Audie Bock to try again

By Ofelia Madrid, Special to the Daily Planet
Friday October 19, 2001

Audie Bock is running again. Her target this time is Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee. 

Bock, a political chameleon who upset former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris in a state Assembly race (only to lose the seat in a landslide less than two years later), announced Thursday her bid for Lee’s Democratic seat.  

She said her sole reason for candidacy was Lee’s vote against a bill granting President Bush war powers.  

“There’s an oath of office that a congressperson takes to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. She did not do this,” Bock told reporters as she filed preliminary papers to be placed on the ballot for the March 5 Democratic primary election. 

Bock said Lee’s vote represented a personal agenda, which does not serve the interest of the district adequately. She characterized the vote as a personal statement about Bush.  

“That is inappropriate at this time,” Bock said. 

She told reporters she initially supported Lee’s vote because the congresswoman had described it as opposing Bush’s grant of a blank check for military action. Bock said she changed her mind after reading the resolution. 

“This was totally different because it was an attack on U.S. soil,” the Piedmont resident said. “There is a pattern of ignoring feelings of the people of this country.” 

Lee was not available for comment. 

Bock originally ran as a Green Party candidate for state assembly in 1999 and defeated Harris. Ten weeks later, she switched her affiliation to independent. After running for re-election as an independent in 2000, Bock received only 22 percent of the vote against Wilma Chan.  

Bock said her current campaign is being run by a Republican political consultant, Sal Russo, who also handled her unsuccessful re-election campaign last year. 

“The problem that Audie Bock has is that she got herself elected as a candidate with a great deal of courage and conviction and then proceeded to jettison that strength by switching political parties to save her own skin. Now she’s just a typical politician,” said Darry Sragow, chief campaign strategist for the assembly Democratic Caucus. “In this race, Barbara Lee is the person of conviction.”  

Gale Kaufman, Lee’s re-election campaign manager said: “The Sept. 11 tragedy is really not an issue that should be politicized in this fashion.” 

Kaufman added she was confused about Bock’s campaign because Bock was one of the first people to congratulate the congresswoman on her strength of character. 

“She has changed her political party several times,” Kaufman said. “For all I know she might be a Republican.” 

Although the state Democratic Party traditionally does not get involved in primary races, spokesman Bob Mulholland left little doubt about how party regulars might view Bock’s candidacy. 

“Who are we kidding? Don’t take the Bock campaign too seriously,” he said. 

Bock’s campaign launched a web site on Wednesday, which initially featured a picture of a smiling Lee in the middle of the burning Twin Towers.  

The picture has since been removed.  

Bock said the picture of the congresswoman was not meant to demonize her, but to make the public aware of that “she turned her back on that suffering.”  

Bock’s Web site also has a link to DumpBarbaraLee.com, which is paid for by Audie Bock for Congress.  

Since the launching of the site, Bock said a lot of the responses are coming from people in New York who are offering their help. 

“I do think there will be support from all over the nation because this is a national cause,” she said. 

Harris said Bock’s campaign is very unfortunate, and called her Web site “despicable.” 

“The link to hateful information is a sad reflection on Audie,” he said. 

Bock criticized Lee for neglecting her district and spending too much time on foreign affairs. 

“She has focused on a program on getting money for AIDS treatment in South Africa. This is not a bad thing to do,” Bock said. “The epidemic is severe, but in Alameda County we have the highest incidents of AIDS in African-American men. I would like to see that addressed before we take on problems of people outside the United States.” 

Bock insisted her campaign was not negative but one of unity. 

“This is a campaign that is for unity with the rest of the nation, that’s for supporting and mourning with the people who have suffered,” she said.