John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Getting Back to the Majority

Posted on December 24, 2009

Getting Back to the Majority



Almost sixteen years ago, in California's 36th Congressional District Republican Susan Brooks lost by 812 votes to Democrat Jane Harman, with absentees providing the margin of victory.

After the election, Brooks campaign compiled a detailed list of more than 2,000 apparently invalid votes. As Reader's Digest put it, ''findings indicated that of 5,292 absentee ballots from 20 Venice precincts that went overwhelmingly for Harman, 1,337 (26 per cent) had been cast by voters whose addresses on the rolls turned out to be abandoned homes, empty apartments, vacant lots.''

While Susan Brooks decided not to challenge the results in the courtroom, and ended up losing in a rematch the following election, one thing is clear.  In a wave election, Jane Harman is vulnerable.

Harman, who has been rumored to be up for the job of Ambassador to Israel, is definitely vulnerable this year.  She has lost her clout in a nasty fight with Speaker Pelosi, she has lost touch with her district, and she has several questionable business deals that will certainly make an appearance in the coming campaign.

It just requires that the Republicans get their act together and nominate the right person to take Ms. Harman on.

They seemed to be headed in the right direction by clearing the field for Mattie Fein, an impressive candidate who has the backing of several members of the California delegation, including George Radanovich and Wally Herger.

There was some confusion, when Congressman Dana Rohrabacher seemingly endorsed both Fein and Peter Kesterton, a Merrill Lynch financial advisor.  Kesterton is a controversial figure who has declared bankruptcy twice and who was asked to step down from the Finance Committee of the Redondo Beach, California City Council.

Yesterday, Rohrabacher cleared up the confusion by unambiguously endorsing Fein.  In a letter, he said, “I enthusiastically endorse Mattie Fein for Congress...Mattie Fein is a strong fiscal conservative who believes in limited government, low taxation and real job creation through private enterprise…I urge everyone to support Mattie Fein for Congress.”

With that key endorsement, Fein seems to be in a strong position to take on Harman and possibly take back a seat that should have turned Republican in 1994, had in not been for an aggressive and questionable absentee program all those years ago.

Rohrabacher’s statement last night was a step in the right direction for a big election night next November.