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Photograph by George Sakkestad

Hearts and Minds: The race for the 15th Congressional District seat, which represents the district from San Jose to Scott's Valley, has been the target of a costly battle between Republicans who want to maintain their house majority and Democrats who want to take it away. Both Democratic candidate Mike Honda (right) and Republican candidate Jim Cunneen (far left) have tried to woo the support of the valley's high-tech elite.

The Big Picture

As election day nears, polls show that more hangs in the balance than many voters think

PICTURE THIS with your eyes wide open: A Republican in the White House. A Republican-controlled House. A Republican-controlled Senate. A Republican-led Congress rubber-stamping the GOP president's anti-abortion Supreme Court nominees.

And this is no campy Halloween horror flick--it's closer to reality than many voters think. If nationwide polls are to be believed, George W. Bush will soon be the nation's Fratboy-in-chief. Meanwhile, the GOP will, according to most predictions, easily retain its majority in the U.S. Senate. Only the House of Representatives is potentially up for grabs, but only if democrats can win six seats nationally.

Unlike recent elections in California, there is no perceived racist, homophobic or xenophobic proposition mobilizing the Democratic base here. And Vice President Al Gore, wife-kissing aside, has been unable to whip voters into any kind of impassioned frenzy. Here in California, where Gore once held a double digit lead, the latest polls show Green Party nominee Ralph Nader siphoning support from the vice president, who now only leads Bush by five points.

An apathetic electorate, a dull Democratic nominee and an insurgent third-party candidate--it's a recipe for imbalance and disaster.

To those contemplating voting for Nader, we think this is too close an election to throw away a vote on a symbolic candidate. We can already hear Naderites preaching the lefty party line: It doesn't matter if you vote for Gore or Bush because they are both from the same party--the Party of Big Business. While there's plenty of truth to that, Bush and Gore have very different positions on a woman's right to choose, school vouchers, health care, tax policy, social security and campaign finance reform, which Gore has promised to make his top priority if elected.

Eight years--and more, counting lifetime Supreme Court appointments--is a long time to endure the fallout of a "protest" vote, especially when Republicans want to maintain the surplus by returning money to the rich rather than paying down the nation's debt.

We think voters should pay close attention this election, and make every attempt to balance the branches of government at the national level. At the state, regional and local levels, they should vote for those who will safeguard the environment and protect the interests of Silicon Valley. Here are our recommendations for how that can best be achieved.


State & Regional Offices: Metro's recommendations on local races.

Seeking Council: Four open seats behind the dais at North First signals an opportunity for change in San Jose.


National Offices

U.S. House of Representatives 15th District
Mike Honda

We like Mike. And those three words may be enough to make some Republicans stop reading right here. After all, the race between Democratic Assemblyman Mike Honda and Republican Assemblyman Jim Cunneen for this pivotal seat in Congress isn't really coming down to personality and performance--it's coming down to party and, specifically, which one voters want to see control the U.S. House of Representatives.

The seat for the 15th Congressional District, which spans San Jose to Scotts Valley, is viewed by many political observers as a solid chance for Democrats to regain control of the House, which many feel resembles a federal institution for psychologically challenged Republicans at this point. Witness the impeachment hearings of 1998, enthusiastically supported by the soon to be ex-congressman from this Northern California district: Tom Campbell.

This year, with Campbell bailing out of the House (and seeking to unseat Dianne Feinstein for Senate), Demos are eager to reclaim the territory once watched over by Norman Y. Mineta, who became disgusted with the Republican majority and left for a job at Lockheed midterm in 1995.

It's no coincidence that Honda has the backing of Mineta, also a Japanese-American who served this district with strong labor and ethnic support.

We don't dislike high tech hero Jim Cunneen. We think he's a bright Republican and a capable legislator who would probably stand up against Republican wackos if Silicon Valley interests were on the line.

Honda, on the other hand, can be counted on to watch out for little guys and big guys alike. A longtime area Demo, Honda has worked his way up through the ranks from school board to county supervisor to assemblyman. He speaks Spanish, cares about the environment and is a politician who we think understands the diverse needs of this wildly configured district.

While local Democratic Congressional incumbents Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo are expected to retain their seats (and we encourage voters to help them), the Honda-Cunneen race is too close to call. Control of Congress depends on this seat. Think of the big picture. Vote for Mike Honda.

U.S. Senate
Dianne Feinstein

During the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, Rep. Tom Campbell (R-San Jose)--who was shut out by his own party at the Republican convention--had a prominent speaking role. Not at the "real" convention in La La Land, but at Arianna Huffington's alternative Shadow Convention. To a crowd of professional protesters and malcontents, Campbell spoke passionately about the country's misguided war against drugs.

Valley voters already know Tom Campbell as an enigma. In 1997, he defied his party's leaders by voting to oust then­House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The following year, he toed the party line by voting to impeach President Clinton, angering many of his Starr-fatigued constituents.

For a Republican, Campbell's run an unorthodox campaign against Democratic incumbent Dianne Feinstein--he has, to a great extent, run to her political left.

The top question in our minds is (assuming Campbell gets elected), which Campbell will show up at the Senate confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court Justice: the party boy who impeached Clinton or the party pooper who told Newt to get lost? Hard to say. In typical Tom fashion, he refuses to prejudge nominees or apply a litmus test. While we think Campbell will raise controversial issues worthy of debate that an inside-the-box politician like Feinstein would never touch, he may be a little too quirky, even in an age of empty, blow-dried politics and politicians.

While we wish Feinstein would have the guts to raise the issue of the failed drug war, we like her record on gun control and the environment. Stick with Feinstein.

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From the October 26-November 1, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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