2 wild cards ‘challenge’ Thompson

The only real question confronting Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, in his bid for a ninth term in the House of Representatives is whether he will top the 74.5 percent winning margin he had in 2002.

Thompson has never lost an election since he first ran for the California State Senate in 1990, and his lowest winning margin for the House is 61.84 percent.

Some of his success margins are no doubt a result of the registration edge Democrats have had in both Congressional districts in which Thompson has run – the elongated, former 1st District and the recently redrawn 5th District – but his moderate “Blue Dog” version of Democratic politics clearly has appeal across political boundaries, and this year no Republican emerged for even a token challenge.

Instead, two virtually unknown independents – one a former online professional poker player from Napa named James Hinton, the other a Martinez resident named Douglas “Dutch” Van Raam, whose resume includes stints as a stagehand, light rigger and landscaper.

Hinton, who has no political affiliation but says his views often align with the Libertarian party, is focusing his campaign heavily on the legalization of marijuana. He says medical marijuana is responsible for restoring his health, and he supported an unsuccessful effort earlier this year to put a referendum on the Napa city ballot allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in town. The petition drive fell some 2,000 signatures short of the necessary 3,852 valid signatures of Napa residents.

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