Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jim Patterson, Ex-Fresno Mayor, to Seek Election to 19th Congressional Seat

Former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson is expected to contest the 2010 GOP primary from California's 19th congressional district. It turns out that Representative George Radanovich, who has held the seat since the Republican earthquake of '94, is retiring. Patterson is expected to run against Radanovich's hand-picked candidate, State Senator Jeff Denham.

Hotline On Call has the report:
One source said Radanovich will back state Sen. Jeff Denham (R) as his replacement. CA Senate districts are actually larger than congressional districts, though Denham's is more closely related to Rep. Dennis Cardoza's (D) neighboring 18th district. Top GOPers had tried to convince Denham to run against Cardoza, though Radanovich's district has a stronger GOP lean.
But Denham is unlikely to get a clean shot at the seat. Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson (R), who had backing from the Club for Growth during his '02 primary against now-Rep. Devin Nunes (R), is also likely to run. One source even suggested that ex-Rep. Richard Pombo (R), who lost his neighboring 11th district to Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) in '06, may be a potential contender as well.
I'm focusing on Mayor Patterson since I'm fairly well-acquainted with him. We attended Fresno State together, both graduating in 1992. He's a super intelligent man with a business background in Christian radio. Although Hotline On Call doesn't mention it, I suspect Patterson is even more conservative than the incumbent. The California Central Valley's been a hotbed of tea party activism this year, and the water crisis has been hammering farmers. Apparently, Radanovich favors the San Joaquin River restoration project, a major Central Valley environmental initiative which is opposed by area farmers. And a recent Miami Herald piece reports that Patterson had signaled his intent to challenge Radanovich in the primary. That, combines with wife Ethie Radanovich health questions, moved the 9th-term congressman to call it quits. According to the Herald's report:
Republicans in California's San Joaquin Valley are girding for a potential intramural clash pitting former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson against incumbent Rep. George Radanovich of Mariposa.

Though Patterson has made no official campaign announcement, Republican and Democratic circles alike are abuzz with anticipation that he will declare his candidacy in early January. Privately, some Valley political activists say they have already been assured Patterson will challenge Radanovich.

"It's certainly going to be an interesting race if he does run," prominent Republican and Fresno Lincoln Club president Michael Der Manouel Jr. noted, though he stressed that no decision can be counted as final until candidacy papers are filed.

Patterson insisted Wednesday that he is still undecided, though he acknowledged he has been "testing the waters up and down the district." Tellingly, he added that he has no interest in running for an open seat in the state Legislature.

"I think I am suited best to be in Congress and that is where I'd love to serve in these times," Patterson said.

A primary race between Radanovich and Patterson would instantly become one of the most closely watched in California, if not the nation. It would likely become expensive, forcing campaign contributors to either choose sides or hedge their bets.

A GOP primary also would almost certainly select the next congressman from the 19th Congressional District. Republicans enjoy a commanding 44-37 percent voter registration advantage in the district, which sweeps through all or part of Fresno, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties.
Patterson's extremely ambitious. Folks mentioned his name for a congressional seat back in the early '90s, before he left the mayor's office. He's apparently a big fundraiser as well, with the support of the local business sector and Club-for-Growth activists. I imagine that State Senator Denham's going to have his hands full.

Hat Tip: Memeorandum.


Law and Order Teacher said...

It sounds as though Patterson may be the choice. My question is since McCain won that district rather comfortably would he be the pick for conservatives in the race? I'm all for true conservatives winning and if this is the case is this a good win?