Political Fix (3/20/2014)

Macareno Officially Announces His Candidacy for State Assembly District 26

Ruben Macareno, Tulare County Democratic Party Chairman, made it official March 16th by announcing his candidacy for the 26th State Assembly District. Speaking in front of a hometown crowd that had gathered at Farmersville’s historic Methodist Church, Mr. Macareno outlined his priorities for the county.

“I am one hundred percent against fracking and will fight for clean drinking water for everyone.” He also pointed out that neither Kings nor Tulare County has a state university and we need to start preparing today to convince the state to build one here. “I am a product of this community and I will be your mouthpiece so we bring about true change in Tulare County.”

Mr. Macareno has been racking up some important endorsements since making the decision to run. Carlton Jones and Mr. Macareno both sought the California Democratic Party’ endorsement. They faced off in Palmdale at the party’s regional Pre-Conference Endorsement meeting. Mr. Macareno won with a 16-10 vote over Tulare Vice-Mayor Jones. The third candidate, Derek Thomas, did not seek the endorsement.

Of the 26 endorsement electors Mr. Macareno received all five votes from Mr. Jones’s hometown of Tulare, all of Inyo County’s three votes, all two from his childhood town of Farmersville, half of the 10 votes from Visalia where he currently resides and one from Porterville for a total of 16 votes. Mr. Jones received half of Visalia’s votes, one from Ivanhoe, Lindsay, Exeter, Seville and Lake Isabella.

The California Democratic Party did not officially endorse either candidate because they were deadlocked among delegates. Since the convention Mr. Macareno has received endorsements from, among others, Greg Gomez, the vice mayor of Farmersville, the Porterville Democratic Club, and Lucia Vazquez, Visalia Unified District Trustee.

Centro Mexicano American Latino endorses Felipe Martinez for Tulare County Supervisor District 5

On March 9th, the Centro Mexicano American Latino (CMAL) held a forum for Tulare County Supervisor’s District 5. The candidates who attended were Virginia Gurrola, Greg Shelton and Felipe Martinez. Supervisor Mike Ennis, the incumbent, did not respond to CMAL’s several invitations.

Once Mr. Shelton arrived at the forum and realized that Mr. Ennis was not participating, he decided not to participate himself. Mr. Shelton said that his beef wasn’t with Ms. Gurrola or Mr. Martinez, but that wanted to have it out with Mr. Ennis. Besides, now it was a “Latino thing.” Juan Duran, organizer of the event, tried to convince Mr. Shelton to reconsider, saying that some attendees had come a long way just to hear his thoughts about running the district. But Mr. Shelton declined.

During the forum, both Ms. Gurrola and Mr. Martinez said that they respected the other supervisors and felt they could work well with all of them. One of the main concerns the audience had was having two Latinos run for the same office and how it would split the Hispanic vote. Mr. Martinez had discussed with Ms. Gurrola over a year and a half ago that he planned on running. She decided to join the race anyway. “That’s what happens when you have two very qualified Hispanics finally step forward to run for office,” said Mr. Duran.

After the executive board discussed the two candidates they decided to endorse Mr. Martinez for Tulare County Supervisor. The board felt that he was a good negotiator, could work well with people, was down to earth and committed to his constituents.

The CMAL will not be holding a forum for Tulare County Sheriff because they have already decided to endorse Dave Whaley.

The CMAL will also not be holding a forum for the Porterville City Council because Mr. Duran is himself a candidate.

Stick to the Issues

Amanda Renteria recently tweeted, “Thank you volunteers for helping spread our message across CA21.” What message, exactly, would that be?

Since Ms. Renteria burst on the scene last fall announcing her run for the 21st congressional district, her would-be constituents are anxious to learn her position on the Valley’s pressing issues. But perusing her website, Amanda Renteria for Congress, is an exercise in frustration. Where is the tab for “issues?”

I reached out to Ms. Renteria’s campaign manager in an email and she said, “Right now, our campaign is focusing on our biography so that voters can get to know Amanda’s story. We are also happy to set up interviews further in the future to focus on policy discussions and issues that are important to the Valley.” I’m still waiting.

For those of us who didn’t letter in two varsity sports at a very prestigious university, we would rather read about what she thinks of the water bond, High-Speed Rail or fracking – not just her personal history.

After no little amount of digging, I finally found one article in the Bakersfield Californian that kind of, sort of, explained Ms. Renteria positions. She and her two opponents, Rep David Valadao and John Hernandez, participated in a candidates’ forum last month at a library in Bakersfield. During the forum, Rep. Valadao clearly stated he is for immigration reform and fracking, and against the Affordable Health Care Act and High-Speed Rail.

Ms. Renteria? “She supports the spirit of High-Speed rail but wants to see a functional financial plan that can make the vision a reality.” She “thinks fracking needs strong regulation,” and “knows the Affordable Care Act is flawed, but thinks it can and should be fixed,” according to the Bakersfield Californian.

What?

I know some issues are too complicated for sound bites, but occationally you just want to hear a “yes” or a “no.”

Ms. Renteria just won the California Democratic Party’s endorsement over veteran politician John Hernandez, which is no small accomplishment. Republicans were also impressed, and threatened, from the beginning, taking the time to create a fake renteria4congress.com website to bash Ms. Renteria. But in the age of on-demand information, a constituent should be able to find her stand on the issues in five minutes. Mr. Hernandez is not going to pull off another political upset like he did against Blong Xion in 2012, but he has the website of a congress member. Ms. Renteria should also.

Two more Republicans join the 26th District State Assembly Race

Rudy Mendoza and Esther Barajas have two more Republicans to contend with on the ballot for Assembly District 26. Out of the seven candidates four are Republicans. The new contenders add to the already interesting complexity of this race.

Teresita “Tess” Andres was born and raised in Aguson, an island in the southern Philippines. She is a naturalized citizen and has lived in Visalia with her husband for twelve years. While in the Philippines she worked in the office of the Executive Secretary to President Fidel Ramos, who was in office from 1992-1998. During Ms. Andres world travels, she met many international dignitaries and has had the life experiences to “be an effective instrument in helping District 26.”

According to her website, she will be the first COS student to have run for this office. “I enjoy being a lifelong learner, with various certifications, ranging from emergency medical technician to public notary. My experience as a student is instrumental in this race to Sacramento.” She wants to serve in the state assembly because of her desire to give back to the community and share her experiences as a dedicated public servant.

The fourth Republican in the race is an Iraqi war veteran, Devon Mathis. Mr. Mathis is running for the state assembly because, “I didn’t go to war to sit around and let other people decide on the future of the Valley or my kids.”

He was born in Porterville but has settled with his fiancé and their children in Visalia. Mr. Mathis was a sergeant for 10 years in the Army and went on two combat tours in Iraq. During this time, he trained and mentored hundreds of successful soldiers. In his second tour, he was blown up in a road side bomb attack in 2008 in which he earned a Purple Heart. After returning home, and recovering from his extensive injuries, he graduated from Fresno State with a BA in Public Administration. He was also the President of the Veterans Fraternity.

There was almost a fifth Republican candidate that would have trumped all of the above. Former Assembly Member Bill Maze tried to pull papers to run for his old office. Mr. Maze held the seat from 2002 to 2008. When he termed out of office, his wife Rebecca ran for the seat, but lost in the Republican primary against Connie Conway. The law has since changed about term limits, which motivated him to try and run again. However, the law does not include anyone who was in office between 1990 and 2010. Too bad. It would have been interesting to see how the political dust settled in the fight for endorsements and campaign money between Rudy and Bill.

Ashley Swearengin puts Sexy Back into the Controller’s Office

GOP Chairman Jim Brulte was quoted as saying that he “does not buy into the idea that Republicans can’t win statewide. We’ve got some really great candidates running statewide.”

Really? – No.

While one Republican candidate for governor relies on a borrowed RV and Facebook ads for his campaign, and the other voted for Barack Obama in 2008, saying the Republicans have a solid slate of candidates is a bit much. There does exist one ray of sunshine though for the Republican Party, and it comes straight from the Central Valley, Ashley Swearengin.

A few days before the filing deadline, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin threw in her hat to run for State Controller. And that’s when the criticism started flying, coming from none other than her own party.

It went like this:

Now Fresno will only have a part-time mayor while she campaigns. Her campaign will prove that Fresno doesn’t need a strong mayor government. Her candidacy is just positioning her for the 2016 election. Her support for High-Speed Rail is unpopular. Working with Obama will lose her votes. If she wins, it will cost Fresno megabucks for a special election. She will leave a lot of unfinished business at city hall.

According to the Fresno Bee, “She is rocking the local political boat.”

Good.

Her critics fail to see the big picture. Ms. Swearengin is telegenic and well spoken. She is going to make the two Democrats running for Controller spend their campaign money, on their own campaign, instead of handing it over to other Democrats in tight races. She will put Fresno on the political map and will draw local Republicans to the polls helping both Vidak and Valadao. Could you say the same for the Republicans’ unofficially endorsed Tim Donnelly?

Ms. Swearengin is used to the pressure of hard work and has assembled a talented team to run Fresno. The city will not lose its strong mayor form of government because you can’t run a city of 500,000 people, and a one billion dollar budget, by committee. Fresno should grateful she forged a close relationship with President Obama. She would have done the same with Mr. Romney. She has to support the HSR in order to bring jobs to Fresno, but may change her mind if she becomes controller. And there will be no special election because Ms. Swearengin is not going to win. Being the only Republican on the ballot for Controller she will probably get past the primary, but no one really knows who she is outside of the valley.

Shawn Steel, former state Republican Party Chair has the right attitude. “She is an outstanding mayor and a fresh face in the Republican Party statewide. She’s going to be one of our best opportunities to win a statewide office –if not our very best.” he said.

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