Conlon in uphill battle in 12th Congressional District
By Ben van der Meer
Delegate Greg Conlon is frank about his status as a Republican congressional candidate on the Bay Area peninsula, the heart of Democratic territory: "It's lonely."
Conlon, an Atherton resident who's attending this week's Republican National Convention as a guest, is hoping to run a credible challenge in California's 12th Congressional District against recently-elected U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough).
That's an achievable goal, said Conlon, who through polling of his own discovered that two-thirds of the residents in the district that encompasses part of San Francisco and much of San Mateo County define themselves as moderates or conservatives.
Those residents also want to see tax cuts passed under President Bush extended indefinitely and more progress on nuclear energy as a way of reducing foreign oil dependence.
Conlon said he's adopted those positions, along with balancing the budget without tax raises and leaving Iraq when it's prudent. He's also hoping he can use a team of volunteers affiliated with U.S. Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign to knock on doors in the district with him.
But winning is a long shot, said Conlon, who lost a statewide race for treasurer in 2002 to Democrat Phil Angelides.
"For me to have any chance of winning, McCain has to not only win the state, but my district," Conlon said. "Arnold (Schwarzenegger) won it. It's not easy, but it's possible."
Conlon said the California GOP needs to take two steps to become more competitive with majority Democrats in California: Pay a chairman a full-time salary, and support down-ballot candidates for statewide races.
In 2006, he said, donating $1 million to the GOP candidates for Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and Controller would've helped those Republicans win.
"There's a lack of a bench, and it's not that expensive to support one," he said.
Conlon said he's hoping Speier, who won a special election for the seat earlier this year against Conlon and three other candidates after U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) died of cancer, will agree to debates.
If she doesn't, Conlon will inform voters by e-mail. And he's planning to make a personal appearance as well.
"I'm personally going to ring 5,000 to 10,000 doorbells in the next eight weeks," he said.