North Coast congressional candidates stake out their views

Rep. Mike Thompson, seeking his seventh term representing the North Coast in Congress, said he doesn't "ever take anything for granted."

But with his fellow House Democrats certain to take a drubbing in Tuesday's election, Thompson — with buckets of cash and broad appeal in the sprawling district — seems a lock on the job he's held since 1998.

"He doesn't even need a campaign," said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political science professor.

The 1st Congressional District, which reaches from Windsor to the Oregon border, used to be a swing district, switching parties five times from 1988 to 1998.

But when Thompson, a former state senator, made his first run for the House, incumbent Republican Frank Riggs dropped out of the 1998 race.

Thompson, 59, has won six straight elections with an average majority vote of 66 percent from a district in which voter registration tilts 46 percent Democrat to 26 percent Republican.

Loren Hanks, 44, an Air Force Reserve officer and political newcomer, is the Republican challenger, with just over $83,000 in campaign funds, mostly from individual donations.

Thompson reported a $1.7 million campaign war chest, evenly split between individual and political action committee contributions.

Green candidate Carol Wolman, 69, a Mendocino psychiatrist, and Libertarian Mike Rodrigues, 57, a Napa entrepreneur, are also on the ballot.

Thompson, a Vietnam combat veteran, has made multiple trips to Afghanistan and Iraq as chairman of a House Intelligence subcommittee, working largely in secret due to its subject matter.

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