DCCC enters Congressional District 11 race

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has entered the contentious race between Democratic nominee Jerry McNerney and GOP Rep. Richard Pombo, signalling that the party’s internal polling may be favorable for the challenger.

An ad funded by the committee starts running today in the Sacramento TV market, according to spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield. The cost won’t be known until the committee posts its expenses on the Federal Election Commission web site, per 24-hour reporting rules. Click here to view the ad.

The spot accuses Pombo of voting to raise his own salary eight times — worth $31,000 — but voted in 2003 against an amendment that would have given troops in Iraq and Afghanistan a $1,500 bonus.

A voiceover then says, “There’s a better choice. Jerry McNerney. An independent businessman committeed to our future.”

Up until now, the DCCC had spent little cash in this district while its Republican counter-part has spent at least $650,000.

From the Pombo campaign office, staffers called both issues bogus.

The House has considered only four direct up or down votes on pay, and they were all to prevent the automatic cost-of-living-increase from going into effect, said staffer Brian Kennedy. Pombo voted to block the increase each time. The votes were on 3/4/93, 6/15/94, 9/8/95 and 7/16/96.

The votes the Democrats cite in the TV ad were procedural shenanigans, Kennedy said, staged to give the impression that the minority party has tried to stop raises while actually never affecting their pay.

A representative’s pay has risen $31,600 to $165,200 since Pombo took office 13 years ago, or an average of $2,430 a year.

On the troop bonus legislation, Kennedy said, the amendment proposed to fund the extra pay with $1 billion from the Iraq reconstruction fund. The U.S. is buying oil from Iraq and those funds are earmarked for rebuilding the war-torn country.

At the time, Kennedy said, commanders in Iraq were telling Congress that reconstruction funding was the top prioriety.

“Every member of Congress would love to give the troops $1 million bonus, let alone $1,500,” Kennedy said. “But the question is whether this was the right source of the funds.”

The bill failed on a 213-213 vote. Pombo was one of 14 Republicans and two Democrats who voted no, including war hero, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania.

Several weeks later, Kennedy said, the House passed legislation that, among other benefits, awarded troops a 4.15 percent average pay raise and extended special pay and bonuses for active duty personnel through December 31, 2004.