McCloskey bucks GOP, backs Democrat

Associated Press
Date: 07-24-06

WASHINGTON - Maverick former GOP Rep. Pete McCloskey took on his party's establishment - and lost. But he's not done yet.

McCloskey, 78, failed in his primary challenge to Rep. Richard Pombo (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., chairman of the powerful House Resources Committee. Now he's planning to urge Northern California voters who backed him to support Pombo's Democratic opponent, wind engineer Jerry McNerney, in November.

In June, McCloskey won 32 percent of the Republican primary vote to 62 percent for Pombo.

McNerney is "an honorable man that has not and will not seek to enrich himself and his family through his office," McCloskey said in an interview.

His support for Democrats doesn't stop with McNerney.

McCloskey, who served in Congress from 1967 to 1982 and was an original author of the Endangered Species Act, said he'd like to see his party lose control of the House.

"It's essentially the need for legislative oversight - an obligation of Congress under the Constitution which has not been exercised by the Republican House," he said. "Hence, a Republican reluctantly finds himself in the belief that the opposing party should have a majority for, say, the next two years."

Throughout the primary Pombo aides dismissed McCloskey as a Democratic Party tool. They said they weren't surprised by his endorsement of McNerney and that it wouldn't make any difference.


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