- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California’s most heated congressional campaign seems to be a blueprint for the traditional Republican Party schism between die-hard conservatism and a more business-oriented pragmatism.

The campaign pits state Sen. Tom McClintock, running on his conservative credentials, against former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, a Sacramento real estate businessman.

The two are competing for the Republican nomination in Northern California’s 4th Congressional District in Tuesday’s primary election. It’s the seat now held by Republican Rep. John Doolittle, who is retiring as he is being investigated in an influence-peddling scandal.

“Who do you trust to uphold the conservative principles and values of the people of our district?” Mr. McClintock asked Wednesday during the candidates’ final debate.

“This isn’t philosophical for me,” Mr. Ose countered. “I know how to make stuff happen, how to create wealth, create jobs, create investment.”

Mr. McClintock, 51, is a lifelong politician who is being forced from his Southern California state Senate seat by term limits. He entered the race with a name-recognition advantage - he has run unsuccessfully for statewide office four times, including in the 2003 gubernatorial recall. He is a darling of state conservatives, known for his unyielding opposition to tax increases of any kind.

Mr. Ose, 52, who represented the neighboring 3rd Congressional District for three terms before leaving in 2003 on a term-limits pledge, has spent more than $2 million of his own money trying to tarnish his opponent as a carpetbagger - and worse.

As soon as Mr. McClintock announced his candidacy in March, Mr. Ose began running ads accusing him of shopping for a district because his term is over. He also criticized Mr. McClintock for accepting a legislative per diem even though he lives year-round within a quick commute of the capital.

Mr. McClintock defended his acceptance of the per diem as perfectly legal. He accused Mr. Ose of trying to buy his way into Congress and repeatedly branded him as liberal on issues such as illegal immigration.

During the final debate, Mr. McClintock accused Mr. Ose of taking money from Jack Abramoff, the jailed Republican lobbyist whose ties to Mr. Doolittle are forcing the incumbent into retirement. Mr. Ose’s spokesman said later that Mr. Ose had never met Abramoff and gave the $1,000 donation to charity.

Late in the campaign, Mr. Ose staged a press conference with former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who accused Mr. McClintock of being impossible to work with as a state legislator and stymieing the efforts of fellow Republicans.

Mr. McClintock embraced the criticism from the more moderate Mr. Wilson and accused him of raising taxes.

The winner of the Ose-McClintock contest likely will compete in November against Democrat Charlie Brown, who is facing little-known Democrat John “Wolf” Wolfgram in the primary. Mr. Wolfgram identifies himself as a constitutional advocate and writer.

Mr. Brown, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, came close to beating Mr. Doolittle in the 2006 general election despite the heavy Republican registration edge.

The conservative district stretches from Sacramento’s suburbs north to Oregon and east to Nevada.

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