Turning Back the Blue Wave
Republicans have set their sights on winning back the seven California congressional seats they lost in 2018 and sending President Donald Trump back to Washington in 2020.
Congressional District 21, formerly held by David Valadao, is a primary target. Congress Member TJ Cox won the district by only 1000 votes and GOP leaders are going all out to try to show that the Democratic wins were one-off aberrations that won’t be repeated in 2020.
They aren’t making it too easy on themselves though.
A popular strategy political parties use to get their voters to the polls is to identify a wedge issue and get it on the ballot.
Proposition 8, an anti-same sex marriage ballot measure in 2008, was one of those wedge issues. The proposition ended up winning shocking both the state and nation, but it wasn’t enticing enough for Republicans to stop California from voting for President Barrack Obama.
Proposition 6, the gas tax repeal on the 2018 ballot, was a Republican strategy to suppress the Blue Wave. The proposition lost by 10 points and Republicans lost all seven seats targeted by the Democrats, but it was a yeoman’s try.
For the current election one of the most powerful wedge issues has literally landed in the Democrats’ laps with no effort on their part. In a very consequential 2020 election on the horizon Republicans have put abortion on every state’s ballot.
If there is one issue California Republicans precisely do not want to talk about or have on the ballot, it’s abortion. The prospect of repealing Roe Vs Wade may draw out the Republicans in Alabama, but the GOP can forget about flipping back those lost congressional districts in California and may even lose a few more.
When interviewing candidates such as former State Assembly Member Connie Conway or Congress Member Devin Nunes, the subject of same sex marriage or abortion was never broached. Once when the subject came up in casual conversation, Ms. Conway said there is no need for candidates to discuss abortion or marriage equality because it was settled law in California.
The Blue Wave brought out hundreds of thousands of Democrats to the polls in 2018 who normally sit on their duffs. What do Republicans think is going to happen with Roe Vs Wade on the chopping block?
How passionate are these voters?
Imagine if a man had to carry his molester’s baby to term or live in poverty because he was forced to give birth multiple times. Abortion would be available on demand and free. Now pretend that right being taken away from men and you will have a good idea how the Blue Wave, as Mr. Trump likes to say, “just got ten feet taller.”
Access to abortion is not literally on the ballot, but every Democrat will vote in 2020 to make sure Mr. Trump can’t appoint one more Supreme Court Justice. And while filling out their ballot, they aren’t likely to vote for a Republican to fill their congressional seat.
And that brings us to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the subject of Impeachment.
Impeach Mr. Trump? That guy is gold to have on the ballot for the Democrats and Ms. Pelosi, along with a handful of Democrats, get it.
A botched impeachment attempt could cost them not only the House majority, but also the White House.
A successful impeachment would mean the Democrat’s largest lightening rod in history is off the ballot.
Because Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory was so shocking no one wants to predict he will lose in 2020. But we need to remember that he lost the popular vote by 3 million and won the Electoral College by a mere 70,000 combined votes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan in a country of 330,000,000.
I don’t think even Russia will be able to help him this time.
Slapp Happy Part II
The April 4th Political Fix concerned four legal cases involving a little known or understood California law, anti-SLAPP. I thought it was mildly interesting because the law was in play in three rural towns situated along Highway 198.
The towns were Hanford, Lemoore, and Coalinga, and each case was unique but similar in the way the government tried to quiet their critics. At the end of Political Fix in the comment section, coincidentally, or not, all the commenters were from Coalinga.
Granted, a majority of the 163 comments were written by four social media obsessed Coalinga residents, but still, the number was a record for Political Fix.
One commenter, not part of the gang of four, was Dave M, who had been blocked from some of my acquaintances’ websites and came close in years past to being blocked from ours. In the spirit of free speech we messaged him with the request to chill out. He kind of did and we didn’t block him.
So to have Dave M be the sound of reason and inject a little comic relief into the thread of comments says something about the lack of civility going on in Coalinga.
I normally refrain from commenting on any social media or websites but the dialogue was so ridiculous I felt it harmless to pepper the conversation with a few clever quips– that were immediately ignored so the good residents of Coalinga could continue tearing each other apart.
Stranger still, the former editor of the Coalinga Recorder, who normally maintains a position of restraint, wrote lengthy, unhinged, hard-to-follow manifestos. The comments eventually got so rancorous and petty we shut them down.
For those who might have forgotten, a SLAPP suit is a Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation and the governments of Hanford, Lemoore and Coalinga had brought these suits against their own residents in the form of Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO). The suspected purpose of the TROs was to keep their critics quiet.
California passed legislation to protect these citizens who have been SLAPPed.
Here is an update on those residents who fought back by filing an anti-SLAPP suit.
The Lemoore anti-SLAPP suit first reported in February was settled on April 25th and was a complete victory for Lemoore City Council Member Holly Blair. Ms. Blair had been censured by her fellow city council and the city filed a TRO to stop her from criticizing the police, administration, and council.
Not only did the city have to rescind Ms. Blair’s censure and drop the restraining order, but the City of Lemoore was ordered to pay $38,000 for Ms. Blair’s legal fees.
The Hanford case is still active and involves resident Mike Quinn and Carnegie Museum Director Patricia Dickerson. Ms. Dickerson was granted a restraining order in March against Mr. Quinn for several reasons, one of which was that he criticizes her and the museum at city council meetings. Mr. Quinn responded by filing an anti-SLAPP suit against Ms. Dickerson.
This case is a bit more complicated than Lemoore’s. Hanford subsidizes the museum, but that may or may not qualify the Carnegie as a government entity, and Ms. Dickerson may not be considered a public figure. The judge may interpret the case as a civil squabble.
The restraining order has been modified but upheld against Mr. Quinn and the case has been continued until July 1.
Coalinga had two anti-SLAPP suits working their way through the system and one has been closed.
Two TROs were filed by the City of Coalinga against resident Greg Cody last Christmas: one on behalf of City Council Member Adam Adkisson and the other on behalf of his friend, Robin Scott, who volunteers for the city in code enforcement.
Mr. Cody responded by filing two anti-SLAPP suits against Coalinga.
The city lost its case concerning Ms. Scott a few weeks ago. It had to lift the TRO against Mr. Cody and pay his legal fees.
According to the Memorandum of Costs filed by the Law Offices of Melo and Sarsfield and, the fees and costs added up to $2779.97. Coalinga is paying much less than Lemoore because the Holly Blair case involved several days of mediation and a negotiated settlement agreement.
Mr. Cody lost his anti-SLAPP suit against Mr. Adkisson and the judge upheld the restraining order against him.
Mr. Sarsfield filed an appeal to the ruling on May 13. The appeal on Mr. Cody’s ant-SLAPP suit will be heard sometime next year.
The legal wrangling in Coalinga has reached beyond the courtroom.
In a possible act of retaliation against Mr. Cody’s filing his anti-SLAPP suits, Mr. Adkisson filed a resolution to censure Mr. Cody’s friend, Coalinga Council Member Tanya Stolz.
Mr. Adkisson requested putting on the May 16 agenda “approving a Public Censure of Council Member Tanya Stolz.”
In wording very similar to Ms. Blair’s censure in Lemoore, the resolution stated that Ms. Stoltz, “Engaged in conduct unbecoming a City Council Member; and engaged in conduct which has brought embarrassment and discredit to the City Council.” Mr. Adkisson also claimed that Ms. Stoltz, “released information received during closed session.”
The censure, among other things, would have removed Ms. Stolz from all presently assigned committees and expelled her from all future closed session items on any agenda.
During the city council’s discussion of the resolution Ms. Stoltz defended herself from the dais. She said that Mr. Adkisson had a history of domestic violence and abuse of power and that he was flat out lying about her revealing information from closed session.
She said that Mr. Adkisson was taking a page out of what happened in Lemoore in censuring the only woman on the council. She then reminded the audience that Lemoore Mayor Ray Madrigal, who spearheaded Ms. Blair’s censure, was then resoundingly voted out of office in November.
In an anti-climactic end to these serious accusations on both sides, Coalinga Mayor Ron Lander asked for a motion for the resolution to censure Ms. Stoltz.
Mr. Adkisson moved to approve the resolution but then no one else on the council seconded the motion.
So the censure died without even going to a vote.
On a final note concerning anti-SLAPP suits, readers might recall that Congress Member Devin Nunes filed a $150 million defamation lawsuit against McClatchy for an article about Alpha Omega Winery, a company that Mr. Nunes partly owns. He also filed a $250 million suit against Devin Nunes’ Cow, Twitter, and political consultant Liz Mair.
In his lawsuit he states, “In 2018, during his last re-election for the 22nd Congressional District, Nunes endured an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life,” the lawsuit claimed. “Unlike prior elections, where Nunes won by sweeping majorities, Nunes won on November 6, 2018, by a much narrower margin, receiving 52.7 percent of the 222,379 votes. The malicious, false and defamatory statements and relentless attacks on Nunes’ reputation did not stop after he won the Congressional election in 2018. The defamation continues. It must be stopped.”
So why didn’t Mr. Nunes file his lawsuits in California, where he is from, and Twitter is based? Because Virginia doesn’t have Anti-SLAPP laws and California does.
Though mightily thin-skinned, Mr. Nunes is still at the top of his game.