Democrats have made good on their promise to aggressively target Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and other prominent Republicans. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran ads in two local papers Wednesday that painted Pombo as ethically challenged and out of touch with the needs of Central Valley residents.
Republicans say Democrats are trying to generate attention in the wake of being turned down by two well-known Democrats they were seeking to oppose the powerful seven-term congressman.
The ads in The Tracy Press and The Tri-Valley Herald read: "Richard Pombo's work in Congress is generating headlines … on his ties to lobbyists, his conflicts of interests and his alleged misuse of tax dollars."
Pombo was one of six Republicans targeted by ads in their local papers. The others were Bob Ney of Ohio, Charles Taylor of North Carolina, Rob Simmons of Connecticut, Duke Cunningham of San Diego, and House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas.
According to Sarah Feinberg, press secretary for the Democratic committee, each was targeted in about two papers. The total cost of $36,000 was shared by the Democratic National Committee. The ads included a link to a Web site describing their ties to DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who have been linked to a variety of ethics scandals.
"These are six men who are wrapped up in ethics scandals," Feinberg said. "It's important for voters in their districts to know that they're focused on special interests and not the interests of their constituents."
Pombo's congressional office referred calls to Republican political consultant Wayne Johnson, president of JohnsonClark Associates of Sacramento and a consultant to Pombo since his first campaign in 1992.
Johnson had a different explanation for the ads.
"They're trying to attract a candidate," Johnson said. "It's early, but not so early that they haven't been turned down."
Johnson referred to decisions by two prominent local Democrats not to challenge Pombo. Mike Machado, a state senator representing Linden, has decided to finish his term, which runs through 2008. State assemblywoman Barbara Matthews, D-Tracy, turned down a request from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, to challenge Pombo.