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Tom McClintock, running for Congress up north, trails in the money race

October 24, 2008 |  9:53 am

State Sen. Tom McClintock, who represents a district that includes parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, says he's confident he'll win his race for a congressional seat east of Sacramento, 400 miles away.

The race is to replace Rep. John Doolittle, who is retiring to fend off investigations. It is California’s only open congressional seat this year that could be in play, and it is tailor-made for Republicans. The GOP leads in registration 47%-31% over Democrats, with 18% decline to state. George Bush won overwhelmingly four years ago, 61%-37%, notes the California Target Book, which tracks state campaigns.Tom_mcclintock 

McClintock is one of the most well-known politicians in the state, perhaps its most well-known conservative. He first won an Assembly race in 1982 and has run four times statewide, including in the 2003 recall race for governor.

But he's not without problems, including that he is a Southern Californian seeking a Sacramento-area seat.

Perhaps most noteworthy, heading into the final three weeks of the campaign, the veteran state politician trailed his Democratic rival, Charlie Brown, in the all-important category -- money.

McClintock faced a tough primary against a less conservative foe, former Rep. Doug Ose. But after raising $2.8 million, McClintock was left with $66,357 in the bank as of Oct. 15, and was not on television.

Brown, a Vietnam War veteran who came close to unseating Doolittle two years ago, has raised $2 million for his race and had $224,795 in the bank for the final three weeks of the campaign.

McClintock is running against Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama, who almost surely will win California in a landslide on Nov. 4.

“As people consider the possibility of an Obama presidency and a Pelosi Congress, we’re seeing a huge surge in our direction,” McClintock said.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sees it differently.

The DCCC has made the race for California’s 4th Congressional District one of its three top-tier campaigns, and spent about $250,000 on television ads and $17,000 on a mailing for Brown.

Through Oct. 15, the Democratic congressional committee had $23.3 million in the bank, after spending $78 million on races nationally. The DCCC has been spending freely since then.

The National Republican Congressional Committee had $12.7 million in the bank as of Oct. 15, after spending $46.3 million.

"We're cautiously optimistic. It is a very close race. Charlie is working 18 hours a day," said Eric Jaye, Brown's campaign strategist. "The reason it is competitive is that Charlie lives in their neighborhood."

--Dan Morain

Photo credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press