Vote Early and Vote Often
During the March 15 Tulare County District Attorney (DA)Forum the moderator, Dennis Smith, talked about a strange happening during his campaign for Tulare County Supervisor.
In 2016, he competed against seven highly qualified candidates for District 1, where the top two candidates from the June primary proceeded to the general election.
Mr. Smith came in first by 65 votes over Strathmore native Kyuler Crocker, who came in second.
On election night, November 8, Mr. Smith was leading by 200 votes. But for each update his lead shrank until Mr. Crocker took over the lead and won by only 295 votes.
After the election, Mr. Smith went to the Tulare County Registrar of Voters and purchased a disc that contained all the public information concerning who voted in the election.
Mr. Smith put the data on a Microsoft Excel program and discovered something shocking. Someone had voted twice in the primary, and it didn’t look like a mistake.
He took a print out of his data to the Registrar’s office and showed manager Ann Turner what he had found. Ms. Turner agreed the data indicated the person voted twice, retrieved the two ballots, and compared their signatures.
And sure enough they matched.
Mr. Smith brought it up at the forum to ask David Alavezos, the Assistant DA, if this was a matter for his office. It ends up that voting irregularities are handled by the California Secretary of State.
When the forum ended I pressured Mr. Smith to tell me who voted twice.
You could tell by his face that he was still surprised, but the voter was Patricia Crocker – Tulare County Supervisor Kuyler Cocker’s mother.
Hmm, I wonder who she voted for?
The data indicated that Ms. Crocker had two active voter registrations, one under Patty the Democrat, and the other under Patricia the Republican. The result being she ended up with two ballots, which I doubt was her intention, but she still could have restrained from using both of them.
As soon as Ms. Turner discovered the two active registrations she red tagged Ms. Crocker’s earlier registration, meaning if she tried to do it again her second vote would not count.
I spoke with Emily Oliveira at the Registrars’ office to get an update on the investigation. She said the Tulare County Registrar’s office normally sends about 30 – 50 cases every election, along with all the other counties, to the Secretary of State office. Given that there are 58 counties, it takes the Secretary’s office a long time to evaluate each case.
“There are one or two major reasons people vote twice,” she said. “One is when elderly voters get their ballot early, mail it in, then forget they voted and ask the registrar for another ballot.”
This would not be the case with Ms. Crocker. Not only is she not elderly, she is an elected official herself.
Ms. Crocker is currently a trustee of the Strathmore Elementary School Board and has been re-elected several times. She is familiar with the election process and all the paperwork that needs to be filled out during an election and after an individual takes office.
It could have been an innocent mistake that Ms. Crocker voted twice.
But it’s just too coincidental that on top of being an elected official she is also the winner’s mother.
And I do not believe in coincidences.
Ms. Oliveira has not heard back from the Secretary of State office and didn’t expect them to specifically address Ms. Crocker’s case.
Did Dolores Huerta lose the 21st Congressional District for Democrats?
California has 53 seats in the House of Representatives, and all of them are up for re-election this November. There are 115 Democrats running for those seats, but most of the Democrats are concentrated in Republican-held districts with the goal to flip them from red to blue.
Rep. Devin Nunes (CA22) has never had a serious challenger since he was first elected in 2002, but now is facing three viable Democrats. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA23) is facing four Democrats and Rep. Jeff Denham (CA10) is facing 6 Democrats.
How many Democrats is Rep. David Valadao (CA21) facing?
One – barely.
After running an anemic campaign, Emilio Huerta withdrew with barely enough time for the Democrats to find a replacement. Now Mr. Huerta has been replaced by an equally week candidate, entrepreneur TJ Cox, who switched races at the last minute from CA10 to CA 21.
How is it possible that in the most vulnerable Republican Congressional District in California there is only one weak Democratic challenger?
Did labor organizer Dolores Huerta lose the 21st District for Democrats for the 2018 election?
According to Sara Wire of the Los Angeles Times, “Elected officials, local activists and other congressional sources said Huerta is having pointed conversations to try to make sure her son, Emilio Huerta, is the only Democrat challenging Republican Rep. David Valadao.”
Mr. Huerta protested Ms. Wire’s article, but political insiders have since confirmed Ms. Wire’s reporting.
Mr. Huerta did not give a reason for withdrawing from the race, but because of his mother’s alleged actions, Rep. Valadao almost went unchallenged.
In a normal election that wouldn’t be surprising for a popular hometown boy such as Rep. Valadao. In 2010 Rep. Nunes ran unopposed.
But in a year when women, students, Hispanics, Blacks, Dreamers, and many other groups have been protesting Donald Trump’s Presidency, it’s almost incomprehensible that a California Republican go unchallenged.
It was rumored that Mr. Huerta left the race because of a lack of campaign cash. But Mr. Cox isn’t rolling in money either, with only $280,000 to Mr. Valadao’s million.
In addition, when Mr. Cox’ ran against George Radanovich (CA 19) in 2006 he nearly ran out of cash with campaign debts totaling nearly $435,000.
To sum it up, the Democratic challenger for CA 21 went from Mr. Huerta, a Hispanic, middle aged man, with little cash and a poorly run campaign who doesn’t live in the district, to Mr. Cox, a White, middle-aged man, with little cash and a poorly run campaign who also doesn’t live in the district.
But there is more
According to a 2006 article written by Jim Robinson from the FlashReport, “Terrance J. (“T.J.”) Cox, was sued for fraud in Texas before moving to California four years ago (2002)….. According to court records filed by Atkins Production Services, Inc. in Tarrant County, Texas, Cox ‘manipulated and cooked the books of his companies to fraudulently sell the businesses and fraudulently obtain an inflated price for the businesses.’
In addition to Cox, others named in the August 1, 2002 suit were T.J. Cox, Inc. and The Framing Solution, two companies owned by Cox while living in Texas. The suit… charged that Cox falsified records when he told the new owner his businesses were profitable and debt free.”
According to the Mercury News Cox was sued again in 2007 when his real estate firm sold a Fresno storage unit property to A-American Self Storage, a storage chain. “A-American later discovered leaks and other problems in the roof that led to water damage in the facility and filed for arbitration against Cox’s company.”
The arbitrator found that Cox knew about the roof problems at the time of the sale and ordered CMSS to pay A-American more than $1.3 million for breach of contractual warranty.
In 2015, Mr. Cox’ lawyers sued him for not paying his legal bills, and a judge ordered him to pay more than $49,000, including interest, according to Fresno County court records.
Also according to the Mercury News, “Cox and his wife, Kathleen, were also hit with an IRS tax lien last year for $48,362 in unpaid income tax, county records show.”
After Mr. Huerta won unanimous support from the California Democratic Central Committee before he withdrew from the race, the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections all rate the clearly Democrat-leaning District 21 as likely going Republican.
I think that’s likely too.
Justin Mendes Has a Change of Heart
In June of 2017, Hanford Councilmember Justin Mendes announced he would not be seeking re-election in 2018. Mendes was elected to represent District E in 2014 and was Mayor of Hanford in 2016.
His reasons were that he was spending too much time with city council duties and that it was taking away from time with his young family.
Fast forward to March 2018, and Mr. Mendes announced that he is running for the 32nd Assembly District against Assemblyman Rudy Salas.
Mr. Mendes told the Hanford Sentinel that “now his young boys are a little bit older (one is nearly 4 years old and the other is 1 year old), he and his wife are getting a little more sleep than they used to, and he believes he’s ready to take on this responsibility.”
I have a newsflash for Mr. Mendes: In no universe are four-year-old and one-year-old boys considered “older.”
Also, the duties of an assembly member will keep him away from his family for most of the month while in Sacramento, versus the weekly meetings and occasional duties of a Hanford Council member.
While Mr. Mendes was an engaged and effective council member, those sitting in the audience saw his tenure on the dais as merely a stepping stone to higher office. So, while it may have been a surprise to Mr. Mendes, few Hanfordites were taken by surprise by his announcement to run for the assembly.
And he found a platform.
Leading up to his announcement after the March 6 city council meeting, Mr. Mendes told a story about how he recently found out that a registered sex offender lived next door to his son’s home day-care.
According to the Hanford Sentinel, “Georgia Hall, the day-care provider, said every place she called, including the Hanford Police Department, Senator Andy Vidak’s office and Salas’ office, said they would look into the matter.”
Mr. Mendes also paid a visit to Mr. Salas’ office and said he was unresponsive to the day-care’s concerns. Mr. Salas disagrees with Mr. Mendes’ statement, saying he has “been fully engaged in exploring every legal avenue. If none exists, we will change the law,” according to the Sentinel.
State Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) quickly responded to the news and announced he is amending his Senate Bill 1143 to prevent sex offenders from secretly moving in next door to schools, parks, and child care centers.
Mr. Salas has held his assembly seat since 2012, roundly beating his Republican challengers every time. During the 2016 election he won by 30 points.
But Mr. Mendes has worked for Rep David Valadao (CA 21) for four years, with the last year as his District Director. He is considered one of the more qualified Republican candidates in Kings County, probably right behind Mr. Valadao.
Mr. Mendes will also have the advantage of piggy backing on Mr. Valadao’s fundraising prowess. He already has a fundraiser scheduled at the Hanford Fox Theater for April 17 for $125 a ticket.
Or you could buy a sponsorship from between $1000 and $4,400.
The 32nd Assembly District closely mirrors the 21st Congressional District. Both encompass all of Kings County and the Kern County communities of Arvin, Delano, Lamont, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco and part of the city of Bakersfield.
I doubt Mr. Salas is going to walk away from this election with a 30 point win. If the Republicans have any chance at flipping a Democrat held assembly seat this is it.