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California - 4th District

Incumbent -- Tom McClintock (R) ; Running for re-election

Safe Republican
Race Ratings Key

Updated Feb. 10, 2010

The reputation of the largely rural 4th District as a Republican stronghold was underscored in 2008, when Republican presidential nominee John McCain won there by 10 percentage points (even as Democrat Barack Obama scored a landslide victory statewide). Yet the conservative McClintock won the open-seat House election in the northeastern California district by just a razor-thin margin over Democrat Brown, a retired Air Force officer who had come close to ousting longtime Republican Rep. John T. Doolittle in 2006.

McClintock, who lost to fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall election for governor, overcame two big obstacles in 2008: Doolittle's ethics problems stemming from his past associations with Washington influence-peddler Jack Abramoff, and a "carpetbagger" label slapped on McClintock because his previous political base as a state legislator was hundreds of miles away in southern California.

But having survived that close contest, McClintock appears better-positioned for his 2010 re-election race. Brown doesn't plan to run again, and Democrats haven't determined their nominee or how much effort they are going to continue to put into trying to turn this district over.

McClintock does face a Republican primary challenge from Michael Babich, a medical firm executive.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The 4th District, featuring lakes, rivers and mountains, starts at the Oregon border and drops down the Nevada line to Lake Tahoe. The district's southwestern corner also takes in areas near Sacramento.

The mining counties of El Dorado and Placer give the 4th a Gold Rush feel, but the modern industry here is based in technology. Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties host more than three-fourths of the district's population and facilities for big technology firms like Hewlett-Packard and Oracle. These areas draw residents who want to leave crowded cities but still work in technology fields.

Timber and farming also play important roles in the economy, and the 4th is a popular vacation destination. Ski resorts dot the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and Lake Tahoe in eastern El Dorado and Placer counties offers skiing, hiking, shopping and golf. Placer's abundant natural beauty is a draw for retirees.

Economic uncertainty leaves the local technology, tourism and retail markets vulnerable, and some former agricultural areas have sought new sources of economic stability. Susanville, in Lassen County near the rural center of the 4th, is home to only 17,000 residents but hosts more than 9,000 inmates in two prisons -- the High Desert State Prison and the California Corrections Center.

The 4th is predominately white and is safe GOP territory. Republican John McCain won easily here in the 2008 presidential election, and his two highest percentages statewide were in Modoc and Lassen counties. Every county in the 4th, including the district's portion of Democratic Sacramento, backed GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in 2010, and she won her highest percentage statewide in Modoc.

Major Industry

Technology, agriculture, mining, tourism

Military bases

Sierra Army Depot, 1 military, 881 civilian (2009)


Roseville, 118,788; Rocklin, 56,974


Lake Tahoe is the second-deepest lake in the nation and 10th-deepest in the world.




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