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State Sen. McClintock to run for Congress

Times Staff Writer

Forced from the state Legislature later this year by term limits, Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock announced his candidacy Tuesday for a Northern California congressional seat hundreds of miles from the Southland district he now represents.

Four unsuccessful campaigns for statewide office, including a 2003 run for governor, have made McClintock a hero to many California conservatives. Early polls by McClintock and others suggest that he is the instant front-runner in the contest to replace retiring Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Roseville), who is stepping down amid a federal corruption probe.

Indeed, minutes after McClintock’s announcement, former state Sen. Rico Oller and Eric Egland, a Republican Party activist, announced that they were dropping out of the primary and endorsing him. Other candidates include former Rep. Doug Ose, a Republican from Sacramento, and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charlie Brown, a Democrat.

Standing with 30 supporters on the steps of the historic Auburn courthouse in the 4th Congressional District, McClintock said he would seek to return the Republican Party in Washington to the ideals of his hero, President Reagan. In a far-ranging speech, McClintock voiced opposition to excessive spending and taxation, and vowed to work for the protection of property rights and the “right to self-defense.”

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He also signaled that immigration would be a key issue in his campaign and talked about border security.

“The fundamental purpose of our national government is to defend our borders,” said McClintock, 51. “If they can’t do that, what good are they? We want our nation’s sovereignty back.”

But in a state where north-south political enmity is legendary, McClintock, who is registered to vote in Thousand Oaks, is already catching flak from some Northern California political foes as a carpetbagger.

“I believe we need a new direction in the 4th District,” Brown said, “not another opportunistic career politician who needs driving directions just to find our district.”

“I don’t believe the voters of this district want an L.A. politician who doesn’t understand the issues and people of Northern California,” Ose said. “It’s just different than representing Southern California beachfront.”

McClintock’s Senate district includes the coastal cities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Ventura, as well as inland communities including Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Moorpark and Ojai.

To address the criticism that he is an outsider, McClintock won endorsements Tuesday from several political leaders in the congressional district he hopes to represent. They include Assemblymen Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), who praised McClintock as “an individual who will represent the interest of the people in keeping taxes low and keeping government small.”

McClintock said he plans to move into the congressional district eventually and predicted that having represented a district in Ventura County would not be held against him.

“Most voters are far more interested in where a candidate stands than where he lives,” McClintock said.

A political maverick, McClintock said he is not unknown to those he wants to represent, because he has been on the statewide ballot seven times while running for lieutenant governor, state controller and governor and received “overwhelming margins” of support.

The congressional district includes rural and mountainous areas of northeast California, stretching from eastern Sacramento County to Lake Tahoe in the south and the Oregon border in the north.

Although McClintock has a house in Thousand Oaks to comply with Senate residency laws, he says that he, his wife and children have lived in Elk Grove near Sacramento since 1996, which is near the congressional district.

“It wasn’t a secret that he really didn’t live in the district,” said Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat and former assemblywoman from an area that overlaps McClintock’s Senate district.

“He was busy trying to be something to all people in the state,” Jackson said. “He very rarely appeared in the district.”

Jackson is a candidate for the Senate seat McClintock is vacating in November.

McClintock, who served 14 years in the state Assembly and the last eight in the Senate, told reporters that he has represented his Southern California district faithfully, even though he estimated he travels there only once every three or four weeks.

“I was very fair with my constituency that it’s a full-time Legislature: I’m not going to be a part-time dad,” McClintock said. “We had a young family, so when I was returned to the Legislature in 1996, I brought the family to Elk Grove.”

patrick.mcgreevy @latimes.com


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