Of all the oddities to emerge from this year’s election carnival, the “Republicans for Charlie Brown” stand out. Led by Joanne Neft, 71, the group is backing Brown, the Democratic candidate in California’s 4th District, and fighting hard to unseat Republican incumbent John Doolittle. In a brief profile, the AP noted her “status as a longtime Republican,” and that she has “changed her allegiance this year.” Neft has also popped up in the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle painted her as a possible trend-setter, a lifelong Republican attempting to turn the tide against her party’s candidate. But this narrative is terribly disingenuous, as Neft’s ties to the Democrats are nothing new, nor her objection to Doolittle anything novel. In 2002 the Scripps-McClatchy News Service covered how an organization she led, whose object was to secure Doolittle’s defeat in the Republican primary, was financed primarily by Democratic donors and a local union affiliate. “I could understand if this were a group of disaffected Republicans,” David Lopez, then Doolittle’s chief of staff, said. “But it’s not.” Sound familiar? Whether or not Neft was intending to undermine Republican chances in that election, her ties to Democrats remain quite clear, and substantial. One wonders, then, why the media has been so quick to pick up on her story as that of the rare, brave pragmatist, when but a little research would show her to be trumping a qualification she has little claim to. Consider now the bipartite drake test: If she looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck . . .
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