If you watch the Sopranos, you've probably seen an underworld boss kiss the cheek of the next victim of the family hit squad. Recently, voters in Connecticut let the world know that a kiss from the Don of the regime in Washington, D.C. can be politically just as lethal.
As the recipient of another commander-in-chief cuddle (see what I like to call "The Squeeze" above), no incumbent is a more worthy target of voter ire than Richard Pombo. While promoting Bush's foreign policy disaster in Iraq, Pombo voted to cut $1.8 billion in benefits to veterans. He also cast the deciding vote in the House against funding for prosthetics for wounded veterans -- including soldiers coming home from Iraq who have lost limbs caused by roadside bombs.
Pombo has made it his 13-year mission to gut the Endangered Species Act. From his powerful perch as Chair of the House Resources, Pombo pushes legislation to line our coasts with oil rigs and lease our nation's parks to the highest bidder. As gas prices and oil company profits simultaneously skyrocket, Pombo abuses his power over the purse to provide massive subsidies to his Big Oil buddies. The Palm Beach Post calls Pombo an "eco-thug" and Mother Jones has named him the #1 enemy of the world's oceans.
While Pombo's disregard for our veterans and his record on the environment are deplorable, Pombo is also under fire for corruption. Pombo's ethical transgressions include ties to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, paying his wife and brother more than $350,000 in campaign "consulting fees," and taking a family vacation in an RV on the taxpayers' dime. As a result, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-partisan watchdog group, recently filed a multiple-count ethics complaint against Pombo to a House committee and gave Pombo the ignominious honor of being named one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress
I'm running for Congress because the people of California's 11th Congressional District deserve a better choice and a chance to put an end to Pombo's politics. I believe we can restore integrity, honesty, and ethics to the people's house. This is why I've gained the endorsement of former Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey, who garnered an impressive 32 percent of the vote against Pombo in this year's June primary (as well as support from Republican Tom Benigno, who received 6 percent of the vote). Like many patriotic Republicans in my district, Pete McCloskey is prioritizing the needs of his country over his own party.
I'm not a politician. I've spent my career developing wind energy technology. Like many Americans, my concern for the direction of our country has deepened over the last six years, with the tipping point coming in 2004 when I received a life-changing call from my son Michael. He called from his Air Force post to tell me his primary absentee ballot did not list a Democrat running against Pombo. He told me that he was going to write in my name and then asked me to run. Michael said he was doing his duty and it was time for me to do mine. I decided, that if no one else was willing to stand up against Pombo to fight for the future of America, then I would take up the challenge.
To the surprise of many pundits and power-brokers, I captured more votes in the general election than any other opponent Richard Pombo had ever faced. I did that, and won a competitive contested primary in June, by telling people the truth: that we can't drill our way to energy independence, that those who have served our country deserve our steadfast support, and that we owe our citizens more than the culture of corruption and greed that has gripped our nation's capital.
By speaking out on these vital issues and holding Richard Pombo accountable, I can win this election and help the Democrats take back Congress. In fact, an independent poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in May showed me leading Pombo 46 to 42 percent.
I am in a strong position to defeat Pombo because the people of my district and the country are sick and tired of the status quo and want real change. We want a rational foreign policy that recognizes that blindly "staying the course" will not strengthen our national security. We want real action to reverse the climate crisis that is already engulfing us. We want fiscal responsibility instead of an economic policy that allows foreign countries to hold our nation's financial future hostage.
We simply can't afford two more years of one-party rule by extreme right-wing ideologues, and Americans know it. Starting with this seat, and with the support of Republicans like Pete McCloskey and Tom Benigno, we will take back the House of Representatives and change the course of our country to a more hopeful future.
I am honored and fortunate to have strong support from labor, as well as local and national grassroots groups. But, today, we all need to act as if our country's future is at stake, because it truly is. To send someone to Congress who will change the irresponsible leadership corrupting Washington, please visit our website. With your help, we can give the political kiss of death to the politics of Richard Pombo.