Attentive readers of Amanda’s column know that green groups are trying to take out Rep. Richard "Dick" Pombo (R-Calif.) in 2006. They don’t have, you know, a candidate or anything … but they have hope!

One such hope is that former Rep. Pete McCloskey — a Republican about whom the adjective "maverick" is inevitably used — would jump in the race, as he’s frequently threatened.

Well, it looks like McCloskey’s in.

Former U.S. Rep. Paul "Pete" McCloskey, a maverick Republican who opposed the Vietnam War and helped write the Endangered Species Act, said Friday he will run against Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy), a leading critic of how the government has applied environmental protection laws.

Sounds like the Pombo camp is seriously worried:

Pombo was traveling and could not be reached for comment. But his longtime campaign consultant, Wayne Johnson, dismissed McCloskey — who endorsed Democratic Sen. John Kerry for president — as a "stalking horse" for the Democratic Party. "This guy was never close to the mainstream of the Republican Party and he is even farther away now," Johnson said. "We are not going to debate Pete McCloskey. We don’t consider him a serious candidate or a serious Republican."

Feel the contempt!

How are McCloskey’s chances? Um …

McCloskey … said he has rented a studio apartment in Lodi so he can establish residency in Pombo’s district and run against him. He said he is looking for a home to buy there.

McCloskey concedes he has a steep learning curve about issues such as development behind aging river levees, which Pombo has worked to fix. He said he knows only about three dozen people in the entire district, and has not raised any money.

No matter what issues McCloskey raises for his political rebirth, he has virtually no chance of succeeding in such a conservative district, said Republican political consultant Ray McNally.

"I think there is a greater chance that the sun will stand still in the sky," he said. "Very few voters will know who he is, and when they find out, they will disagree with what he stands for."

Super.

The Wall Street Journal also has a general backgrounder on Pombo, for the few of you left not yet familiar with his scumbaggery.

(via Kevin Drum)