Political Fix (1/16/2014)

Race gets crowded for the 26th Assembly District Race

Derek Thomas and Carlton Jones, both Democrats who hail from Tulare, announced their candidacy for the 26th State Assembly District earlier this month. They are friends, personally and politically, as both have run for Tulare City Council several times. Mr. Thomas barely lost both times as he was the next closest candidate. This is no small feat because their first race had 13 contenders. Mr. Jones is the current Vice mayor of Tulare.

Mr. Thomas grew up in Newark, NJ, and served in the Army after graduating from high school. He moved to California in 1984 and settled in Tulare two years later with his wife and two children. He has a passion for politics, saying that, “Whatever I can do to help the quality of life for people in Tulare County, I will do it.”

Mr. Thomas’ major platform position is supporting Tulare County’s agriculture. “I always support our farmers and dairymen because I know the importance of agriculture and what it means to Tulare County being one of the largest agricultural producers in the country.” He also wants to be supportive of the largest agricultural exposition in the country, knowing that it brings in millions of dollars a year to the community. Another one of his priorities is to “fight to protect our water because without it there would be no agricultural industry.”

According to the Tulare Voice, the 48-year-old Thomas said he plans to retire from the Department of Corrections in 2015, “So the timing is right for me.”

Vice Mayor Jones is a City of Fresno firefighter specialist. He served on the city council from 2004 to 2008, lost his seat in 2008, and was elected again in 2012. He is married with eight children.

According to the Visalia Times-Delta, “I am not a cookie-cutter,” he said. “I supported Connie [Conway] and Devin [Nunes, the U.S. Representative]. I also support President Barack Obama. I am willing to work with Republicans and represent the working class,” he said.

According to the Tulare Voice, Jones said the only set item on his agenda is “to change the way we govern. Government isn’t working for people anymore, especially the working class people, and I want to be part of the change. If everyone’s happy with the way we’ve been operating in the last eight to ten years, then I’m not the guy for you. I’m all about just being a working class representative,” Jones said. “A lot of people are making decisions for a lifestyle they’ve never been a part of.”

Mr. Thomas is not your garden variety Democrat, either. According to a Visalia Times-Delta blogger, he is anti-abortion and against same-sex marriage.

Mr. Thomas and Mr. Jones are the fourth and fifth candidates for the 26th state assembly seat. Democrat Ruben Macareno, and Republicans Ester Barajas and Rudy Mendoza have also announced. An independent, Franklin Jones, has filed a 501 with the California Secretary of State but has not officially announced. The 26th State Assembly District seat is currently held by Connie Conway, who is not seeking reelection.


Dean Florez Disappoints by Pulling out of Race

According to the Fresno Bee, “former state Senator Dean Florez has closed his 2014 campaign committee for state controller after paying off a $60,000 fine for misusing campaign funds, the largest such penalty in state history.”

So what are the duties of the state controller? According to the California State Controller’s website, “The controller is the chief fiscal officer of California, the ninth-largest economy in the world. Elected every four years, the controller makes sure the state’s $100 billion budget is spent properly.”

To have Mr. Florez pull out of the race is a blow when you write a column like this. Now we are going to miss out on some of the best spin ever listening to him justify spending campaign money at places like Ikea and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Could Mr. Florez have picked a better office to run for? Granted, he would have made a lousy state controller. But he also would have been a dream candidate. Now we have to wait for whatever fringe candidate plans on running against Rep. Devin Nunes to get some chuckles. Maybe this time it can be someone who actually lives in the district.

There does exist a serious contender for state controller. He is Assembly Speaker John Perez. He put forward a new ballot measure to help California stockpile cash to survive future recessions. This measure would mitigate the need for deep spending cuts during bad times. He sounds like someone who could run the ninth-largest economy in the world–but does he shop at Ikea?


Setting it Straight – Again

The Visalia Times-Delta on December 31st wrote that there was going to be a “dramatic election year expected for local politicians.” One of the more dramatic battles was going to be Republican incumbent Sen. Andy Vidak against Republican incumbent Sen. Jean Fuller for the 16th district. Even the Valley Voice’s department of political analysis, employees –one ; me, lounging around on my couch in my bunny slippers–knew that Sen. Fuller and Sen. Vidak were never going to face each other in a state senate race.

Sen. Fuller’s spokesperson, Julie Sauls, confirmed that Sen. Vidak and Sen. Fuller were not running for the same office. Sen. Fuller is currently in the 18th district and will be running for the 16th district in June of 2014, though she has not formally announced. Sen. Vidak currently holds the 16th district seat but will be running for the 14th district. Seeing as one lives in Hanford and the other lives in Bakersfield, it’s only prudent to check before assuming that they will be challenging each other.

The Visalia Times-Delta got its information off of the California Secretary of State website. Candidates who want to start fundraising need to file a Statement of Intent with the secretary of state, but this does not mean that they will actually run. Nor does it mean that the information they submit is correct. John Ellis, from the Fresno Bee, said, “lots of politicians open up campaign accounts only to not run for that seat — or not run at all. Some just use it as a spot to park their campaign money while they consider their next political move.”

According to the California Secretary of State’s Office, “We have people file a 501 Statement of Intent who can’t even complete the form or just want to see their name on a website. If someone files a 501 stating that they intend to run for lieutenant governor, then that’s what gets put on the site. We don’t check anything. That’s what the Election Divisions do.”

The California Secretary of State website is just too much fun and the Visalia Times-Delta got sucked into its database. Where else can you find out that Cindy Sheehan from the Peace and Freedom party might be running for governor? Remember her? Or that Kumar Rakesh Christiam from the “Unknown Party” wants to be governor. Why is his party designation “Unknown?” because Kumar didn’t understand how to fill out the “party preference” section of the form.

Sen. Vidak’s real competitors are Democrats Luis Chavez, a Fresno Unified School District trustee, and Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle.


Abel Maldonado – The Perfect Republican Candidate for Governor

Governor Jerry Brown will most likely win reelection in 2014, so it doesn’t matter who runs on the Republican ticket, right? Wrong. Tim Donnally shooting off his mouth that he is unfazed by a state electorate that leans far to his left could seriously endanger the future of the Republican Party in California. While most candidates in vulnerable districts are running towards Immigration Reform, Mr. Donnally continues to be a vocal critic. This will drive up Hispanic turnout and affect the chances of Sen. Andy Vidak and Rep. David Valadao keeping their seats, or even keeping them in Republican hands.

According to the Fresno Bee, a Republican analyst said, “the main concern for all Valley Republicans should be if the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate will be neutral or will do them harm.”

What was Mr. Donnally’s main criticism of the last Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman? “She wasn’t listening.”


Chris Christie’s Fate Was Already Written

Did the Fort Lee scandal ruin New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s chances to be the Republican Presidential nominee for 2016? No, because he didn’t have a prayer of being a Republican presidential candidate in the first place. I don’t know if there are more video clips of the governor being rude to his constituents or skeletons in his closet. In what universe can this crass man woo the Republican base of Southerners, evangelicals and Tea Partiers? Is this someone Republicans honestly think will still be standing after the South Carolina primary?

When Mitt Romney, who himself was passed over for the likes of Sarah Palin, turns around and doesn’t even put Gov. Christie on his short list of running mates, you know something is seriously amiss. The only thing this scandal did to the 2016 presidential campaign was deprive us pundits of a few, well maybe a lot, of juicy stories as Gov. Christie’s skeletons emerged to see the light of day.

Gov. Christie may be a very good governor of New Jersey, but New Jersey is where he should stay. Political retribution is not acceptable on the national landscape, especially if one gets caught. What personality type partially closes down the busiest bridge on earth because someone hurt his feelings? Is this who we want in charge of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world?

Gov. Christie declared during his two-hour news conference, “I am not a bully,” reminding us of a certain someone who declared “I am not a crook.” Christine O’Donnell declared, “I am not a witch,” yet would have done so much better in her election had she been one.

What has been the Republican response in defense of Gov. Chris Christie? Radio silence.


Is It Too Early to Talk about the 2016 Election? How about 2018?

How do you know that pretty-boy Gavin Newsom is terming out after he is re-elected for the office of lieutenant governor in 2014? Because, out of the eight people who have filed their Statement of Intent for the 2018 election, three are running for lieutenant governor. As I’ve said ad nauseum, this doesn’t mean they are actually going to run, but these aren’t names like Democrat Kwame Boateng, who fantasizes about running for governor. These are three fairly well-known politicians who would make strong candidates: State Senators Tom Berryhill, Darrell Steinberg and Mark Leno.


Who is Running this State? Not Los Angles

Anyone who reads this column, or is interested in politics, knows that all of California’s statewide elected offices are held by Democrats. But did you know that they are also all held by Northern Californians? No wonder the inland counties want to secede from their own state. They are not very well represented.

The longest serving governor in California’s history is Governor Jerry Brown. He has also served as secretary of state, attorney general and the mayor of Oakland. Governor Brown was born in San Francisco. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s roots run deep in the Bay Area. Not only was he the mayor of, but is a fourth-generation San Franciscan. Both California’s senators are from the Bay Area with Sen. Barbara Boxer from Marin and Sen. Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco.

Bill Lockyer, state treasurer, has spent more than 40 years in state elected office. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and began his political career as a school board member of the San Leandro Unified School District, and was California coordinator of Senator George McGovern’s 1972 campaign for the presidency.

Dave Jones, state insurance commissioner, was a member of the Sacramento City Council and Tom Torlakson, superintendant of public information, is from Contra Costa County’s Mount Diablo Unified School District.

According to the website Capitol Weekly, “L.A. doesn’t vote in as high numbers because less of them are absentee, it has this impact on the races. And you can see all our statewide officers…are from northern California… L.A. is bigger than the Bay Area, but in terms of voter turnout in a primary, because of the low absentee rates in L.A. County, L.A. is actually smaller than the Bay Area in turnout.”

The secretary of state, Debra Bowen, the person in charge of my favorite website ever, and John Chiang, state controller, don’t fit my thesis so they aren’t included.


And Lastly for the Ridiculous

This has nothing to do with Political Fix but I just had to reprint it. According to the Fresno Bee, “The Insane Clown Posse sued the U.S. Justice Department last Wednesday over a 2011 FBI report that describes the rap-metal duo’s devoted fans, “the Juggalos” as a dangerous gang, saying the designation has tarnished reputations and hurt business.”

If you are going to call yourself the “Insane Clown Posse,” you don’t need any help from the FBI in tarnishing your reputation.

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