View From Lodi, CA: Will Richard Pombo's "Yea" Vote on House Immigration Bill Be The Key To A Primary Win?
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The June 6th California primary promises a humdinger match up in the Republican 11th District Congressional race, which includes Lodi, between incumbent Richard Pombo and challenger Pete McCloskey.

In a preview of the fireworks, on May 16th when Pombo and McCloskey went face to face in a forum, the two challengers tossed out barbs at each other for nearly 90 minutes.

Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, charged McCloskey with being a carpetbagger.  And Pombo steadfastly defended his integrity throughout his twelve years in Congress.

McCloskey, a former eight-term Congressman, hammered away at Pombo's ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his neglect of the failing Delta levee system and his refusal to uphold the 1994 "Contract With America" wherein GOP leaders promised to limit government, restore principles, balance budgets, and serve no more than six terms.

Despite being 78-years-old, McCloskey is an attractive candidate. Not only does McCloskey have Congressional experience, but also he taught legal ethics at Stanford and Santa Clara Universities.

By refusing to take contributions from Political Action Committees, McCloskey demonstrates the courage of his convictions.

McCloskey has a stellar service record. He served as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.

On the other hand, Pombo is a decidedly less compelling candidate. Unlike McCloskey, Pombo vigorously supports President Bush and the Iraq War.

And Pombo's links to Abramoff and to indicted former majority leader Tom DeLay, during an era of rampant corruption in Washington, D.C are disgraceful.

Running under the broad umbrella of traditional Republican values, McCloskey is doing a great job in bring the primary down to the wire. He's picked up some important endorsements including the Sacramento Bee, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle and the California Teachers Association [ McCloskey over Pombo, San Francisco Chronicle, May 24, 2006]

(One of the best things that Pombo has going for him is the near impossibility of ousting incumbents. Incumbents rarely lose, particularly in California where lawmakers drew the political district lines to their advantage.)

In the last twenty years, in a phenomenon known as " Congressional Stagnation," the reelection rate for House and Senate incumbents has ranged from a low of 75 percent to a high of 98 percent.

I have written several times in this space that I believe the majority of Congress should be voted out of office.

And under normal circumstances I might prefer McCloskey, a newcomer who is not a newcomer, to Pombo.

But unfortunately, among the " traditional Republican values" McCloskey embraces is marching with illegal aliens to protest H.R. 4437, a bill that would create tougher immigration enforcement measures.

I was very disappointed to see McCloskey in Stockton on May 1st at the infamous and ultimately impotent "Great American Boycott America."

McCloskey carried a sign in Spanish and, through his participation in the rally, indirectly endorses open borders.

Pombo, on the other hand, voted "Yea" on H.R. 4437.

And for that one action alone, Pombo receives my endorsement.

As is so often the case in the immigration debate, a sea of misinformation exists about H.R. 4437, most of it generated by the open borders lobby.

First, the outcry that H.R. 4437 would make criminals of persons running soup kitchens or other humanitarian organization is absurd.

For the past twenty years, under existing U.S. law, persons "assisting" illegal immigrants are subject to prosecution.

This law has never been enforced. And if it were, a majority of my colleagues at the Lodi Unified School District—and other school districts throughout the U.S.—would be calling their lawyers. [ note: Damned if you do…damned if you don't.]

Second, critics of H.R. 4437 insist that it is wrong to make illegal immigration a felony. But they have already won their battle. On April 12th Republican House Leader Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced that the felony provision would be removed.

I support Pombo because I am a single-issue voter. The candidate who is the strongest against illegal immigration is the one that gets my vote.

Once America has control of its borders, illegal immigration will slow to a small percentage of its current level.

And as illegal immigration dwindles, then other social challenges will become more easily managed—schools, health care, crime and urban sprawl.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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