EDITORIAL One of the half-dozen worst members of the United States Congress represents a district less than 50 miles from San Francisco. Republican Richard Pombo of Tracy chairs the House Resources Committee and has used that post to attempt to eliminate the Endangered Species Act and gut a long list of environmental regulations. He's been an ally of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff. He's rabidly antichoice. And if the Republicans keep control of the House, he will become even more powerful.
A few months ago, his seat seemed fairly safe: Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican, challenged him in the primary but didn't even come close to defeating Pombo. His Democratic challenger, energy consultant Jerry McNerney, was way behind in fundraising and the national Democratic Party wasn't exactly targeting this as a competitive seat.
But times change quickly, and right now some polls (although admittedly ones taken by McNerney and his allies) show the race close enough that an upset is entirely possible. The GOP is clearly worried and has poured half a million dollars into Pombo's campaign. McNerney's now on the national radar; retired general Wesley Clark came out to endorse him, and there's Democratic Party money flowing in too. But he's still behind Pombo, and resources may turn out to be a key factor in the final weeks.
McNerney isn't a San Francisco liberal by any stretch (he's even been a consultant to Pacific Gas and Electric Co., albeit on alternative energy). But he's radically better than Pombo: he's pro-choice and pro-labor, and as someone whose career is in the wind power business, he's got a real understanding of energy and environmental issues.
We support McNerney, and we're more than happy to endorse him, even though he's outside the area for which we usually issue recommendations. But for San Francisco and central East Bay residents, whose Democratic congressional representatives face no real opposition, this may be a place to put some money and political energy: McNerney is holding an SF fundraiser, and his campaign is looking for volunteer help. Defeating Pombo would be a huge coup and might be one of the most effective ways for local folks to help Democrats take back the House. SFBG
McNerney's fundraiser is Oct. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Delancey Street, 600 Embarcadero, SF. Info: (925) 556-7077.
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