Political Fix (3 November, 2016)

Election Predictions

Political pundits are past the point of predicting who will win or lose the election and have moved to discussing how badly. Hilary Clinton’s emails are back in the news but so is the fact that Russian Premier Vladamir Putin is chomping at the bit to get Donald Trump elected. The Upshot, a New York Times election forecasting site, says that Ms. Clinton has a 90% chance of winning. As of press date, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website predicts that Ms. Clinton will win 68 more electoral votes than Donald Trump.

The fallout for a huge presidential defeat will land on the shoulders of the down-ballot Republicans. As recently as July, Republicans had a firm grip on the Senate majority, but that grip has slipped away with every 3am Trump tweet. FiveThirtyEight now puts the Democrat’s chances of gaining control of the Senate at 71%. The Upshot puts their chances at 61%.

To regain control, the Democrats have to net four seats in the Senate and win the presidency.

In California, Mr. Trump has the support of only 28% of likely voters. According to the San Jose Mercury News, “Twenty-eight percent is uncharted territory,” he said,(a Republican operative) noting that the worst showing by a Republican presidential nominee in California was Alfred Landon, who won 31% of the vote in 1936. John McCain and Mitt Romney each won 37%.”

Mr. Trump’s low numbers are dragging down several Republican state assembly races because unenthusiastic GOP voters will decide not to vote. Democrats are now poised to regain a supermajority in the state assembly and need to win just two out of seven competitive Assembly seats.

With a supermajority, Democrats would be able to raise taxes, override vetoes and put constitutional measures on the ballot without a single Republican vote. Not that any of this will happen, because the Democrats will probably bicker too much amongst themselves. But a supermajority does earn bragging rights.

As of last week, 2.5 million Californians have returned their ballot – 47% Democrat and 32% Republican.

Converse to the rest of California, Tulare County candidates can’t win unless they are Republican, and Mr. Trump has had little or no effect on that fact. No Democrat holds an elected office higher than city council, and those are few and far between. In fact, because of the top-two primary, occasionally we have two Republican candidates running for the same office, as is happening in the race for Tulare County Supervisor.

Congressional District 21

Congressman David Valadao is being challenged by Civil Rights Lawyer Emilio Huerta, son of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta. District 21 comprises Kings County and parts of Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties.

Mr. Valadao appreciates the fact that the congressional district is 46.7% registered Democrat to 30.5% Republican. It is also 71% Hispanic. Mr. Valadao’s victories are impressive because both of his past opponents were Hispanic and Democrat and so is Mr. Huerta.

So, how does Mr. Valadao do it? You could say that the 21st District thinks outside the box.

First, we aren’t talking about your typical California Democrat. We are talking about Central Valley Democrats, and they tend to be more conservative. Second, older Hispanics tend to be conservative and have no problem voting Republican when the Republican Party isn’t lead by Mr. Trump or the California governor isn’t trying to pass an anti-immigrant proposition like Prop 187. Lastly, Mr. Valadao grew up in Hanford and is a favorite son, so no Democrat is going to beat him in Kings County.

My prediction is that Mr. Valadao will win by his normally large margin.

Congressional District 22

Congressman Devin Nunes is being challenged by college student, activist, and chef Louis Campos. This district encompasses most of Tulare County and a corner of Fresno County around Clovis.

There is no Trump factor happening in District 22, as happening in other Congressional districts. Three Republican incumbents are facing competitive House races, Jeff Denham, Steve Knight and Darrell Issa. Some analysts put Mr. Valadao on that list too. In the last few weeks Cooks Political Report reclassified the above mentioned three districts from “leans Republican” to “toss up.”

Democrats need to win 30 seats to retake the House, which is not going to happen, but they are trying to make a dent in California.

Congressional District 22 will most likely be one of the few districts in California to happily vote for Mr. Trump, and Rep. Nunes has endorsed him for president. I can imagine the congressman crossing his fingers, though, behind his back, while making his endorsement. I’d bet that Rep. Nunes is already focused on 2020 and strategizing how the Republican Party can avoid another Donald Trump fiasco and make sure Ms. Clinton a one-term president.

I predict Rep. Nunes will win by his normally large margin.

State Assembly District 26

Incumbent Devon Mathis is being challenged by Democrat Publisher Ruben Macareno. The district encompasses almost all of Tulare County, Inyo County and a part of Kern County.

Mr. Macareno might get a bump in votes because Democrats and Hispanics show up for presidential elections, but it won’t be enough for a win. In addition, Mr. Macareno ruffled some feathers as Chair of the Tulare County Democrat Central Committee, and is not
universally liked by local Democrats.

The bottom line is that Mr. Mathis attracted the Democrat vote in the 2014 election when running against fellow Republican Rudy Mendoza. Some of those Democrats might vote for him again. Mr. Mathis has also become a Tea Party darling by cozying up to prominent members of the Central Valley Tea Party and fighting against SB277, the mandatory childhood vaccination bill.

Anyone who can successfully court the Democrat vote and the Tea Party vote at the same time might have questionable integrity, but he will win the election – at least this one.

Tulare County Supervisor District 1

Dennis Smith and Kuyler Crocker are running for Tulare County Board of Supervisors District 1, left open by Supervisor Allen Ishida. The district encompasses East Visalia, Exeter, Lindsay/Strathmore and Three Rivers.

Two Republicans running for the same seat makes predicting an outcome complicated.

To help my prediction I conducted an informal survey by email and one in front of local Savemarts. That actually made things worse because it ended up in a tie. But the comments netted some pretty interesting insights.

While standing in front of the Savemarts in Lindsay and Exeter, fully expecting to be escorted off the property any minute, those who supported Mr. Smith did so because they had done business with him or because of his experience. Those voting for Mr. Crocker were doing so because they knew his family.

One lady said she couldn’t decide for whom to vote because she knew Mr. Crocker’s family but had received a hand signed letter from Mr. Smith.

Another interesting detail is my email contacts who live in District 1 leaned heavily for Mr. Smith while the Savemart shoppers leaned heavily towards Mr. Crocker.

There is no denying that when Mr. Smith speaks it resonates with Tulare County voters.

Mr. Crocker’s words may not have the same impact, but his name sure does. Given his name recognition, the fact he raised tons of money, and that he grew up in the same town as the current sitting supervisor, I’m going to go with my first instinct I had a year ago and predict a win for Mr. Crocker.

As the cashier at Savemart said, “He is a fellow Spartan.” I guess that goes a lot further in District 1 than being a former Redwood Ranger.

Visalia City Council District 1

Supervisor Phil Cox and Executive Director of the Workforce Investment Board Adam Peck are running for the city council seat left open by Amy Shuklian. Ms. Shuklian beat Mr. Cox in the race for Tulare County Supervisor District 3, and if Mr. Cox wins, they will have traded seats. City Council District 1 sits in the heart of Visalia.

Mr. Cox has plenty of name recognition because he has held public office since 2001, when first elected to the Visalia City Council. But his name is also synonymous with the state of Mooney Grove Park. Many people blame his leadership, or lack thereof, for the deterioration of the park that sits in Mr. Cox’ district.

He blamed the drought. But the drought didn’t leave dead animals and trash in the pond, break the picnic tables, crack the sidewalks, ruin the barbeque pits and decorative rock wall, rust the bridge, or create a one inch thick layer of goose poop on the walkways. Mismanagement did.

And the citizens of Tulare County are still wondering why Mooney Grove was left in such a state of neglect while all of Visalia’s and Tulare’s parks have remained beautiful.

Mr. Cox was also head cheerleader for getting rid of the Mooney Grove cats. Tulare County Park policy for the last 20 years was to pay Tulare County Animal Control to round up and put down the feral and abandoned cats. This costs the county hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After three years of Soviet-style hoop jumping, the Visalia Feral Cat Coalition (VFCC) was finally allowed in the park to deal with Mooney Grove’s cats for free. Why, you ask, did the VFCC have to fight to provide the county a professional service for free? That is a very good question.

Mr. Cox and Tulare County Parks Director Neil Pilegard’s behavior in regards to the park has caused a lot of head scratching and raised some serious red flags. His actions probably cost him his seat on the Board of Supervisors. It may cost Mr. Cox the city council election also.

I predict Adam Peck will walk away with the election.

Visalia City Council District 2

Incumbent Bob Link is being challenged by retired manager Susanne Gundy and retired fire fighter Adam Arakelian. This district comprises the south east portion of Visalia.

Ms. Gundy would be a good replacement for Ms. Shuklian as an animal advocate, but neither she nor Mr. Arakelian have the name recognition that Mr. Link does. It is also believed, even by his challengers, that Mr. Link has done a good job serving the city.

This will be an easy win for Mr. Link.

Tulare Regional Medical Center Board

I didn’t want to spill anymore ink on the Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC) but wanted to write something for the Tulare voters.

It seems that all those people who were against the $55 million hospital bond, and who had “hate in their hearts” according to Dr. Parmod Kumar, might have been on to something. Dr. Benny Benzeevi, CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, just announced that, actually, the hospital doesn’t need the $55 million dollar bond to finish the tower. There are other forms of financing that just magically surfaced.

During the October Tulare candidates’ forum, TRMC Board member Sherrie Bell proclaimed “we need change.”

I couldn’t agree more. Kevin Northcraft and Michael Jamaica are the two challengers and I am placing my bets on them.

A Health Care Rant

Republicans love bad news. They wait for news that the economy is tanking or unemployment is going up, neither of which has happened in years. But now they get the bad news they have been waiting for: health care premiums are going up by 116% in some states.

Skyrocketing premiums should be a campaign issue, but it is the fault of the Democrats and Republicans. Republicans have been in control of the House and Senate since 2010, and could have made it a priority to put together and pass their own affordable healthcare plan.

And who is to say that healthcare premiums would not have gone up 116% anyway? Our healthcare system did not work before Obamacare, and it does not work now.

For those parts of Obamacare that do work, get ready for a crash landing after federal subsidies run out. When there are no more subsidies, small business owners, the self employed, and middle income families will be faced with $2000 a month premiums and $6000 deductibles and everyone will drop their health insurance.

On a side bar to my rant – I never understood health care insurance through your job. What if you get too sick to work and lose your job? What happens if you get fired because you are sick? If you think that doesn’t happen then you have lived a privileged and sheltered life.

Let me take the rant a little further and talk about something Right-to-Lifers never will tell you. The last person who is ever going to see a doctor in this country is a sick uninsured pregnant woman who does not qualify for medi-care. She is like medical malpractice napalm and will not get past the receptionist on the phone.

The mother will have to figure out quickly, all while being sick and pregnant, if the cost of a trip to the emergency room will ruin her family’s finances.

The emergency room is not free, like many people with access to health care delude themselves into thinking. And if you cannot pay your bills you will either have to declare bankruptcy, lose your home, or both, all with a new baby in tow.

The reality in my family is that my mom’s cat has a doctor but my daughter does not. Mercedes, who is a high school senior, has never had a doctor and I have not had or seen a general practitioner since I was 17.

I’m glad my parents and siblings have unlimited access to healthcare because they have had medical issues. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little bit bitter. If we lived in any other developed country my son and daughter would have a doctor and I would not have to worry.

What I have learned in my 54 years on this earth is – if you get sick you will recover with or without a doctor – or you will die and the system, and maybe even a few family members, won’t care.

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