EDITOR'S NOTE: Incumbent Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is running against Libertarian Brian Holtz, Republican Ronny Santana and Green Carol Brouillet for the 14th Congressional District seat.

SANTA CRUZ --The work in Congress hasn't been easy lately.

If it's not voting to spend $700 billion of taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street, it's figuring out what to do about offshore oil exploration. There's also a war on two fronts, not to mention that most in Congress are up for re-election next month.

Sixteen-year Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is one of those seeking another term and, with three relatively unknown challengers vying for her seat, she's counting on her experience to appeal to voters during these turbulent times.

The Democratic lawmaker has long toed the progressive line of her party, scoring high marks for votes on social and health issues, reforming energy policy and environmental protection.

Last week, Eshoo was among House Democrats disappointed about the failure of Congress to renew a decades-old moratorium on domestic drilling. "I've always fought offshore oil drilling. It's simply wrong-headed," she said in a recent interview.

She acknowledged Democrats backed away from the ban after Republicans threatened to block a spending bill and shut down the federal government should Democrats insist on the moratorium. Her party intends to revisit the drilling issue when the new presidential administration takes office next year.

This week, Eshoo supported a controversial proposal to use billions of federal dollars to address what she called the "Chernobyl of the financial sector." She said the government plan is necessary to stave off more economic turmoil and that it was an improvement over earlier proposals.

Eshoo blamed the collapse of the markets on the "cowboy capitalism" promoted during President Bush's two terms.

None of Eshoo's three challengers said they support the bailout package proposed this week.

"We need the people who took the risk to pay the price or otherwise they'll keep doing this," said Libertarian candidate Brian Holtz, a software engineer at Yahoo and resident of Los Altos Hills.

Holtz, like the three others who want Eshoo's job, acknowledges his chances of winning the election are slim but he wants to give voters another option.

Opposite Holtz's libertarian platform is Carol Brouillet, the candidate for the Green Party.

Brouillet, who maintains that Sept. 11 was an inside job, ran unsuccessfully for Congress two years ago on a pledge to impeach the president. "The reason I'm doing it again is to raise the issues that are taboo," said Brouillet, a Palo Alto resident and longtime political activist.

Brouillet is a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq and would put military money and resources to work for other purposes.

Incidentally, Eshoo was among the minority in Congress who voted in 2002 against giving the president the authority to go to war.

Republican Ronny Santana, of Saratoga, is also on the ballot.

"I know I'm the underdog," he said. "But regardless of the fact, if you believe in your voice, it needs to be heard and you need to share it."

If elected, Santana says he would push to better enforce immigration laws, fight terrorism and protect the public from government intrusion.

Eshoo was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, after having served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for 10 years.

In Congress, Eshoo sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where she serves on the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

One of her recent legislative proposals, which drew no shortage of media attention, would require the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the volume of television commercials. The bill, which has yet to be passed, came in response to complaints about the sudden increase of volume when television programs yield to the commercial break.

"I know there's profound issues facing this country, but there are still other things lower on the totem poll that we have to look after," she said.