Opinion: New group faces uphill challenge of GOP Rep. David Dreier

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By all expectations, Rep. David Dreier shouldn’t have a political care in the world. Even in this tough year for Republicans.

First elected in 1980, the GOP congressman has used the power of congressional incumbency to amass a campaign account bulging with $1.85 million. His Democratic foe, Russ Warner, has barely $104,000.

Dreier’s district, which covers parts of Los Angeles County out to San Bernardino County, was tailor-made to ensure Republican victory.

But a California-based independent campaign group, Courage Campaign, is targeting Dreier, seeking to tie him to President George W. Bush. An ad intended for cable TV, but so far only on the Internet, calls him a “Bush rubber stamp.”

Rick Jacobs, the group’s founder, is seeking to undermine Dreier’s reputation as a political moderate. Convinced that Dreier could lose, he said: “This is going to be a huge change year.”


In an interview Dreier spokeswoman Jo Maney called the ad an “amateurish smear job.”

Political consultant Allan Hoffenblum, who tracks California campaigns in his Target Book, said Dreier should have little to fear: “If Republicans start losing seats like Dreier’s, they’re in deep trouble.”

As of its last report, Courage Campaign had $36,000 in the bank. But its backers include major Democratic donors. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mark Gorenberg, and Pacific Palisades investor Thomas Unterman each gave him $5,000.

In recent months, Courage Campaign has mounted a vocal campaign to block a training facility in San Diego County developed by Blackwater, the private security firm, and has also criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein over some of her votes.

--Dan Morain