The general election contest featured a clear contrast between Jerry McNerney, a wind energy executive vs. Richard Pombo, the zealous defender of oil companies.
Up until 2006, Pombo was considered invulnerable by political analysts who thought the concept of a liberal Democrat beating a Republican in a largely rural district was absurd. There was one major difference between the 2004 race where Pombo received 61% of the vote and the 2006 election. In 2006, the Sierra Club spent $400,000 on TV ads blanketing the district and the League of Conservation Voters tossed in additional funds for radio and TV ads (Ebell 2006). The group that played the largest role in Pombo’s demise was Defenders of Wildlife, which created a two pronged attack: one front involved television attacks on Pombo and the other front featured an aggressive voter outreach.
Defenders of Wildlife created a website called “Pombo in their pocket,” which portrayed the congressman as an out of touch legislator who was more concerned with lobbyists than with his own constituents. They also bought a 30 foot RV which trailed the Congressman throughout the district – passing out literature to interested voters (Eilperin 2006).
To the surprise of many political observers, including some in the environmental community, on November 7th 2006, Jerry McNerney defeated Rep. Richard Pombo by a 53%-47% margin.
What about Knollenberg?
Rep. Joe Knollenberg won reelection with just 51% of the vote against Nancy Skinner, a carpetbagger who won only 1% of the vote in the 2004 Illinois Senate Democratic primary. Knollenberg is a strong candidate to become th next Phillip Crane or George Gekas. His skills as a candidate are rusty and his district is moving Democratic. All we need is a good candidate and DCCC help.
A concerted effort by enviro groups like the LCV could help defeat. Here’s why the enviros should target him. Knollenberg is one of the leaders in the movement against raising CAFE standards. His intransigent position is slowing down effort to curb global warming. Defeating him with be good for Democrats, America and the Planet.