Rep. Tom McClintock (R)
California 4th District
California sprang into existence with the Gold Rush of 1849. Statehood and the creation of the first 27 counties followed in 1850. The new state’s first boom area was the Mother Lode Country in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains above Sacramento. Mining camps the size of Eastern cities grew up almost overnight in vacant valleys locked amid steep hills, with thousands of would-be millionaires gathered to find gold, though most of those who actually got rich did so by providing goods and services that catered to miners’ needs. In Placerville, John Studebaker had a buggy shop, Phillip Armour ran a butcher shop, and Mark Hopkins had a dry goods store. The biggest mine in California was in Grass Valley in 1857 and was worked for half a century. But long before that, most of the Mother Lode Country emptied out, leaving ghost towns and villages with hundreds of deserted houses, an antique vacation country left behind in time.
2008 Presidential Vote
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When local residents celebrated the sesquicentennial, the area had been resurrected as a booming exurban and tourist mecca. “The American River near Coloma becomes a virtual freeway of whooping rafters on summer weekends,” wrote USA Today. “The Mother Lode also offers modern-day prospectors an intriguing pastiche of bed-and-breakfast inns, musty antique stores and such blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em outposts as Volcano, Fiddletown, Rough and Ready.” Thousands of Californians—many of them families from smog-filled, middle-class suburbs of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Francisco Bay Area—went looking for a more pleasant, small-town, orderly environment, and found it along fast-flowing creeks where the ’49ers camped. Placer County, which includes Sacramento suburbs and part of the Mother Lode Country, grew 34% from 2000 to 2007 and was among the fastest-growing counties in California. It also has the highest percentage of registered Republicans in the state and ranks among its most wealthy counties. On Lake Tahoe, Truckee has grown with the development of ski resorts. Politically, this growth has changed the Mother Lode Country from Democratic to Republican. In 1976, nine Mother Lode counties from Sierra to Mariposa cast 118,000 votes and voted 50%-47% for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford. In 2004, they cast 370,000 votes and voted 61% for George W. Bush, and in 2008, they cast 445,000 votes and backed John McCain over Barack Obama, 54%-44%. California as a whole favored Obama over McCain 61%-37%. The culture here could not be more different from that of the Bay Area, less than 50 miles away.
The 4th Congressional District of California consists of the northern half of the Mother Lode Country and the Placer County suburbs of Sacramento, plus a small slice of Sacramento County. It extends north through thinly populated mountain counties like Modoc, site of a World War II detention facility for Japanese-Americans. Modoc County shares a border with Oregon and Nevada. Most residents live within the Interstate 80 corridor, clustered near Sacramento in suburbs like Roseville, the district’s most populous city, which grew 34% from 2000 to 2006 and has plans to build a large private university. Some 33% of district residents live in areas classified as rural, the largest percentage of the state’s 53 districts.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: July 10, 1956, Bronxville, NY .
Home: Granite Bay.
Education: U.C.L.A., B.A. 1978..
Family: Married (Lori); 2 children.
Elected office: CA Assembly, 1982-92, 1996-2000; CA Senate 2000-08.
Professional Career: Newspaper columnist, journalist.
The new congressman from the 4th District is Republican Tom McClintock. He spent his early childhood in White Plains, N.Y., where he lived until he was 9. His earliest exposure to politics came at a young age, when his mother took him to a campaign rally with Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon at a local airport in 1960. After graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles, he worked briefly as a political columnist and a state Senate aide before leaping into elected office at age 26 with a successful run for the California Assembly in 1982. From his earliest days in the Legislature, McClintock established himself as perhaps its most vocal, if not the most effective, budget hawk, railing against tax increases and high spending under Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Supporters saw an eloquent champion of conservative ideas, a policy wonk with a penchant for quoting Abraham Lincoln. Detractors viewed him as an ideological obstructionist with few legislative accomplishments.
|Tom McClintock (R)||185,790||(50%)||($3,532,595)|
|Charlie Brown (D)||183,990||(50%)||($2,598,080)|
|Tom McClintock (R)||51,655||(53%)|
|Doug Ose (R)||37,802||(39%)|
|Suzanne Jones (R)||4,920||(5%)|
McClintock tested the limits of his appeal in a liberal state through a relentless effort to win higher office. His name has appeared on a ballot in California in every state election since 1982. He ran twice for a U.S. House seat in Southern California, dropping out of the 1986 race during the Republican primary and losing the 1992 race to Democrat Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson. He ran for state controller in 1994 and again in 2002, narrowly losing both times. In 2006, he was unsuccessful as his party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, even as Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sailed to re-election. But no race elevated McClintock’s profile in the state as much as his quixotic campaign for governor in the 2003 recall election. As star-struck Republicans lined up behind former actor Schwarzenegger, McClintock forged ahead unbowed, presenting himself as the true Republican in a field of hopefuls that at one point included political commentator Arianna Huffington and actor Gary Coleman. McClintock emphasized his decades-long opposition to the state’s car tax. (Increases in the vehicle registration fee during Democrat Gray Davis’s tenure were at the heart of the embattled governor’s unpopularity.) He finished with 13.5%.
Opportunity struck yet again for McClintock in 2008. In February, after nine-term Republican Rep. John Doolittle announced he would step down amid a federal probe of disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, several Republicans in the district urged McClintock to get into the race. Barred by term limits from seeking re-election, McClintock got in and faced an intense, three-month primary campaign against former Rep. Doug Ose, a Republican moderate who held the neighboring 3rd District seat from 1999 to 2005. Ose attacked McClintock as a career politician and carpetbagger, although Ose also lived outside the district. McClintock, who noted that he had lived in the district’s Sacramento suburbs while serving in the Legislature, ran ads branding Ose as a liberal who had voted to raise taxes and had earmarked millions of dollars for federal projects in his district. McClintock won the primary 54%-39% over Ose.
In the general election, McClintock faced Democrat Charlie Brown, a retired Air Force officer who came within 10,000 votes of beating Doolittle in 2006. Brown, who raised his family in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, renewed criticism of McClintock as an opportunist who didn’t live in the district. McClintock ran ads calling attention to Brown’s attendance at a 2005 protest by Code Pink, the fiercely anti-war group, and asserted that Brown supported gay marriage but not the troops in Iraq. He portrayed Brown as a clone of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a liberal Democrat. McClintock’s expected easy victory actually took weeks to unfold. He won by precisely 1,800 votes, 50.2%-49.8%, and took six of the nine counties. McClintock said he had turned back “a liberal wave that swept over America and lapped at the edge of this district.”
In the House, McClintock got seats on the Education and Labor Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. He promised to eschew earmarks, the funding requests that members often tack on to major spending bills for special projects in their districts. He faces the prospect of a tough re-election race in 2010.