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Meet the Candidate

McClintock remains confident in re-election bid

Two opponents of five-term GOP congressman outraised him in final quarter of 2017
By: Graham Womack /Of the Auburn Journal
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4th Congressional District
Funds raised through Dec. 31
 
Tom McClintock, $638,452
Jessica Morse, $561,044
Regina Bateson,  $456,073
Roza Calderon*,  $77,465
Rochelle Wilcox**, $24,438  
 
* = Calderon’s totals are through Sept. 30
** = Wilcox suspended her campaign in November    ~ Source: U.S. Federal Elections  Commission website 
Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series highlighting candidates for California’s 4th Congressional District. Three Democratic candidates and one Republican were profiled Feb. 22 and 25  in the Journal.
 
Tom McClintock hasn’t faced an election this competitive since winning his seat a decade ago in the U.S. House of Representatives.
McClintock won a narrow victory in 2008 over Democrat Charlie Brown to represent California’s 4th Congressional District. In the next four elections, McClintock won by an average of 24.5 percent, with all of his Democratic opponents raising just $210,720 combined.
This election’s different, with McClintock leading in fundraising with $638,452 through Dec. 31 according to the Federal Elections Commission website, but two Democratic opponents, Jessica Morse and Regina Bateson, just behind at $561,044 and $456,073, respectively.
Morse, a former national security strategist and Bateson, on unpaid leave as a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, also each outraised McClintock in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added McClintock in October to a list of perceived vulnerable representatives, according to the Los Angeles Times, with Donald Trump’s election galvanizing political activism on the left. But if McClintock is feeling nervous, it wasn’t evident in a phone interview Feb. 16 with the Auburn Journal.
“There’s no question the Democrats are highly energized right now,” McClintock said. “But this is the most Republican district in California and I’m confident that the votes I’ve cast and the positions I’ve taken are supported by the vast majority of voters in this district.”
‘A very good year for Republicans’
Last year began with a bump for McClintock, with a raucous town hall Feb. 4, 2017 in Roseville.
That day, after Roseville peace officers escorted McClintock to an SUV when the town hall concluded, he sparked national outrage by suggesting that anarchists had been among the hundreds who packed Tower Theatre and peacefully protested on Vernon Street.
Since then, McClintock has held other contentious town halls and protesters have massed weekly outside his Douglas Boulevard offices.
McClintock said, though, that his campaign has been going “very well.”
“Obviously, we’re seeing a hardening of the partisan lines,” McClintock said. “I think very few Republicans are going to be voting for a Democrat this year. A few Democrats are going to be voting for a Republican. But independents are swinging dramatically toward Republican since the tax relief bill was signed.”
McClintock added that while Democrats held a 15-point advantage in December on a “Congressional generic ballot according to a wave election nationally,” the website Politico had recently reported Republicans now holding a one-point advantage.
That website’s poll, published Feb. 14, noted that 39 percent of voters would support a Republican candidate in their district, 38 percent would support a Democrat and 23 percent remain undecided.
“I think if the economy continues to improve this year, it’s going to be a very good year for Republicans,” McClintock said.
Among his proudest achievements from his work in Congress are his time as budget chairman of the Republican Study Committee, his efforts at securing reliable water supplies and his work at “restoring our dying forests to health.”
McClintock also said that his efforts on tax reform “helped win major improvements in the tax relief bill that assured even in high-tax states like ours, virtually every family saw a tax cut.”
Many things seemingly haven’t changed with McClintock, such as his view on gun control, unshaken by a mass shooting at a Florida high school Feb. 14 that left 17 dead.
The Washington Post reported in 2016 that McClintock had sponsored zero gun-control bills and eight gun-rights bills in his time in Congress. FEC records also show that McClintock has received $13,950 from a political action committee for the National Rifle Association since 2008.
Asked if the recent shooting had caused him to revisit his policy, McClintock reiterated a written statement his staff has been reading to callers to his offices.
“Well, we have 50 years of experience with gun control laws now,” McClintock said. “We found they are extremely ineffective at disarming criminals and madmen. We also know what works: incarcerating gun predators for the rest of their lives and identifying the dangerous mentally ill and confining them so they can get the treatment they need. Those measures work.”
McClintock also remains unapologetic about living outside the 4th District in Elk Grove, saying that housing prices collapsed after his initial election to the seat and that they’re still below what he and his wife paid in equity.
“The interesting thing is, time and again, I’ve faced candidates who’ve moved into the district from the East Coast for the express purpose of running,” McClintock said. “They attack me for living outside the district — as you know, Elk Grove’s about 15 miles from the boundary of the 4th District — and then they moved right back out again. So this is a well-worn path.”
The road to November
The months ahead in the campaign could be critical. Bateson and Morse, who each grew up in the Sacramento region before moving to the East Coast, are vying for an endorsement from the California Democratic Party, which might come at a statewide conference in San Diego this weekend.
Bateson and Morse could remain in the race regardless through the June primary and continue to split fundraising. A third Democratic candidate, Roza Calderon, has been in the race since May and has endorsements from two national groups tied to 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
McClintock, meanwhile, seems to have district Republicans solidly behind him, with just one challenger in his party: 26-year-old Roseville resident Mitchell White, who quit an accounting job in December to run and bills himself as the race’s only true conservative.
The top two finishers in the June primary will appear on the ballot for the November general election, regardless of party.
McClintock isn’t worried about fundraising, saying that he thought “our supporters are now becoming energized, so I’m fairly confident that we’ll be able to raise the money that we need.”
Were there ever an election for McClintock to rethink his views or past practices, this might be it. But it doesn’t seem to be happening.
“My views are guided by fundamental principles that I’ve adopted over many years because I believe they’re the surest path toward a happy and prosperous society and they’re essentially the founding principles of our nation … individual liberty, constitutionally limited government, personal responsibility,” McClintock said.
He said these principles don’t change.
“I believe in them, I stand firmly on them, people know where I stand and they can be confident that I will stand firm,” McClintock said. “I’m quite confident to continue to advocate those principles and I think they will continue to resonate.”