Political Fix (2/20/2014)

Carlton Jones Endorsed by Centro Mexicano American Latino for the 26th Assembly District

During a candidates’ forum for the 26th State Assembly District, Carlton Jones, vice mayor of Tulare, won the endorsement of Centro Mexicano American Latino (CMAL). On Sunday, February 9th, all five candidates participated in a forum put on by CMAL, in conjunction with Porterville Immigration Youth United.

“They were very qualified, very professional candidates. It was difficult to select just one,” said John Duran, president of CMAL. Mr. Duran said that they chose Vice Mayor Jones because of his sincerity and the fact that he would best represent the people of Tulare County. “Carlton is the kind of caliber of person we are looking for. We feel he can do the job that needs to get done.” The group also took into consideration that as a registered Democrat, Mr. Jones won his city council seat, twice, in a predominately Republican district. They see him as very electable.

With 43.7% of the voters registered Republicans, and only 33.5% as Democrats, it would seem that Republican Rudy Mendoza would have this election all sewn up. But not much light can be seen between former Democrat Mr. Mendoza and Mr. Jones, a very conservative Democrat.

When presented with the fact that the 26th Assembly District was considered “safe Republican,” Mr. Duran said it’s not all about money. “It’s about people power. The people will prevail if we get out there and do voter registration.”

The 26th Assembly District election has been anything but dull. Two weeks ago, candidate Derek Thomas, also of Tulare, accused Mr. Jones of assault after a meeting on the COS campus. Tim Ward, Tulare County District Attorney, received the complaint a few days later but didn’t take the case. He has publicly endorsed Rudy Mendoza. Mr. Ward turned the case over to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, which didn’t file criminal charges against Mr. Jones for lack of evidence.

 

It’s Just a Fluke

Just in case anyone forgot about the Republican base’s unease with women having sex, Sandra Fluke has entered the political scene. A Democrat and an attorney, Ms. Fluke first considered running for retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman’s congressional seat, but decided instead to stay local and run for the 28th District State Senate seat currently held by Ted Lieu, D-Torrance. Ms. Fluke felt that she could make more of a difference in the state legislature than in Congress.

Ms. Fluke became famous in 2012 when Rep. Darrell Issa, R-San Diego, blocked her from testifying in front of a Congressional Committee on contraception, opting instead for an all-male panel. After several female legislators walked out, Ms. Fluke was invited back to testify for an informal congressional hearing where she explained why contraception should be covered by health insurance. This prompted our national brain trust, Rush Limbaugh, to exclaim she was having so much sex she couldn’t afford her birth control. After calling her a slut and demanding sex tapes, Ms. Fluke rose to national notoriety and was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ms. Fluke said, “I am committed to continuing that fight in Sacramento, working to protect our environment, ensure our access to health care, and create the jobs that are desperately needed. While I strongly considered offering my candidacy for Congress, I feel there is a better way for me to advance the causes that are important to our community.”

 

Making History – Maybe

Most people have heard of Log Cabin Republicans, but has a Log Cabin Republican ever been elected to federal office? Openly gay Republicans have been elected to local posts and state assemblies, but no Republican has ever been openly gay when first elected to Congress. This may change in 2014, and California might help lead the way.

For election year 2014, there are three openly gay men running for Congress and, not surprisingly, all three come from states where same-sex marriage is legal. Two of the candidates are married. Each will be running against a Democratic incumbent, and with a 90% re-election rate for incumbents, none of these races will be easy.

The Republican with the best chance of winning is former San Diego City Council Member Carl DeMaio. He is running against a Democratic first-timer, Scott Peters, who, according to the Cook Report, is considered very vulnerable. Congressional District 52 is evenly split among independents, Republicans and Democrats, but leans Republican. There are two other Republicans running for the 52nd District congressional seat but don’t seem to pose a serious threat. Mr. DeMaio and Mr. Peters will win the June primary and go on to face each other in the November election.

Former State Senator Richard Tisei from Massachusetts and former business school dean, Dan Innis from New Hampshire are the two other openly gay candidates running for Congress.

Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, once compared homosexual acts to child molestation and bestiality. That led House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to pledge public support for gay Republicans. Boehner traveled to Massachusetts in 2012 to help raise money for Mr. Tisei, who notes that more than 70 members of Congress supported his last campaign.

Democrats currently have eight openly gay members serving in Congress, including Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who last year became the nation’s first openly gay senator.

An openly gay Rrpublican incumbent has been elected, but only one, and that was back in the 1990’s. It was Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona who retired in 2006. First elected in 1984, he disclosed his sexual orientation in 1996.

 

Republicans on a Roll

Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, of Tulare, issued the following statement regarding Kevin Faulconer’s victory in the San Diego mayoral race:

“Congratulations to Kevin, his entire campaign team, and the army of volunteers from across the state who worked so hard to earn a solid win. Kevin’s common sense platform of reform resonated with voters across party lines who needed a strong leader to move the city forward. Last night’s victory, coupled with Andy Vidak’s win last summer, are previews of Republicans’ momentum in the year ahead. Republicans are on a winning streak which gives me great hope that, this fall, we will continue to flex our political muscle and rebuild our party.”

Democrats will retain control of the California legislature this election, but what the Republicans are hoping to do is end the Democratic two-thirds supermajorities. Given these last two victories, the momentum is on the Republican’s side.

Of course, Democrats are being a huge help in the matter. One Democratic Senator, Rod Wright, has just been convicted of several felonies and will soon need to vacate his office. Another Democrat, Sen. Ron Calderon, is not far behind. Once Sen. Wright is gone the Democrats will have 27 votes in the senate. One more loss and there goes their supermajority.

Dan Walters of the Fresno Bee gives the Republicans an even chance of regaining enough seats to make them relevant again on such votes as taxes and constitutional amendments. “Bottom line: a better than 50-50 chance for the Senate’s supermajority to disappear, but a less than 50-50 chance in the Assembly.”

 

A Firewall of Genius

“Damn it, Jim–I’m a doctor, not a brick layer,” said Dr. McCoy in one of the more famous lines out of the original Star Trek show. Despite his protestations, the doctor managed to fix the alien life form, thereby saving the Enterprise to explore new galaxies. This same ingenuity was employed by the Republicans when they created their new political firewall, erected in dozens of states around the country, which lead to their taking control of Congress in 2010, and to keeping control of Congress in 2012.

How is it possible that the minority party took over the house in 2010, and then retained it in 2012?

Big-time Republican donors were persuaded by political strategists that their dollars could go much further on the local level than in the morass of inertia that is Washington. Political nonprofits, conservative donors and conservative PACs shuffled their money from states with lenient campaign financing rules to thousands of local races in swing states around the country in an effort to flip state legislatures to Republican control.

This financial shuffling succeeded, and in 2010 Republicans moved a dozen more states to sole Republican control. That meant a total of 25 states were under Republican control during a census year and thus were in Republican control for redistricting. They took the opportunity to carve each state up into complicted puzzle pieces that concentrated Democrats into the fewest districts possible. The result? In 2012, the first election after redistricting, Democrats received one million more votes than the Republicans, but lost the house majority by 33 seats.

According to the New York Times, “The Republicans could use their new state house majorities to build a firewall in the United States House of Representatives: congressional districts so favorably drawn for Republicans that the party’s House majority would endure for a decade.”

Of our 50 states, only 13 have a legislature that is truly bipartisan. Twenty-three states are controlled by Republicans in the Senate, Assembly and the Governor’s office. Thirteen have Democratic control, including California.

This has left the more cynical political pundits to surmise that voters no longer pick their representatives, but instead candidates choose their voters. How else could you explain a 13% approval rate for congress and a 90% reelection rate for congressional candidates? You can explain it many ways, but gerrymandering is definitely one of them. And zeroing-in on local elections was genius.

How did gerrymandering push California to Democratic control? It didn’t, because in 2010 voters approved a ballot measure to appoint an impartial panel to redraw the districts. California is what you would call an organic dictatorship.

What does this mean for 2014’s midterm elections? With gerrymandered districts, and a non-presidential election, where low voter turnout always works to the Republican’s advantage, Republicans can count on picking up a few more congressional seats. They might also have a chance to take over the Senate. The Democrats finally cottoned on to the fact that they need to concentrate on state level elections and won some states back in 2012. But the districts have been redrawn and the Democrats won’t have another opportunity until 2020. By then, there will have been a game-change.

 

And Finally – The Unbelievable

Everyone’s favorite candidate for governor, Tim Donnelly, apparently is on probation. Mr. Donnelly, R-San Bernardino County, was placed on probation for three years after trying to board a plane with a loaded hand gun at the Ontario International Airport in 2012.

The maximum penalty for his crime was 18 months in jail. Donnelly pleaded no contest and was fined $2,215 and placed on probation until 2015, meaning he would still be on probation if elected governor.

According to a February 14th article in the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Donnelly has violated his probation. “Donnelly used two borrowed handguns and a rifle while practicing shooting on a campaign stop in Santa Cruz County.” The personal use of firearms not registered to him was in violation of his probation. Just as surprising as Mr. Donnelly’s offense is the fact that there is a firing range in Santa Cruz.

The L.A. Times continued, “Asked in a phone interview whether he violated his probation, Donnelly said, ‘I don’t see it,’ and called the questions ‘much ado about nothing. I didn’t do anything other than exercise my 2nd Amendment rights as a free American,’ he said.

Besides the fact that his views on gun control are more in step with Oklahoma than California, his comments make it look like he is above the law. Does Mr. Donnelly mean to say only the laws he agrees with pertain to him?

You’d think someone on probation running for public office would be a little more apologetic, maybe even humble, especially if that person were running for governor.

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