By Roz Rogoff
McNerney Campaigning at Taxpayer's ExpenseUploaded: Dec 23, 2009
This week I received two glossy, full-color fliers telling me about all of the good things Representative Jerry McNerney has been doing for the 11th Congressional District. One announced, "Congressman Jerry McNerney Delivering Results (underlined in red) for California Veterans." The other is titled, "Improving Health Care and Protecting Medicare." The brochures are loaded with photos of smiling people and McNerney shaking hands with several of them.
McNerney has been a good Representative for the 11th Congressional District and much of what these fliers say is true, or at least true from a Democratic perspective of what constitutes Improvements and Results! So what's wrong with McNerney keeping his constituents informed? Well the small print next to McNerney's Congressional address says "This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense."
So we have a Congressman sending glossy puff pieces about his good deeds mailed to us on our dime, what else is new? Yes I suppose they all do it. Even Republicans, who bellow about Democrats wasting taxpayer money, do it, and that's what's wrong with it.
Our House of Representatives is reelected every two years and Congressmen must start running almost the day after they are elected. So that's why we wind up with Congressmen campaigning at taxpayer's expense.
Last year McNerney ran a smear campaign against the Republican candidate, Dean Andal. TV ads screamed about an Andal Scandal, which makes a nice rhyme, but was completely bogus. Andal was never involved in any scandals and there was no proof that he committed malfeasance of any kind. McNerney didn't need to resort to those tactics to win, but political consultants and partisan politics has sunk to those levels, and now McNerney has too. He's getting a good education in Washington politics, and not for the better.
McNerney started out as a grassroots candidate. He first ran for Representative Richard Pombo's seat in the 11th Congressional District as a write-in candidate for the Democratic Primary. He was tenacious and made it onto the ballot as Pombo's Democratic challenger in 2004. Everyone except McNerney and a hand full of his supporters thought it was a hopeless quest. It was. Pombo was re-elected with nary a thought about McNerney.
McNerney came back again in 2006. This time he ran as a proper candidate in the Democratic primary, but the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backed Steve Filson. The Committee thought Filson would have a better chance of defeating the all-powerful Pombo. McNerney didn't back down and he won the primary. So now the Democrats were stuck with him, but as his poll numbers got better and anti-Bush sentiment grew higher, and some scandals, both real and exaggerated, about Pombo were revealed, McNerney's chances started looking better and better. Then Democrats came out of the woodwork to support him. Even so his victory over Pombo by more than 13,000 votes was considered an upset.
McNerney went to Washington like Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," idealistic and wet behind the ears. Maybe Jimmy wasn't there long enough for his ears to dry, but McNerney is starting to get cozy with the kind of political behaviors that keep the same people in office year after year. That's too bad. Jimmy, tell McNerney to send press releases and black and white, tri-fold mailers about his good deeds and not glossy campaign literature at my (and your) expense.