A former Republican will run as a Democrat for the 4th District congressional seat held by Republican John Doolittle of Rocklin.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charles D. Brown of Roseville has been discussing his intentions for months. He formally announced his candidacy Saturday before a crowd of supporters on the steps of the Roseville Veterans Memorial Building.
Brown said he retains his belief in traditional values and calls himself a fiscal conservative. However, he has criticized the Republican Party and President George W. Bush for moving away from those values, saying the party has been taken over by "extremists."
"Bush and these extremists, like John Doolittle, have led us into the Iraq war, based on lies and deception," Brown writes on his Web site, "Brown for Congress."
"I've seen our rights and protections under the Constitution diminish. Under the current administration in Washington, D.C., the scales have been tipped to favor big business and special interests," the Web site states.
He also criticized Republicans for allowing corporations to "binge" on federal contracts and criticized Doolittle's voting record on veterans' benefits.
Brown's campaign faces an uphill battle against Doolittle, who has held the seat since 1991 with six re-elections.
Doolittle is considered the sixth highest-ranking member of the House of Representatives and serves as secretary of the House Republican Conference. Doolittle also sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee - which writes the annual federal spending bills - and is a deputy whip, one of the people who gets the party's members into chambers for votes.
Recently, Doolittle has supported the intelligent design movement, which seeks to place fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible's creation account on the same level as scientific theories of evolution, especially in public schools.
The congressman has also taken swipes at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which he has said has no accountability. He is unabashed in his wish to have the agency abolished.
Brown dismisses the accountability assertion, saying that each of the 15 Governing Board member are held accountable by their particular city, county or state they represent.
Brown says he believes Lake Tahoe is a regional treasure and he would work in Congress to preserve its beauty and keep its air and water clean. He also said he understands the precarious nature of the area's current economy.
"We know that growth in the western parts of El Dorado and Placer County is causing traffic problems which discourage visitors to the Tahoe area.
"I believe we can find ways to diversify the Tahoe basin's economy and yet maintain its beauty," he said.
While considered primarily a Republican district, the Democratic strongholds in District 4 include South Lake Tahoe, Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee.
Brown said his candidacy will be driven by ideas rather than about party affiliation.
"This isn't about being a Democrat or Republican district. What we have are people who turn off their minds once they hear Democrats and Republicans," he said. "We have to get away from the party labels and pay more attention to individual candidates, what they believe in and how they are going to vote."
Brown graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1972 and served 26 years in the military. During the Vietnam War, he flew jet and helicopter missions in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. In Air Force intelligence after the first Gulf War, he was in charge of scheduling reconnaissance projects over Iraq. Previous to his retirement he was responsible for monitoring worldwide airborne reconnaissance from Beale Air Force Base. He also holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Force's highest honor other than the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Brown earned a master's degree in aviation management from Embry Riddle University. He has been elected to two terms on the Supervisory Committee of the Sierra Central Credit Union and two terms as vice president of the Roseville Police Association. He works in the Roseville Police Department.
Brown and his wife, Jan, have been married for 32 years and have two children.
- Tribune City Editor Jeff Munson contributed to this report
Congressional candidate Charles Brown will be in South Lake Tahoe on Oct. 30 to help with Norma Santiago's 5th District El Dorado County Supervisor campaign. Details will be forthcoming.