Is the Blue Wave real? In less than a week the nation will find out.
The following are my predictions for local and federal elections:
Congressional District 21: Democrat TJ Cox and Republican Congress Member David Valado
Mr. Valadao lives in a district that has a Democratic advantage of 16 points but they tend to be conservative Democrats. The popular Congress member and native son has never been seriously challenged and beat Democrat Emilio Huerta by 13 points in 2016.
Mr. Cox, on the other hand is not a local. He moved to Modesto to challenge Turlock Republican Jeff Denham in the 10th District, then, a few days before the filing deadline, he moved back to Fresno to challenge Mr. Valadao when Mr. Huerta dropped out of the race.
He still doesn’t live in the district but has several businesses here.
Mr. Valadao has a few pieces of baggage himself.
He wants to protect the Dreamers but his party does not. He wants to protect healthcare for his constituents but his party voted 70 times to repeal Obamacare. Mr. Valadao was strong-armed into voting for the Republican healthcare plan that would have eliminated protections for pre-existing conditions by making coverage too expensive and would have kicked 70,000 to 100,000 people off of their healthcare plan. The Republican plan was ultimately rejected by the Senate.
Mr. Valadao is a well liked representative who has remained accessible to his constituents. Even though California Republicans are under attack this election, I predict Mr. Valadao will do as well or better than in 2016 and win by 15 points.
Congressional District 22: Democrat Andrew Janz and Republican Congress member Devin Nunes
For the first time since 2002, Mr. Nunes is facing a serious challenger.
So what changed?
Mr. Nunes changed. The Republican Party changed. And so has the country.
In the last 10 years the country has made a paradigm shift from believing that healthcare is a privilege to believing it is a human right. The Republican Party is no longer the anti-deficit party, pro FBI, and won’t protect us against Russia.
And Mr. Nunes is not the fresh-faced, approachable Congressman he was just a few years ago. Unless you go to his church, or your kids attend the same school as his, constituents have to pay $2,700 and attend one of his fundraisers to talk to him. And that is only if you are invited.
As Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, he has also learned firsthand that there is no Democracy without a free press. But his 38-page glossy campaign mailer eviscerating the Fresno Bee seems to want the paper to fold.
Every image on the front and back cover was carefully weighed. The yacht with Fresno Bee written on the side is sinking, supposedly after writing about a suit against a Napa winery in which he is part owner. The bees, drinking the Kool-aid, wear pink pussy hats to mock the women’s movement. And the “resist” signs floating on the water mock the transgender movement by copying the color scheme of their flag.
Fresno is already the butt of Visalia’s jokes because powerful developers have created ugly sprawl and nearly ruined the city. What would happen if the only thing keeping the developers and politicians in check goes under?
How does handicapping or shuttering the Fresno Bee serve his constituents?
And the mega expensive mailer wasn’t even necessary. District 22 is one of last the truly Republican strongholds in California where Mr. Trump beat Ms. Clinton by 10 points, and Republican registration is 8 points over the Democrats. Mr. Nunes usually wins every two years, with the Fresno Bee’s endorsement, by more than 30 points, but current polls put him only winning by 6 points.
I predict the polls will prove to be mostly correct and Mr. Nunes will win 54% to 46%.
State Assembly District 26: Democrat Tulare City Council Member Jose Sigala and Republican incumbent Devon Mathis
It wasn’t until last week that I realized how dirty this campaign had become.
In October of 2017 someone started a whisper campaign against Mr. Sigala that he was arrested on domestic abuse charges while living with his wife in Los Angeles. His ex-wife put an end to the rumors a few weeks ago by issuing a statement that he never hit her, or any other woman, and that they are still friends.
Then Mr. Sigala implied through his mailers, and during the candidates forum, that Republican Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler informally endorsed him. That was pretty amusing, but not true.
Then, for the last few weeks, Tulare City Council member, Carlton Jones, Mr. Mathis’ doublemint twin, accused Mr. Sigala of missing meetings, criticized his trip to Sacramento supporting the Tulare Hospital, and accused him of campaigning on Tulare’s dime while at a conference in Long Beach.
Most recently, a new movement, Enough is Enough Voter Project organized by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, makes violence against women the number one voting issue. Ms. Dauber posted a slick video accusing Mr. Mathis of physical and sexual abuse of women.
I’m down with Enough is Enough making violence against women a voting issue, but there is one big problem.
The video about Mr. Mathis is misleading to the point of being false and needs to be taken down.
The video “He threatened to hit her” does touch on the fact that Mr. Mathis was reprimanded for locker room talk by the Assembly Rules Committee and had to attend sensitivity training. It also says that the Tulare County Republican Central Committee did not endorse Mr. Mathis.
That’s where the video and the truth part ways.
Ms. Dauber’s main source, former Chief of Staff Sean Doherty, was himself fired by the Assembly Rules Committee for sexual harassment. The accusations in the video about sexual assault committed by Mr. Mathis come from a lawsuit brought by Mr. Doherty that is in the process of being dismissed.
The other serious accusation, that Mr. Mathis raised a fist to a woman, was made by a close friend of Mr. Doherty, is uncorroborated, and was coordinated with Mr. Doherty’s lawsuit. From my research, both litigants appear to be out for revenge against Mr. Mathis.
With or without the video, Mr. Mathis is still going to win. Republicans out-register Democrats by 10 points and Mr. Trump beat Ms. Clinton by 11 points in District 26. Mr. Mathis beat his last Democrat opponent, Ruben Macareno, by 27 points in 2016.
Because of the mood I predict Mr. Mathis’ margin of victory will be cut down to 15 points.
Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) Superintendent: Craig Wheaton and Tim Hire
Mr. Wheaton is currently the TCOE Administrative Services Deputy Superintendent and before that he was the Superintendant of Visalia Unified School District (VUSD). His proudest accomplishment was raising the graduation rates from 80% to 94%.
Mr. Wheaton makes a point of highlighting that statistic because Mr. Hire has been the Superintendent of Exeter Union High School (EUHS) for the last 12 years. Their graduation rate is 83%, the second lowest in Tulare County.
But should Mr. Hire be held responsible?
I am probably the last person Mr. Hire would want to ask.
When we had school-aged kids we lived in Lemon Cove, which is in the Exeter Union High School District. Only one child out of our five successfully made it to graduation. My kids talked about screaming coming from the classrooms (by the teachers) bullying by popular cliques (parents who were former Monarchs) and inappropriate jokes about the students (again by the teachers.) There is so much more, but I don’t have room.
My second-oldest son, Alex, stayed through the end of his senior year even though he didn’t have the units to graduate. A few years after his time at EUHS, I ran into an assistant vice principal who had no idea Alex never graduated. This man was Alex’ counselor.
Alex’ best friend, Adam, also did not make the cut just days before the ceremony, and the teen’s parents weren’t notified until the day before graduation. Alex and Adam still went to the ceremony, but they just sat in the stands.
Personal experiences aside, Mr. Wheaton has more experience, is better known, and out-campaigned his opponent. I predict Mr. Wheaton wins by 15 – 20 points.
Tulare city council District 2 & 4: Dennis Mederos, Chris Harrell, District 4: Alex Gutierrez, Terry Sayre, District 2
With four qualified Tulare City Council candidates and the reopening of the hospital, Tulare seems to be back on track as one of the best small towns in America.
That’s good news for the Valley Voice because Tulare has been overwhelming our paper.
The four candidates each walked their district and reached out to their constituents, but two of them stand out from the rest in terms of ongoing political activity, public exposure, and name recognition–and that is Mr. Mederos and Mr. Gutierrez. I predict both of them will have easy wins Tuesday night.
Visalia City Council Election District 3, Merritt Wiseman, Brian Poochigian, Steve Woods
The Visalia City Council race has three qualified, thoughtful candidates with Mr. Woods’ positions on the issues slightly different from Ms. Wiseman’s and Mr. Poochigian’s. For more details on their positions please refer to the forum article on the front page.
Because they are such good candidates, the scales of victory are going to be tipped by name recognition.
Mr. Poochigian has the highest name recognition because several cousins hold office in Fresno and Kings Counties. He also ran for Tulare County Supervisor in 2016, and is much more polished and trim than he was two years ago.
Ms. Wiseman comes in a close second in terms of name recognition and radiates with charisma. Mr. Woods likely is the least well-known, ran a more sedate campaign, and will probably come in third.
So with hardly any light between the three, I did what I normally do when I can’t make a prediction–I take a poll.
I went to the heart of their district at the Save Mart on Akers and Walnut and learned few things. One: that people in Hanford and the farmer’s market are much nicer. Two: West Visalia is woefully uninformed.
After polling a very uncooperative 40 people the winner was “I am not going to tell you” or “I don’t know who is running.”
I even had four people tell me they voted, but couldn’t remember for who, even when I refreshed their memory.
Then some of my respondents asked which candidate was Republican. One said, “Well, Poochigian must be a Republican because all the Armenians are.” When I responded that this was a non-partisan office I got blank stares.
The final tally was: 29 people refused to respond, didn’t know or couldn’t remember: 5 voted for Mr. Poochigian: 4 for Ms. Wiseman: and 2 for Mr. Woods.
So I am not going to make a prediction. I’ll just rant.
The national stage, dominated by President Trump, is affecting local elections.
We have two sitting Supreme Court Justices who have been accused of sexually harassing or sexual assault and four male justices appointed by two presidents who did not win the popular vote.
We have an all-male Republican judicial committee in the senate scoffing at a sexual assault victim, and a president saying it’s a dangerous time right now to be a young man in America, and a United States Supreme Court Justice who lied under oath more times than I have room in this column to list.
The bottom line is the United States is missing out on the perspective and wisdom of half the country’s population.
If women held 50% of elected office we wouldn’t have to explain why everyone’s health insurance should include maternity benefits or why a 15-year-old girl is not going to report a sexual assault.
So everyone in District 3 needs to vote for Merritt Wiseman. And If Ms. Wiseman beats her challengers on the backs of their gender then I only have one thing to say to Brian and Steve.
Welcome to the club.