By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Rep. Mike Thompson, who is undefeated in 10 straight North Coast political campaigns, announced plans to try for No. 11 on Wednesday by filing for re-election to Congress.
Thompson, 61, who was elected to Congress in 1998, is running in a new inland district that includes Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Sonoma, along with his home base of Napa County and parts of Lake, Solano and Contra Costa counties.
“I’m getting a good reception,” Thompson said, noting that most of his new territory, including Sonoma County, was in the state Senate district he represented from 1990-98. “People stop me on the street.”
A holiday fund-raiser in Santa Rosa in December drew 300 people, he said, and Thompson has a series of Santa Rosa house parties lined up.
The new 5th Congressional District includes 58 percent of Sonoma County’s registered voters. It is Democrat-friendly, with 52 percent of registered voters in that party, compared with 22 percent Republicans and 21 percent independents.
Thompson said he has had bedrock support from Democrats, significant Republican backing and “overwhelming support” from independents.
“I don’t see that changing,” he said in a telephone interview.
Thompson currently represents a coastal congressional district stretching from Windsor to the Oregon border.
In announcing his candidacy for an eighth congressional term, Thompson, a St. Helena resident, said he had endorsements from all seven members of the Santa Rosa City Council and all five Sonoma County supervisors, among with a long list of local elected officials, labor groups and community leaders.
Thompson also has more than $1.3 million in campaign funds, according to the latest Federal Election Commission report.
Last year, he collected nearly $838,000 in campaign contributions, including $477,000 from political action committees and other groups.
Thompson’s experience, funding and lopsided voter registration advantage make him a virtual shoe-in for re-election, said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist.
In what shapes up as “an anti-incumbent year,” McCuan said, Thompson will prevail due to his familiarity with the region’s issues and presumably weak Republican opposition.
Democrats are expected to fall three to six seats short of a majority in the House, but Thompson could be “a deal-maker and a bridge” to the Republicans, McCuan said.
And by donating thousands of dollars to other Democrats, Thompson will “buy more influence” in the chamber, McCuan said.
Thompson said he will continue “to do what I can to elect like-minded Democrats,” but declined to say how much money he would give away.
Thompson, who was then an aide to a Bay Area Democratic assemblywoman, won election to the state Senate in 1990, edging Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen by 1 percent of the vote.
After a second term in Sacramento, Thompson challenged Republican incumbent Frank Riggs for the North Coast congressional seat in 1998.
Riggs dropped out, Thompson won handily and has averaged 65 percent of the vote in a total of seven congressional races.