For months, political operatives have been acting as though Doolittle’s retirement is a foregone conclusion due to a series of ethics questions that continue to dog him.
Two members of the Republican House leadership pointedly refused to endorse him earlier this week and several serious primary challengers have already emerged.
Doolittle as the Republican nominee also virtually assures that 2006 Democratic nominee Charlie Brown will be the next Congressman from the 4th District, despite the seat’s underlying Republicanism.
Brown was little known and underfunded in 2006 — a problem he won’t have next November assuming Doolittle is on the ballot.
And even better:
Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., denounced his GOP critics as “weasels” Friday even as his chief of staff appeared before a federal grand jury investigating Doolittle’s ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Doolittle also told reporters on a conference call Friday that he believes the Justice Department’s long-running probe “borders on harassment.”
Prosecutors are investigating connections between Doolittle and Abramoff including payments that Doolittle’s wife, Julie, got from Abramoff even after a fundraiser she was paid to plan got canceled.
Doolittle’s chief of staff, Ron Rogers, spent an hour and 20 minutes before a federal grand jury at U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Friday. His appearance came two days after Doolittle’s scheduler and deputy chief of staff appeared before the same grand jury.
The nine-term incumbent is facing several potential primary opponents but he said Friday that he looks forward to the fight, even in the face of growing unease from party activists and leaders about his re-election chances.
Doolittle was re-elected by a slim three-percentage-point margin last year even though his district is among the most conservative in California. Charlie Brown, the Democrat who challenged Doolittle last year, formally announced his candidacy for a rematch Friday and already leads the incumbent in fundraising.
Okay, all together now:
There! That felt good, didn’t it?