Pimlico Kid rides into sunset

We won't be able to produce a column-length article about the forced retirement of Rep Dennis Cardoza, Pimlico Kid - -Merced, aka Shrimp Slayer. We admire the verbosity of the McClatchy Chain editorialists while noting that what they are saying -- as most of what Cardoza has said throughout his career -- is not true. Perhaps, the McClatchy Co. in this instance agrees with Badlands -- "Good riddance." Cardoza, the former lady mud wrestling impresario, could not beg, borrow or steal enough respectability to edify his political career in this McClatchy dominated zone.
We'll just skim a few of the whoppers that arose to the surface of the dairy pond.

"I love the people of the Central Valley, and thank them for the confidence they have placed in me," Cardoza said in a statement. "While I plan to retire from public service...I will energetically continue my efforts to improve California as a private citizen."

He loves us so well he refuses to acknowledge those of us he does know and avoids every opportunity he can to meet with the public. Cardoza is strictly a special interest kind of guy. His view of improving California probably involves lobbying for Westside water interests and doing whatever he can to reinflate the housing bubble. He loves the people of the Valley so well that he moved his family to Maryland so that he could love us better from a distance, the heart growing fonder with absense and all. Cardoza's fortunes, like all members of Congress, rose while in office, in his case exactly at the moment the fortunes of his constituents crashed. Rather than staying with his district in its financial agony, he moved to Maryland and bought racehorses.
And what politician in this region, one of the nation's premier capitals of per capita foreclosure rates, did more to create the perfect crash, by working tirelessly behind closed doors to bring UC to Merced as the anchor tenant for the greatest, most ruinous building boom the region has ever known.

"The constant focus on 'screamers' and the 'horse race' of elections is smothering useful discourse and meaningful debate of public policy," Cardoza said, adding that he was "disappointed by the broadcast media's general lack of attention to moderate members of Congress."

Cardoza is a bully by nature. When backed by a roomful of Westside growers and two other Portuguese congressmen, Jim Costa and Devin Nunes, Cardoza screamed at newly appointed Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar two years ago. At other times, when more evenly matched, Cardoza is a coward. On whatever side he's playing, the same thing shows: lack of character and lack of brains. During the height of the real estate boom, he strolled arm-in-arm with former Rep. Richard Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy, out of a lunch at developer Fritz Grupe's Lodi ranch, counting his money and talking about the need for more bipartisan work for "growth," which he could not distinguish from bubble-built-on -mortgage-fraud. The mention of "the 'horse race' of elections" is another manifestation of the general stupidity of the congressman who owns racehorses.
The McClatchy editorial mind is now calling Cardoza a "moderate." Initiating three bills to gut the Endangered Species Act is moderate? But, it doesn't come from that. McClatchy and Cardoza (and Costa) are loathe to mention the Blue Dog Coalition, considered "moderate Democrats" because they had no principles at all and were available to cross the aisle and betray their party whenever they thought there might me an advantage. Thses neo-Dixiecrats were almost obliterated in 2010.

The Northern San Joaquin Valley has been generally well served over the past 20 years by Dennis Cardoza -- first in local office, then in the Legislature and for the past eight-plus years in Congress.

Cardoza served the special interests of his district, corporations that do not give a damn about the constituents of this, that or any other congressional district. The member of Congress who served us best was Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who urged people to stand up against the banks and stay in their homes. All we heard from Cardoza was petulent whining, mainly against the Obama administration.

He and others have consistently tried -- unsuccessfully so far -- to get President Barack Obama to visit the Valley ...

But, when First Lady Michelle Obama presided over a UC Merced graduation ceremony, Cardoza was not there. First he lied, saying he had personal and family business to attend to. Later, it was revealed he had been hosting the Blue Dog Bash at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore at the running of the Preakness. Snubbing the Black wife of the first Black president to attend a horse race in Baltimore has probably cost the Valley tens of millions in federal aid. But there was never any evidence that Cardoza cared any more for the unemployed and foreclosed upon than he cared for any other endangered species.
We are exhausted less than halfway through the line of journalist gum drops about Cardoza. But you get the general idea: Good riddance.
Maybe, just maybe, through some unforeseen fluke or pure accident, we may do a little better next time. But, don't count on it. Cardoza wasn't unique in any way, except perhaps for his arrogant and unctious hypocrisy.
Badlands Journal editorial board

Merced Sun-Star
Congressman Cardoza announces his retirement at the end of 2012…
Michael Doyle
WASHINGTON -- The newly announced retirement of Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, culminates a San Joaquin Valley political career built from the ground up.
On Thursday, the former Capitol Hill intern and one-time Atwater city councilman revealed he will step down from the House at the end of 2012. The departure avoids a primary battle with his longtime friend, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, in a newly redrawn congressional district.
"I love the people of the Central Valley, and thank them for the confidence they have placed in me," Cardoza said in a statement. "While I plan to retire from public service...I will energetically continue my efforts to improve California as a private citizen."
But in giving up a job he first won when he unseated a former boss in 2002, Cardoza is also departing the frustrations of a Congress where his fellow moderates have faltered and partisan zeal prevails.
"The constant focus on 'screamers' and the 'horse race' of elections is smothering useful discourse and meaningful debate of public policy," Cardoza said, adding that he was "disappointed by the broadcast media's general lack of attention to moderate members of Congress."
Cardoza was traveling cross-country to California on Thursday and unavailable for further comment.
The veteran politician did not specify his career plans once he leaves the House of Representatives and its $174,000 annual salary. He and his wife Kathleen McLoughlin, a physician, currently live in a new, 4,130-square foot house on two acres in rural Maryland; they also maintain a home in Atwater.
Cardoza and his wife have three children, two of them adopted, and foster children issues have been among Cardoza's priorities in the House. In his six-paragraph statement, Cardoza also cited his "work to build community centers, new schools, roads and water infrastructure" as well as his emphasis on farm programs.
While chair of the House horticulture and organic agriculture subcommittee, Cardoza helped secure a record $1.2 billion for specialty crops as part of the 2008 farm bill.
"Congressman Dennis Cardoza has been a strong and valued supporter of the University of California, Merced, since the earliest days of his career in public service, dating back to his tenures on the Atwater and Merced city councils and in the California Assembly," UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said.
"His efforts throughout the 1990s were instrumental in the selection of Merced as the home for the newest campus in the renowned UC system and in securing funding for the campus' construction -- support that was critical in bringing world-class research, education and public service to a long underserved region of the state," Leland said.
Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden, who formerly served as Modesto police chief, added that Cardoza helped San Joaquin Valley officials frame requests for congressional help. The congressman, Wasden said, wouldn't simply nod and say yes to a local wish list.
"He was able to get things done, and he was also effective in showing what can be accomplished," Wasden said in an interview. "He'd say, 'you need to come back here with one message.' He would keep us realistic."
Cardoza's decision leaves Costa as the favorite to represent the newly redrawn 16th Congressional District, which spans Merced and Madera counties and parts of Fresno County.
Democrats enjoy a 48-to-33 percent voter registration advantage, and Republicans are seeking a top-tier candidate.
The new district includes 324,000 residents of Fresno County, parts of which Costa has represented for some three decades. Cardoza's political base, by contrast, has been in Merced County and points north. The new district's balance seemed to favor Costa, though the two longtime allies never came close to competing.
"Dennis has been a tremendous ally for all the years we have worked together," Costa said in an interview Thursday, adding that "his first priority has always been the people of the San Joaquin Valley."
Cardoza's decision did not surprise his political allies. Tellingly, Cardoza's fundraising slowed since July, and newly filed statements show his campaign treasury has only $62,471 available.
Last July, in another telling move, Cardoza's long-time chief of staff Jennifer Walsh departed for a vice president's job with a health care company. Walsh had worked for Cardoza since he first took office in January 2003, following his defeat of then-Rep. Gary Condit, D-Ceres.
Cardoza served as Condit's chief of staff while Condit was in the state Assembly. Later, as an assemblyman himself, Cardoza challenged his former boss after Condit's reputation plummeted following the disappearance of Chandra Levy, the much-younger woman with whom Condit was having an affair.
"None of us have a divine right to hold these offices we hold," Cardoza said in announcing his inaugural House campaign in October 2001.
Some of Cardoza's most trusted staffers first honed their skills in Condit's office, including district director Lisa Mantarro Moore and senior policy advisor Dee Dee Moosekian.
Politically, too, Cardoza has been cut from the same centrist cloth as past Valley Democrats. Last year, he voted more conservatively on economic and social policy issues than 40 percent of other House members, according to the non-partisan National Journal.
Cardoza helped lead the moderate Blue Dog Caucus, whose membership plummeted following the 2010 election. Cardoza also served as a liaison between moderates and the liberal House Democratic leadership, through his 2007 appointment to the House Rules Committee.
The rules committee seat gave Cardoza, a gambling fan, what he fashioned as a place at the table. Behind the scenes, he could quietly help cut deals. The leadership position, though, was also a complicated one for a centrist whose rural constituents distrust Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
On Thursday, Pelosi praised him as a "leading moderate voice."
"For our country to change course," Cardoza said, "voters must aggressively punish extreme partisanship and rhetoric when they cast their ballots."
Our View: Cardoza retirement no surprise
Longtime Valley lawmaker served his constituents well, addressing issues important to the region.
The Northern San Joaquin Valley has been generally well served over the past 20 years by Dennis Cardoza -- first in local office, then in the Legislature and for the past eight-plus years in Congress.
Thus, we were disappointed by Cardoza's announcement Thursday that he won't seek re-election next year.
At the same time, we weren't surprised by his decision. There were hints of it this summer, especially after the new congressional maps -- still under challenge -- put Cardoza in the same district as his Democratic Party colleague Jim Costa and took Cardoza out of Stanislaus and part of southern San Joaquin County.
And Cardoza also has shown increasing frustration with the Obama administration and with how things get done -- or don't get done -- in Washington, D.C.
His retirement announcement reflects that disgust, as he advised voters to "reward statesmanship. Too many Americans are losing faith in our government and our democracy. For our country to change course, voters must aggressively punish extreme partisanship and rhetoric when they cast their ballots."
Throughout his political career, Cardoza has consistently been what we consider a Valley Democrat, leaning conservative on many issues and weighing in strongly in favor of agriculture.
His most lasting contribution has been his tireless advocacy for UC Merced.
Cardoza has another 14 months in office, and we are confident that he'll stay focused on key issues for his constituents, especially the economy and the devastating impact of the foreclosure crisis.
He and others have consistently tried -- unsuccessfully so far -- to get President Barack Obama to visit the Valley to see firsthand the extent of the economic destruction. We hope Cardoza will continue to do that, as well as using his influence on the transportation and ag bills.
Under the new congressional maps, all of Stanislaus County, plus Escalon, Ripon and other parts of southern San Joaquin County, will be in the 10th District. Merced and Madera counties will be part of the 16th Congressional District, along with more than 300,000 residents of Fresno County. It's imperative that whoever represents that district not be so Fresno-oriented that the northern counties' needs and issues don't get the attention they deserve.
There will plenty of time before Cardoza leaves office to more fully assess his successes and shortcomings in public office, but we are convinced there have been far more of the former than the latter. In the meantime, we wish him well as he completes his final months in elective office.
Fresno Bee
Frustrated Central Valley congressman retiring
TRACIE CONE, Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif. Five-term Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California announced Thursday he will not seek re-election next year, expressing frustration with a political process that rewards "screamers" and criticizing the Obama administration for what he characterized as a failure to solve the housing crisis.
In an unusual attack on a president of his own party, the moderate Democrat had harsh words for President Barack Obama's approach to a mortgage and housing crisis that has led to widespread foreclosures through Cardoza's Central Valley congressional district.
"Home foreclosures are destroying communities and crushing our economy, and the administration's inaction is infuriating," Cardoza said in a statement.
Cardoza represents Merced, Modesto and Stockton in the 18th Congressional District, which has among the highest foreclosure rates in the country. More than 60 percent of the district's homes are worth less than the amount owed on them, compared with 25 percent nationwide, Cardoza told MSNBC earlier this month.
He has been championing a bill that would allow homeowners without equity to refinance at lower interest rates, which he sees as key to economic recovery.
White House spokesman Adam Abrams disagreed with Cardoza's assessment of the administration's work on the foreclosure crisis.
"The president is focused on taking steps to help struggling homeowners, particularly in states hardest hit by the housing crisis," Abrams said.
The administration's efforts include the Hardest Hit Fund, which committed $2 billion to California, and a recently announced one-year mortgage forbearance to unemployed borrowers, he said.
Cardoza, a former state lawmaker, won his congressional district seat in 2002 after challenging Gary Condit, whose reputation collapsed after suspicions arose that he had an affair with murdered intern Chandra Levy. Condit, who was Cardoza's political mentor, eventually was cleared of any involvement in her death.
Since then, Cardoza has not faced strong opposition in what has been a traditional Democratic stronghold.
Cardoza, 52, also expressed frustration with political partisanship in Washington and how certain media outlets appear to focus only on those who express the most extreme views.
"The constant focus on 'screamers' and the 'horse race' of elections is smothering useful discourse and meaningful debate of public policy," Cardoza said. "This, in turn, is fueling the increasingly harsh tone in American politics.
Cardoza's retirement will add to an already uncertain election year in California, which will have independently drawn legislative and congressional districts and a new top-two primary system.
"We're going to have more competitive races than we have had in decades," political analyst Allan Hoffenblum said. "The voters are angry and upset. They don't think government is working. ... It's going to be a very volatile election."
Cardoza opted to retire rather than take on his friend and fellow moderate Democrat, Rep. Jim Costa, in a newly configured 16th Congressional District, which includes Merced, Madera and part of Fresno counties in California's agricultural heartland.
While the district maintains a Democratic majority, the San Joaquin Valley's conservative agriculture community has been vocal against Costa, whom they view as more entwined with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Joanna Burgos of the National Republican Congressional Committee also called Cardoza one of Pelosi's "top lieutenants" and said he was retiring because "he's unelectable." The committee had announced plans to target Cardoza and other Central Valley Democrats in the 2012 elections.
Cardoza is the 13th Democrat to announce retirement, but many of them are running for other offices in 2012. Seven House Republicans have announced they will step down.
Cardoza has championed farmers and helped secure funding to improve water delivery to those particularly susceptible to losing their crops during drought years.
He was instrumental in locating the University of California's newest campus in Merced, and said he will continue to work for the creation of a medical school there.
"Dennis Cardoza has many, many friends in the area and in the entire state of California," UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. "He will remain influential in private life."

Born: March 31, 1959
Marital status: Married to Dr. Kathleen McLoughlin.
Three children: Joey, Brittany and Elaina.
Education: Attended Stanislaus State and graduated from the University of Maryland, 1982.
Experience: Atwater City Council, 1984-86. Merced City Council, 1994-95. California Assembly, 1996-2002. House of Representatives, 2003-present. Member of House Agriculture Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee
EDITORIAL: Cardoza has been good for Valley