Grossman Says Farr Enough
Why is tough-talking Joe Grossman bad mouthing nice-guy Congressman Sam Farr?
Thursday, March 2, 2000
The 2000 Primary
Joe Grossman doesn''t understand Sam Farr. He doesn''t understand why Farr voted for NAFTA. He doesn''t understand why Farr hasn''t come out in support of striking Teamsters at Basic Vegetable Products in King City. He doesn''t understand why Farr owns stock in major corporations that he, as a member of Congress, participates in regulating. And he doesn''t understand why Farr isn''t running anything that approaches the level of a "campaign" to keep his job in Washington, DC.
"The reason I am running is because Sam Farr has been defective in a number of areas. Sam Farr has voted against the values he claims to hold."
So what makes the unapologetically progressive Grossman--a retired social worker/teacher and cable-access TV show host from unapologetically progressive Santa Cruz who lost a Board of Supervisors race in 1994--think he can unseat Sam Farr, an incumbent so entrenched that he, in fact, isn''t running anything that approaches the level of a "campaign" to keep his job in Washington, DC?
Sure, Grossman would like to win. So would the two other Democrats, the three Republicans, the Green Party candidate, the Libertarian Party candidate, the Natural Law candidate and the Reform Party candidate who will be on the March 7 primary ballot. None of them, however, have a realistic chance of beating Farr, a four-term incumbent and chair of the California Congressional Delegation who the League of Conservation Voters considers an "Environmental Hero."
But more than any of the other nine challengers, Grossman is campaigning as though he has a chance of winning. You can see his red-white-and-blue signs around town. You can see his guest columns and ads in smaller publications throughout the Central Coast. Reporters know all about him, having received a good half-inch worth of position papers, press releases and Sam Farr hit-pieces since he announced his candidacy last October.
Like the solid progressive he is, Grossman''s big issues are improving farmworker health and housing, valuing "fair" trade over "free" trade, encouraging a more human rights-oriented foreign policy, and supporting the rights and goals of organized labor. On these issues, Grossman won''t tolerate any deviation. "We must protect the hard-won environmental gains that have been legislated in America."
On paper, Farr seems to care about most of the same things. He brought the first-ever National Oceans Conference to Monterey and introduced the Oceans Act of 1998. He''s asked the Justice Department to investigate monopolistic practices of produce buyers that drive down farm prices. He has a 94 percent voting record on labor issues spanning his two decades in elected office (including 12 years in the state Assembly). And, despite substantial viewpoints to the contrary--including, naturally, from Grossman--Farr says he''s done a good job with the cleanup and conversion of the former Fort Ord.
"There is a group of people who would like to see us do nothing," Farr says of Fort Ord. "I work on this issue every day. We''ve converted a lot of it."
Grossman may lose but not without making Farr, one of California''s most firmly incumbent Congress members, squirm a little bit. Fortunately for Farr, the other nine candidates aren''t making him sweat all that much. Here they are:
-- Democrats Art Dunn of Monterey, who owns a telephone answering service company; and Debra Whitmore of Aptos, a high school teacher.
-- Republicans Carole Dooley of Carmel, a management consultant; Clint Engler of Salinas, a general contractor; and Rob Roberts of Salinas, a home health care worker.
-- Green Party candidate E. Craig Coffin of Pacific Grove, a gardener.
-- Libertarian Party candidate Rick Garrett of Aptos, a travel agent.
-- Natural Law Party candidate Scott Hartley of La Selva Beach, a software developer.
-- Reform Party candidate Larry Fenton of Seaside, a journeyman ironworker.
Of these nine candidates, Coffin (Congress and state Senate), Dunn (Congress, eight times), Garrett (Congress), Hartley (Congress and state Senate) and Roberts (Salinas mayor) have prior electoral experience.