Bateson has best chance (though slim) against McClintock

Democrat Regina Bateson is running against Republican Rep. Tom McClintock in California's 4th Congressional District.
Democrat Regina Bateson is running against Republican Rep. Tom McClintock in California's 4th Congressional District. Submitted

Just looking at Tom McClintock’s record, it’s hard to see why voters in California’s sprawling 4th Congressional District adore him so.

Only five of his bills have become law in this Congress. Two of those were to benefit gambling tribes in his district, and the other three were to change the names of two post offices and a mountain. “Sky Point” is a great name, but all his work combined isn’t much to brag about.

Perhaps it’s because he’s a reliable conservative. But if by “conservative” you mean a reliable vote for Donald Trump, then not so much. McClintock voted 85.7 percent for the Trump agenda, going against reauthorizing warrantless spying but in favor of giving officials the ability to read private messages. McClintock even voted against giving additional relief to victims of last year’s hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas.

By comparison, Republicans in neighboring districts were far more aligned with Trump’s agenda. Jeff Denham, in District 10, was aboard the Trump train 97.2 percent of the time while House whip Kevin McCarthy voted against Trump’s wishes exactly once – giving a score of 98.6 percent.

Is it because McClintock’s a mountain man representing a mountain district, reaching from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite and including all or part of Tuolumne, Calaveras, Mariposa and Amador counties? Not really. Neither his D.C. home or his Elk Grove digs are within the actual district. When he’s there, he’s visiting.

Regardless, in a district that Trump polled 53 percent of the votes in 2016 comparison McClintock got 62.7 percent. A lot of people who voted for Hillary Clinton against Trump, voted McClintock.

Still, he has challengers – three to be exact – this June. The top two advance to a runoff in November. Each of the Democrats has an interesting story, but each has some baggage, too.

Voters would be best served by selecting Regina Bateson, who has impressive academic and life achievements and local connections. She grew up in Roseville, on the very edge of the district. She graduated from Stanford then Yale and joined the Foreign Service after 9/11. To run for Congress, she took a leave from MIT where she teaches political science.

We like her support for teachers, her commitment to protecting Medicare and Medi-Cal and desire to stabilize insurance markets. She’ll use science to reduce the impact of forest fires.

Bateson has pledged to do 10 town halls meetings a year. She’ll have to keep up with McClintock. Not only that, but he takes all questions. We don’t like many of his answers, but we admire McClintock’s resolve.

Two other Democrats are in the race. Jessica Morse worked for the State Department, Defense Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, including duty in Iraq, before coming home in 2015. Unfortunately, she embellished her record, claiming she managed half the foreign aid budget and wrote a new U.S.-India defense strategy. Not quite. Still, she has collected more campaign cash than Bateson or even McClintock.

Then there’s Roza Calderon, who came to California as a refugee from El Salvador at age 2, put herself through Sierra College then Humboldt State and has been endorsed by the very, very progressive wing of the party. Her website puts Susan Sarandon and Dolores Huerta among her supporters.

But Calderon faces allegations she embezzled money from Placer Women Democrats, a group she started. She hasn’t been charged and has a plausible explanation for what happened, but sending someone under a legal cloud is risky to the general election is risky.

In this ultra-conservative district, Bateson has the best chance to make it close against McClintock. And if she gets to Congress, we think she’ll have a better chance of actually getting something done.