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August 11, 2008

McClintock's Three-Fer

Tom McClintock could be California Republicans' next great hope, and he apparently knows it. The State Senator, who is running to replace retiring Rep. John Doolittle in the Sacramento-based Fourth District, has come closer than most Republicans in an increasingly blue state to actually winning elective office, and he already has his eyes set on bigger goals.

Having run statewide four times and lost is usually a career-killer for a politician. But McClintock, who lost by 2% in a Controller's race in 1994, lost by less than half a percent for the same office in 2002, came in third in the 2006 governor's recall and lost by just 4% for Lieutenant Governor in 2006, isn't done yet. Instead, he's become something of a symbol among anti-tax activists in the Golden State, and earlier this year he defeated a heavy-spending former member of Congress to capture the GOP nominee.

But while Congress might be a nice stop along the way -- McClintock is the favorite over 2006 Democratic nominee Charlie Brown -- it may not be the end of his ambition. According to filings with the California Secretary of State, McClintock has three open campaign committees along with his congressional account.

That's not terribly unusual; Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain maintained their Senate campaign accounts, for example, even during their presidential bids. McClintock still has his State Senate account open, with $14,000 in the bank. No one gave to the committee in the last six months.

But what is unusual is that McClintock still has a campaign account open for an office he doesn't hold, much less two. McClintock has a committee that could fund an eventual race for governor, Tax Fighters for Tom, that remains active, though which hasn't filed any reports. His campaign for Board of Equalization, which administers the tax code, though, is doing just fine. McClintock had about $120,000 in the bank through the June 30 reporting deadline, having raised $32,000 in the last six months.

McClintock isn't soliciting the funds, he told The Union of Nevada County a few weeks ago. And $32,000 is a drop in the bucket compared with the almost $1.6 million he's raised for his Congressional campaign so far. But McClintock is staying prepared, and if he loses to Brown, he can always return home and run for the Board of Equalization post, which will be open in 2010 thanks to term limits.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is taking notice of the filings, and they're protecting their own investment as well. The party has reserved just over $1 million in advertising time on Brown's behalf, two years after he came just three points away from beating the scandal-tainted Doolittle.