. His constituents noticed.
Some of his constituents showed up Saturday emboldened by recent demonstrations at airports and on the National Mall. One waved a rainbow flag. Another held a cardboard cutout of the Statue of Liberty.

The crowd got rowdy, booing a 77-year-old speaker who said former President Barack Obama played politics to ram the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010.

"Facts, not Fox!" one woman yelled.

Bilirakis took fire from the crowd, too, particularly when he criticized Obamacare.

"I've been hearing from my constituents for several years and they're not happy," he said.

"We are your constituents!" someone shot back.

...[W]hen asked if his thoughts had changed on the Affordable Care Act, the congressman turned to familiar talking points.

"We need to repeal because we need to do it right and expand health care," he said. "Right now, 73 percent of the counties only have one provider. It's too expensive. The premiums are too high. The deductibles are too high."

He plans to hold another listening session next Saturday in New Port Richey.
Sunday morning, halfway across the country, Wisconsin Republican freshman Mike Gallagher-- in a district Trump won 56.2% to 38.6%-- tweeted, uncomfortably, in response to Trump's unhinged comments about the U.S. and Russia on Bill O'Reilly's show, that there is "no moral equivalence between America-- leader of the free world/greatest country on Earth-- and Putin's violent, autocratic, and corrupt Russia." It's going to get harder and harder for Republicans to defend Trump while navigating the tumultuous environment he's creating for them in the lead-up to 2018.

CA-04 doesn't fit into the DCCC's criteria for a challenge and they're not trying to recruit a candidate to run against him. (I suspect the same about Gallagher's district in Wisconsin and Bilirakis' in Florida.) In California, local Democratic activists hate the DCCC as much as they hate Trump, McClintock and the Republican Party and plan on finding their own champion to run against McClintock-- and against the transpartisan establishment that has failed them so miserably-- in 2018. Nationally, Republican congressmembers are starting to feel the pressure of defending a toxic agenda being promulgated by Trump and Ryan. Believe me, it isn't just Gallagher and McClintock sweating today. It will be less than year before they're all panic-stricken and thinking about jumping off tall buildings. (Tepid establishment Democrats like Adam Schiff should try wrapping their heads around this before they get swept up too.)

Meanwhile, opposition to Trump's visit to the U.K. is so strong and widespread that House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has barred so-called President Trumpanzee from being admitted to the House of Commons for an address to Parliament, citing "opposition to racism and sexism" and his anti-refugee Executive Order. He was cheered loudly by both sides of the aisle. Perhaps all the Trump supporters were out fox hunting at the time of the speech.

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At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that buyer's remorse is showing up, but don't expect Trump to surrender power easily now that he's got it. His corporatist backers will insist that he fight off any attempts to replace him with a sentient human with intelligence and common sense. Profits Uber Alles!

At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't get excited about the "trump stink". It's real, but most of the R+5 and over districts wouldn't elect a democrat or democrap to save their lives.

I know folks in CA-4 and they vote R mostly because their libertarian religious beliefs are anathema to democrat candidates. The majority of voters are upper middle and educated... and religious in their libertarianism.

Don't waste your time. In fact they could lose their publicly funded police, fire dept, water, sewer, schools and all health insurance... and they'd be just fine with it. Religion means believing despite total proof that your belief is horseshit. Americans excel at their religion.


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