Political Fix (4/17/2014)

Ruben Macareno Racks up More Endorsements for the 26th Assembly District Race

Ruben Macareno is the leading Democrat in terms of endorsements for the 26th Assembly District Race. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has just endorsed Mr. Macareno for the 26th State Assembly seat, which is being vacated by Assembly Member Connie Conway.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of a statewide office-holder in Dave Jones, who works tirelessly for Californians,” said Mr. Macareno. “We share a common value of working hard for constituents and are dedicated to public service.”

Mr. Jones leads the California Department of Insurance (CDI), the largest consumer protection agency in the state, which regulates the $123 billion insurance industry. He served in the Assembly from 2004 to 2010.

Mr. Macareno also secured the endorsement of the Latino Democrats of Tulare County (LDTC). On the heels of that endorsement, Mr. Macareno also got a nod from Carlos Alcala, the chairman of the California Democratic Party Chicano Latino Caucus. Mr. Alcala is also the communications director for San Francisco Assembly Member Tom Ammiano.

“I am elated that Latino leaders are standing with me in this endeavor. Latino issues are no different than the needs and concerns of the entire district. Everyone, no matter what party affiliation or background, wants more jobs, drinkable water, water for farmers, education, healthcare, public safety, economic development and more,” said Mr. Macareno. Latinos make up 60% of the district’s general population. Of the seven candidates running for the State Assembly, Mr. Macareno is the only Latino Democrat.

Council Member Rosaena Sanchez Endorses Kaelble for District Attorney

Lindsay City Council Member Rosaena Sanchez has announced her endorsement of Ralph F. Kaelble for Tulare County District Attorney. This is another key endorsement for Mr. Kaelble, who served as a Tulare County prosecutor for nearly 14 years and has been widely endorsed.

Mr. Kaelble has also been endorsed by six local law enforcement officer associations, including the Tulare County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the Tulare County Probation Association, as well as the Police Officer Associations of the Visalia, Lindsay, Dinuba and Exeter Police Departments, Visalia City Mayor Steve Nelsen, the Tule River Tribal Council, and El Centro Mexicano American Latinos.

On April 23rd from 5:30-8:30pm, Troy and Janette Korsgaden are hosting a reception to support the election of Mr. Kaelble. This event will be held at the private residence at Crawdaddys Restaurant, located at 333 East Main Street in Visalia. Tickets are $125 per person and can be purchased online at www.RFKforDA.com or by calling Kathy Looper at (559) 303-3029. All funds raised during this event will directly benefit the Ralph F. Kaelble forTulare County District Attorney 2014 campaign.


Tim Ward Receives Endorsement from Bill Wittman

Former Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman recently endorsed Tim Ward for Tulare County District Attorney. Mr. Ward is the acting appointed District Attorney. Mr. Wittman said in his endorsement letter that, “for years, Tim Ward has worked closely with the Sheriff’s Office in our efforts to protect the public we serve. Since assuming the office of District Attorney, Tim’s efforts have been even more impressive. As District Attorney, Tim has been completely dedicated to making the Rural Crime Program a success in protecting the farmers and ranchers of our county from the thieves who victimize them and endanger their farming operations. Tim Ward has proven himself to be tough on crime. He ably leads a great staff of prosecutors and investigators who work hand in hand with our outstanding Sheriffs department in holding criminals accountable for their crimes. I have every confidence in Tim’s ability to continue his excellent work as District Attorney.”

A Different Format for Chamber of Commerce Candidates’ Forum

On Wednesday, April 8th the Visalia Chamber of Commerce held a candidates’ forum at 7:00am. Fortunately, for democracy, there were eleven candidates, all of whom showed. Unfortunately, for the chamber, eleven were too many to conduct a traditional forum. Eleven tables were set up where each candidate could introduce themselves to a small group of people. The attendees could then spend ten minutes with the candidates of their choice. There was only time to go to four tables, so it made sense to focus on the District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s race.

Former Undersheriff Dave Whaley was there with his wife, Kathleen. There wasn’t enough time for even tasteful mudslinging, so no word was mentioned about the gun raffle. The main point Mr. Whaley wanted to make was that he had more experience than his competitor, not just in years, but in position and in responsibility. Mr. Whaley spent many years as the division commander, being in charge of 700 employees, an $80 million budget and four jails. While at the table of acting Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, Mr. Boudreaux stated that he was the sheriff of the future, pointing out that Mr. Whaley had been retired for five years. When technology changes every 72 hours, five years is a long time to be out of the swim. Mr. Boudreaux does seem to have a technological edge, and wins for best quote so far in the campaign. “When someone breaks into your house they leave the TV and steal your identification.”

While at appointed District Attorney Tim Ward’s table, I mentioned that the district attorney’s race is the most competitive because he and Mr. Kaelble seem so evenly matched. Mr. Ward emphatically said that “the differences between himself and Mr. Kaelble are night and day.” While working at the district attorney’s office, he was always promoted ahead of Mr. Kaelble. He was promoted as head prosecutor of the homicide team and then in 2007 worked with the DA in the Information Technology Department. He was appointed Assistant District Attorney in 2011. During the height of the recession, he was in charge of budget and personnel and put together a budget that did not lay anyone off. Mr. Ward said that as DA you don’t grab a case and go to court. “You need to use your management skills.”

Mr. Kaelble’s main message was that he worked his way up from being a maintenance worker in Temple City to being a lawyer and working at the DA’s office where he was employed for 14 years. He now has a private practice in Visalia on Main Street. His passion is working with juveniles. Mr. Kaelble feels that the DA shouldn’t just go to the Lion’s Club and Rotary to talk, but should get out into the schools.

At the end of the forum each candidate was given two minutes to state their case. Nothing much new was revealed, but if Toastmasters were giving out speaking awards they would go to Rudy Mendoza, Tim Ward and Mike Boudreaux.

Two is the Top

Remember the drama surrounding Andy Vidak and Leticia Perez’s special election for State Senate District 16 (Now District 14)? During the May 2013 primary, Mr. Vidak had jumped to an early lead on election night with almost 52% of the vote. Or had he? Republicans were calling Mr. Vidak senator-elect and Ms. Perez had even conceded the race. Supposedly, he had won the election outright with at least 50% plus one vote. But at the end of the week, Mr. Vidak had fallen short of an outright win by just 115 votes. The runoff between he and Ms. Perez took place in July, when Mr. Vidak went on to an easy, though expensive, victory.

After having our civics lesson about winning 50% plus one to avoid a runoff, we need to forget we ever learned it. Unbeknownst to me, the 50% plus one rule was being used last year only because it was a special election. Supposedly, the rules are different for a special election to help the district save money, which didn’t work, because it still cost the district a million dollars. The candidates themselves ended up spending $4.5 million, combined.
During a regular election there is no 50% plus one rule. The top two candidates go from the primary to the general election no matter how few or how many votes they get. So once again Mr. Vidak finds himself in another unique situation. He only has one competitor, Fresno School Board Member Luis Chavez. That means that the June primary is just a practice run and won’t mean anything. It doesn’t matter how many votes either of them get. Both will proceed to the general election in November.

Not so for the Tulare County District Attorney’s election or the Tulare County Sheriff’s election. Even though there are only two candidates in both races, their election will be over in June. Why? Because the DA and Sheriff’s races are non-partisan elections. The Top Two rule only applies for partisan offices such as the state assembly, or governor when candidates run as either a Democrat or a Republican or lesser party.

Proposition 14, passed in 2012, gives candidates who were not registered in one of the two major parties a chance to win. It also means that if two Republicans get the most votes during the primary, one won’t be knocked out by a Democrat who received fewer votes than either of them. Before Proposition 14, the top vote-getting candidate from each party went on to the general election, even if they came in third.

Two Statewide Offices May Go Republican

To the Democrats’ delight and the Republicans’ chagrin, all of California’s statewide offices are held by Democrats. That may change in November. Both the State Controller and Secretary of State have poll numbers that favor a Republican victory.

According to the recently published Field Poll, Ashley Swearengin is well ahead of her two better-known Democratic competitors with the backing of 28% of likely voters. Betty Yee, Board of Equalization member, has 19%, while Assembly Speaker John Perez has 14%. The fly in the ointment is that 38% of likely voters are undecided.

So how did a little-known mayor come in first over two seasoned candidates known throughout the state? According to the man behind the poll, Marc Di Camillo, “When you have multiple viable candidates on one side, it gives an early advantage to the other.” Mr. Di Camillo also described the voting public as 75% white, 67% over 50 years old and 37% Republican, thus guaranteeing Ms. Swearengin a good showing despite the fact that she has raised less than $100,000. Mr. DiCamillo added that “Swearengin is definitely benefitting from the fact that this will be a low-turnout election.” When Democrats swept the state offices two years ago, it was during a presidential election. Several of the races, such as Secretary of State, were too close to call for a week and would have never gone Democratic if it had been a midterm election.

In regard to the current Secretary of State election, another relative unknown, Republican Pete Peterson, leads the polls with the support of 30% of likely voters, with only 17% choosing Democrat State Senator Alex Padilla. The three other candidates came in behind by a large margin. According to Mr. Di Camillo, “Padilla appears to be the chief beneficiary of Leland Yee’s withdrawal. When Yee’s name was removed from the candidate list in the days following his arrest, support for Padilla increased seven points from 10% to 17%.” Not even Mr. Yee’s withdrawal though could make Mr. Padilla the front runner. The undecideds are an even bigger factor in this race, coming in at 41%.

Getting back to the Controller’s election –the most powerful statewide officeholder, Mr. Perez, must have thought he had this race all sewn up. The Fresno Bee also has just endorsed Ms. Yee and Ms. Swearengin as the more qualified candidates over Mr. Perez. But with $2.4 million in his war chest and a likely runoff with a little-known mayor, Mr. Perez is still the likely victor.

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