Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lifetime Republican Pete McCloskey Re-Registers as a Democrat

As my friend Susan says, “One down…”

You guys born in the Republic of Texas probably don’t know Pete McCloskey, or you do if you have a long memory. In California, where I was born, McCloskey is somewhat of a legend. He fit California politics like a glove. A fiscal conservative but social and ethical liberal, Pete McCloskey is best known for his authorship of the Endangered Species Act, a comprehensive act that annually places animal species on a “threatened” or “endangered” list. That list, by the way, has lengthened under every presidency but that of George W. Bush, where it has actually shrunk.

The story was broken in a blog of the Contra Costa Times. It makes a nice read.

Why did McCloskey switch parties? He, himself has said that his family has been in the Republican Party since 1859. Quoted in a letter:

“What finally turned me to despair, however, was listening to the reports, or watching on C-Span, a whole series of congressional oversight hearings on C-Span, held by old friends and colleagues like Pat Leahy, Henry Waxman, Norm Dicks, Nick Rahall, Danny Akaka and others, trying to learn the truth on the misdeeds and incompetence of the Bush Administration. Time after time I saw Republican Members of the House and Senate. speak out in scorn or derision about these exercises of Congress oversight responsibility being "witch-hunts" or partisan attempts to distort the actions of people like the head of the General Service Administration and the top political appointees in the Justice and Interior Departments. Disagreement turned into disgust.”

So it’s finally started to happen. Lifelong Republicans are being driven out of their party by rage and disgust over the antics of the very people that they elected. It’s about time. Democrats have a huge tent and welcomes all former Republicans.

On a side note, and you might think that this is a little lame, but bear with me, this is how my mind works sometimes. Texas CD-22 and Pete McCloskey have a fragile connection.

Last year, McCloskey decided enough was enough within his party and he came out of semi-retirement to run against Richard Pombo in the California Republican Primary. Recall that Pombo and his aptly named political action committee, RICHPAC was among several House Members being investigated with regard to association with Jack Abramoff. Pombo has actually taken the most money from Abramoff – five hundred grand. He was dirty and McCloskey challenged him and lost.

The story has a happy ending though. McCloskey endorsed Pombo’s Democratic opponent and worked on his campaign. In a squeaker of a race, Pombo was defeated. The Democrat? Jerry McNerney. Where have you heard that name before? Here. Jerry McNerney and Kirsten Gillibrand are Nick Lampson’s fellow Democratic freshmen colleagues who won their seats by a slim margin. All three have instituted a great constituent services forum called Congress At Your Corner.

I know, pretty lame.

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