By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Unbeaten in 10 straight political races and buoyed by his usual large campaign warchest, Rep. Mike Thompson appears headed for re-election to Congress in the Nov. 6 election.
The St. Helena Democrat is running in a new district that stretches from Santa Rosa inland to Vallejo. But like his old coastal district, Democrats enjoy a better than 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in voter registration in the new 5th Congressional District.
His Republican opponent, Randy Loftin, a Napa financial adviser and political newcomer, faces uphill odds overcoming that hurdle with less than $12,000 in contributions and loans compared with $1.65 million in contributions for Thompson.
Thompson, who won three elections and served eight years in the state Senate before stepping up to Capitol Hill in 1998, has won seven congressional races with an average 65 percent of the vote.
A member of the Blue Dogs, a coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats, Thompson said his focus in the next Congress would be “the economy and jobs.”
Investments in infrastructure, renewable energy and education will help “get the economy rolling again,” he said.
Thompson, a Vietnam War combat veteran, also supports strengthening Social Security and Medicare, as well as paying for the rising cost of services for veterans.
“Americans work hard their entire life and they deserve to be able to retire with a certain amount of security,” he said.
At the same time, Thompson said, lawmakers need to “be mindful of the fiscal problems before us” and take steps to balance the budget and pay down the national debt.
Thompson, 61, declined to say how long he intends to serve in Congress but noted power in the House is based on seniority.
“I’m finally getting to the level where I can do good for the district,” he said.
Thompson serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
He finished first in the June primary with 73 percent of the vote.
Loftin placed second with 16 percent, earning a place on the November ballot at the expense of fellow Republican Stewart Cilley of Rohnert Park, who polled 11 percent.
Loftin, 69, also cited jobs and the economy as his top priority, advocating tax code and regulatory overhaul that would “give direction and certainty to the markets.”
“That’s what business needs to move forward,” he said, asserting that less regulation of banking and business would stimulate private enterprise.
The $16 trillion national debt needs to be reduced, Loftin said, before rising interest rates create a “debt crisis” in three to six years. Federal spending should be cut by $400 billion by reducing wasted expenses, consolidating programs and eliminating the Department of Education, he said.
To promote energy independence, Loftin said the nation needs to build new oil refineries, boost oil production on federal lands and allow building of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline from Canada to the United States.
He advocates repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law, replacing it with “market-based” measures to enhance the availability and affordability of health insurance.
Mindful of the Democrats’ dominance among registered voters in the district, Loftin acknowledged he is a longshot to win. “I’m at least 100 to 1,” he said.
The 5th Congressional District includes Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Sonoma Valley, as well as all of Napa County and parts of Lake, Solano and Contra Costa counties.
You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.