Three-way tie for last

Doris Matsui.

Doris Matsui.

It’s after Labor Day, and the political season begins in earnest. You’ll be seeing a lot in this space and elsewhere in the News & Review media empire about local political races. Starting with the contest—if you can call it that—for U.S. Congress in California’s 5th District.

In this corner, Doris Matsui, heir to perhaps the safest Democratic seat in the country. In the other corners, a Republican, a Peace and Freedom Party member and an independent who couldn’t get on the ballot. Chances are Matsui takes 70-plus percent of the vote.

A few weeks ago, Bites visited with Dave Lynch, guitar hero and independent, who was angered that Matsui wouldn’t support Rep. Dennis Kucinich‘s articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush (see “Meet Dave,” SN&R Bites, July 10.)

Without the official backing of a recognized political party, or a ton of cash, getting on the ballot is near impossible. He would have needed 8,500 signatures, which proved to be out of his reach. He’s continuing his campaign as a write-in candidate ( But he’s got a lot of competition.

Back in 2006, the Republicans put up a 25-year-old law student named Claire Yan to run against Matsui. Yan barely campaigned at all, and pretty much gave up completely at the end of that summer to start law school at UC Berkeley. Still, she got 26 percent of the vote, just for having a big “R” next to her name.

That’s an embarrassment, says Paul Smith, a Carmichael mortgage broker who snagged the GOP nomination just by asking for it. “I’ve not only got to fight the Democrats, I’ve got to fight my own party just to get someone to pay attention,” Smith griped.

Smith is confident he can give Matsui a run for her (ridiculous amount of) money. “I’m the first one to really go after Doris.” He plans on hammering Matsui on the subject of earmarks and budgetary pork. He’s also calling for the immediate commencement of offshore oil drilling and for promptly sending Iraq a bill for services rendered. “I agreed to take out Saddam Hussein, not to rebuilding their country at the expense of ours.” Bites doubts Smith will get many chances, but he says he’s itching for a public debate. “When you get her out there without a script, she’s in deep trouble. I’ll dust the floor with her.” Sure, usually you try and mop the floor with your opponents, but Matsui’s a sweet old lady, and we don’t need anyone to get hurt. (Check out Smith’s Web site at

Next up is L.R. “Linda” Roberts, who is the official nominee of both the Peace and Freedom Party and the Green Party. Both those parties combined for a little more than 5 percent of the vote against Doris in 2006.

Like Lynch, Roberts says Matsui is out of step with her constituents on the war and on the subject of impeachment. Add to that tepid or no support for progressive causes like single-payer health care. “Doris and her staff do wonderful constituent services. They’re generally really nice when you go in to her office,” said Roberts. Even when they’re calling the cops on you for having a sit-in to protest the war. “But there’s a time to stand up. There’s a time to be a person of courage.”

Sacramento, after all, has a living-wage ordinance on the books. It passed an anti-war resolution. “It’s an unspeakably safe seat for her. She could be insane, she could be dead, and she’d still get elected.” said Roberts.

Better yet, Matsui could take advantage of her safe seat to shake things up. “Paul Smith doesn’t stand a chance. I don’t stand a chance. Doris could be staggeringly courageous, and she’d still get elected.”