Political Fix (20 February, 2020)

Primary Predictions 2020

It’s Super Tuesday March 3 and the local races have turned out to be as exciting as the Primary.

As of February 18 only 5.7% of Californians had returned their mail-in ballot and most of those are Republicans. That’s because Democrats are watching the debates and primary returns before voting to see if their preferred candidate is still viable.

California takes its time counting each vote so I anticipate a long election night. Here are my predictions for the local races.

Tulare County Supervisor District 3

Incumbent Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian is being challenged by Brad Maaske.

Tulare County Board of Supervisors (TCBOS) District 3 will be decided March 3. The candidate who receives the most votes will win outright.

Though this was the most interesting race on which to report, it was not the hardest to predict.

A dispassionate look at the numbers shows Mr. Maaske has a very slim chance of becoming supervisor. Ms. Shuklian is the incumbent, has raised three times as much money, handily beat an incumbent four years ago, and has received all the endorsements except for one elected official, and I’ll get to that later.

Another factor that limits Mr. Maaske’s chances is that he declared himself “The Conservative Choice.” Add this to his checkered past and the pool of possible voters has narrowed indeed.

But Mr. Maaske has made the case to mollify wary voters, stating that his history is irrelevant for three reasons. First, God has forgiven him. Second, everyone has a past, and, third, it’s in his past.

Like much of what Mr. Maaske says there are elements of truth and falsehoods in his statement.

I’m sure it’s true God has forgiven Mr. Maaske for his past, but that doesn’t make him qualified, or not, to hold public office.

Second, this is not his past. He still drinks, he has a restricted real estate license, he is currently being investigated by the Fair Political Practices Committee, and got off probation just a few weeks before filing to run for office.

Third, I call baloney on “everyone has a past.”

In the six years of doing research on dozens of politicians I have only found three who have a “past.”One of them is Mr. Maaske’s only relevant endorser, Assemblymember Devon Mathis. The other two are Tulare City Council members Carlton Jones and Greg Nunley.

Anyone surprised?

Lastly, I have a huge bone to pick with this race.

A self-appointed political vigilante, who I will not name, sent me via a friend a picture of Ms. Shuklian posing with one of her supporters. Along with the picture he included a report of a blood alcohol test proving that this supporter was caught driving drunk.

The picture of Ms. Shuklian with a supporter convicted of a DUI was clearly meant to discredit her and is only one example of the smear campaign conducted against Ms. Shuklian during this election.

Unlike Warren Gubler, a State Assembly candidate in 2018, who rarely associated with people who smoked, drank, got stoned, or had been arrested, these people are our neighbors, friends and family. But that doesn’t mean it’s our life. Nor is it Ms. Shuklian’s.

And let’s all remember the impeccable Mr. Gubler lost, took his ball, and moved to New Zealand.

My prediction: Amy Shuklian will win 60% of the vote at the absolute least.

Tulare County Board of Supervisors District 1

Tulare County Supervisor Kuyler Crocker is being challenged by Larry Micari and Robyn Stearns. The top two will most likely go on to the November 3 General Election unless one of the candidates receives over 50% of the vote.

Because there isn’t much political light between the three candidates, this has not been the most riveting of elections to cover. But it has been the most difficult to predict.

Looking strictly at the numbers, Ms. Stearns will most likely not be one of the top two to proceed to the General Election. She has raised the least amount of money, did the least campaigning, and has the fewest endorsements.

It also doesn’t help her fiscally conservative message that she handed over a quarter of her funds to campaign manager Phil Cox. With her political experience she could have easily run her own campaign as did Dennis Smith in 2016. And Mr. Smith had never run for office.

So far as Mr. Micari and Mr. Crocker, they are neck and neck.

Mr. Crocker will be tough to beat as the incumbent, but both candidates have raised about the same amount of money and both have a long list of endorsements.

But those criteria all come with an asterisk.

Yes, Mr. Crocker is the incumbent–but he narrowly beat Mr. Smith four years ago when Mr. Smith had few endorsements, no money, and hadn’t been anointed by former Supervisor Allen Ishida as was Mr. Crocker. In fact, the election was so close the registrar’s office didn’t call it for a month.

Also, the fact that Mr. Crocker has two challengers gives me pause. Supervisor Pete Vander Poel hasn’t had a challenger for several elections because presumably his constituents are happy with his job performance.

Lastly, Mr. Micari’s has more endorsements, including some defectors from Mr. Crocker’s 2016 camp such as from law enforcement, public safety and former supervisors. Even more surprising is Mr. Vander Poel’s endorsement of Mr. Micari. It is common practice for fellow supervisors to endorse each other, but Mr. Vander Poel let it be known publicly he did not support the candidacy of Mr. Crocker.

All these factors combined make Mr. Crocker vulnerable but not necessarily beatable.

So I took a look at some intangibles.

Mr. Crocker makes a point of repeating when addressing the public that he is a fifth generation Tulare County farmer, which no doubt tipped the scales in the 2016 election. But in 2015 he worked in the private sector with PG&E and lived in Fresno – that is until he pulled papers to run for supervisor.

Was that change of heart coincidence or opportunism?

Whichever it is, his career change brought into question his integrity, and the question of integrity has dogged Mr. Crocker throughout his political career.

It does not help that Mr. Crocker’s mom, Patricia Crocker, who has held elected office and knows better, voted twice for her son in 2016. No apology has been forthcoming.

Then there is the force of nature called Ms. Micari. She started 2019 not knowing much about running a campaign to managing the best campaign this elections cycle. She is a bad ass bitch and you can bet your sweet bippy Mr. Micari isn’t going to do anything stupid while on the dais if elected, because he has Ms. Micari to come home to.

And Mr. Crocker doesn’t.

Prediction: Ms. Stearns 20%, Mr. Crocker 40%, and Mr. Micari 40% with the edge going to Mr. Micari.

Congressional District 22

Congress member Devin Nunes is being challenged by Phil Arballo (D,) Dary Rezvani (D,) Bobby Bliatout (D,) Eric Garcia (NPP.) The top two proceed to the General Election.

During the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum on January 30 Mr. Rezvani was most impressive. It was standing-room only in COS’ Ponderosa Hall and Mr. Rezvani was articulate, funny, comfortable in front of a crowd, and super cute.

But this column is predictions, not endorsements. Given that, Mr. Arballo has raised the most money and was endorsed by Mr. Nunes’ 2018 challenger, Andrew Janz, he will most likely proceed to the general election coming in second to Mr. Nunes.

Mr. Janz, an unknown and political neophyte in 2018, came within five percentage points of Mr. Nunes. He is currently neck and neck with former Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer in his race for Fresno Mayor.

But Mr. Arballo is no Janz. He doesn’t return calls, hasn’t campaigned as hard, and isn’t what you would call an inspiring speaker.

Mr. Nunes garnered almost 58% of the vote in the 2018 June primary against his five challengers, who split the remainder. But unlike 2018, when many Democrats stayed home, this year they will be turning out in droves to vote for their Democratic presidential nominee. Add that to the fact that constituents are increasingly angry that Mr. Nunes won’t talk to them, and all of his lawsuits claiming $450 million in damages, and he may no longer win by double digits.

Prediction: Mr. Nunes will take 55% of the vote with the challengers splitting the remaining 45%. Mr. Arballo will come in second and proceed to the General Election.

Congressional District 21

Congress member TJ Cox is being challenged by former Congress member David Valadao. Both will proceed to the November General Election.

Both candidates have (had) held this seat and both have their own baggage so this will be a close race. Mr. Valadao’s jointly owned dairy has gone bankrupt and has defaulted on paying over a million dollars in debts. Mr. Cox has around $150,000 in unpaid taxes and has liens on his properties.

So pick your poison.

But Mr. Cox hasn’t done anything stupid to anger his constituents, like vote to eliminate the Affordable Health Care Act. Also, the district is 43% Democrat versus 26% Republican, so it was always kind of a mystery why Mr. Valadao kept winning.

Mr. Valadao is very well liked in Hanford and will win Kings County, but Kings County is only 23% of the 21st District. The rest is in Kern, Fresno and Tulare Counties.

The most interesting aspect about this election is what happened in 2018. Mr. Cox came in second in the June Primary with only 37.2% of the vote to Mr. Valadao’s 62.8%.

A shoe-in right?

Mr. Cox then turned that around and pulled off a surprise victory in November. Out of the 113,616 votes cast he won by a mere 862 votes. It took a month before the winner was officially declared by the state.

Prediction: I predict Mr. Cox will come out on top by five percentage points.

California Assembly District 26

Incumbent Devon Mathis is being challenged by Drew Phelps.

Tularean Drew Phelps has been full-speed-ahead in his campaign while Mr. Mathis has been fairly quiet over the last year. Even so, the results of the primary might not have a huge impact on the outcome of the General Election. Both candidates will be proceeding to the General Election.

32 thoughts on “Political Fix (20 February, 2020)

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  1. This “self-appointed political vigilante” is a local bail bondsman named Scott James who’s business has gone belly up and now he thinks he’s Magnum PI. The skeletons in his closet make Maaske look like a choir boy. Shame on Maaske and his surrogates for playing dirty.

  2. I think you called it just right on the Micari-Crocker race. The only thing I’d add is that Crocker didn’t make any friends in the Visalia part of his district when he shoved that county rehab facility into a neighborhood. That arrogance is going to come back to haunt him, at least in the Visalia part of his district.

  3. I think referring to Ms Micari as a “bad ass bitch” is rude and hurtful.
    I would refer to her as a HARD WORKING SUPPORTIE WIFE !

  4. Sweet bippy? Way to reach out to the younger demographic! Rowan and Martin are smiling down on you from heaven. And you can look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls!

  5. Cmdr Queeg-To be fair to Crocker the wellness clinic was approved before he was elected. He did quite a bit of outreach to the neighborhood to try to quell fears.

    • That’s true but he did nothing to try to stop it. Just went along with the program rather than fight for his people.

  6. It is unfair to refer to Gubler in a manner that would imply he is a sore looser. He moved to New Zeland as a unpaid missionary for his church. He serves as a adviser on legal matters over there, you may recall his is an attorney.

    This is an opinion piece, and you are entitled to yours. I sense some dislike for the more consérvate candidates, and a inclination towards those candidates with whom you feel more politically aligned. You may be correct, I guess we will see when the dust settles after the election.

    • First, credit to you for appreciating the difference between an opinion piece and an article. You’d be floored by the sheer numbers who can’t. That said, the author was not trying to be unfair. She was trying to be funny and, as you must know as you can differentiate between opinion and news, humor is subjective. As are elections. What are not are numbers, and she was just trying to keep the reader from falling asleep with so many stats and so much analysis. On a personal note, I interviewed Mr. Gubler years ago and found him warm and bright. Delightful–and the author knew this.

  7. Look, I don’t claim to be able to predict elections, so I’m not going to argue your numbers, but I will say that your dismissiveness of Robyn Stearns as a viable candidate at this point leaves out some important facts about her.

    First, she is the only candidate who has any experience whatsoever in running a local government, with the exception of the time that Crocker has served so far as supervisor. She was on Exeter City Council for eight years and served as Mayor for four!

    Second, you seem to be placing all your eggs in the fundraising basket. But we know that raising the most money is not necessarily the determining factor in these types of elections. This fact was in focus during the Mathis/Mendoza election. And Mendoza had many more endorsements than Mathis, but Mathis won.

    Third, and maybe my biggest contention with your piece here, is the claim that Stearns has done a lot less campaigning. How do you know that? What do you base that idea on? I think it’s a false narrative. I know that Stearns personally knocks on at least 300 doors per week, every week. She attends just about every event in the 1st District, and I can’t say I’m seeing the other two at all these events.

    I find it amusing that you bring up the fact that Stearns hired a campaign manager and then use Dennis Smith as an example of someone who didn’t. While I love Dennis and he’s a friend, he didn’t win. So that strategy didn’t pay off for him.

    Finally, a cursory glance at this newspaper’s website reveals two people heavily advertising—Shuklian, and even more so, Micari. Should I be surprised that these are two you’re championing in this piece? You posted as much dirt as you could find on each of their opponents, but not one thing negative about them. It’s glaring.

    • I agree with Valarie. What a racket ! Reminds me of a good old Mob Story. Catherine Doe is only in it for the money. Its just like Fox News or should i say fake news. She takes it even further attacking people that are not even running for office just to raise her advertising base with the candidate that pays her the most.

      • You could not be more wrong. Catherine isn’t in this for anything other than being a local journalist. If you think there’s money in owning a newspaper you need treatment. She took advertising from Maaske and reported quite evenly on him.

    • Brad Maaske gave the Valley Voice the most advertising money by far this election cycle so there goes your argument of pay to play. Those web ads only cost $80 a month. Micari and Shuklian web ads don’t even pay for the gas to do distribution. Its hardly worth our time.

      Lastly I take great pains when I report on the candidate forums to give every voter the information they need to decide for whom to vote. The link is below. Most people have decided for whom to vote before reading my predictions.

      We will see Valerie how off my predictions are, and if so, then you may take over Political Fix for an issue or two to roundly criticize my column. You make intriguing arguments.

      In the mean time please read all I had to say about Robyn in my forum article and my August article on her launch party.


  8. No, thank you, Catherine. I’m pretty busy with my own publishing venture. I have a long history in the media, including owning a weekly newspaper for many years, plus two National trade magazines. For almost five years, I worked for a local magazine, prior to that I worked for a local weekly newspaper. My point being, I don’t think I’ll be taking over your column for any length of time, but thank you for your generosity. I don’t know if your predictions are off. What I do know, is that you did not present all the facts. And some information that you did offer was not true. You didn’t answer my questions about how you come to the conclusion that Stearns hasn’t campaigned as much as the others. Lastly, I think we both know that it’s not the dollars associated with the advertising that matters. It’s the perceived support of the publication that might be a bigger motivator. And I will admit that I do not read your newspaper, so I have no idea what is in the print issue as far as advertising. I was looking at this column online (only because a friend sent it to me angry with what you had written), and the ads that are on the pages of this website. I don’t think it matters a whole lot what you wrote after Robyn’s launch party. all these months later and very close to the primaries, you were not at all fair to her in this column. The bias in this column is glaring. I can’t imagine anyone reading it and not coming to the same conclusion.

  9. You are from out of town so sorry for not answering your question concerning Robyn’s campaigning versus the other two candidates. The column was written for locals who are already aware of all this.

    She has very few large campaign signs and very few yard signs. I only know of one campaign event (maybe she had more but she didn’t let the media know) versus Micari who holds nearly two a month. The VTD, Sun Gazette, nor our paper has received any letters to the editor (maybe one) nor have we received any press releases from her campaign. I am not even aware of who endorses her. I just don’t understand for what she paid Phil Cox.

    DMI Agency running Ms. Shuklian’s campaign, on the other hand, probably cost less than Phil and sent out press releases, gets letters to the editors out, organized many campaign events, put up campaign signs in high traffic areas, and put professionally designed campaign ads in the papers, and much more.

    Robyn has great ideas and might be the best choice. But my column was a prediction on who would proceed to the November election, not who was the best candidate. We do not endorse candidates.

    Lastly, our entire existence depends on print ads. I am eternally grateful that Brad Maaske supports local journalism, and paid for large ads in the Valley Voice, but it did not bias my reporting as you can see.

  10. I’m from out of town? Did you think that was some clever thing to say? I am from Exeter. It’s actually not considered out of town. All of my body of work is in Tulare County and surrounding counties.

    You’re obviously not reading your competitors. Her campaign has let the media know of her events. Perhaps just not the VV? And if you’re not aware of who endorses her, you didn’t do your research, did ya? Her direct mailings have listed them. I do know a press release just went out about her endorsement by the California. ProLife Council, the state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee. But perhaps you didn’t get it because you’re not a daily or weekly, so you’re next issue ts too far off.

    Yes, it is my understanding that DMI is also running Micari’s campaign. I’ve heard it from several people. Not sure it’s true, but it’s out there.

    Sorry, Catherine, but your piece didn’t read as simply a prediction. It read very much like you believe in that makari what’s the best choice. Or maybe his wife. And if support of the paper it’s not what motivates you, then it might just be personal. You won’t convince me that this writing is not biased.

    • She didn’t endorse anyone, no matter how it read to you. I live here in Tulare County and I have perhaps seen only two campaign signs for her. You claim bias in an opinion piece–you don’t think bias and opinion align? The irony is that Catherine is not biased toward any candidate but calling it as her experience lead her to see it.

      • I understand your defense of her. It’s your job to do so. If you’ve only seen two of Stearns signs, you don’t get out much. I live in Exeter and because of my work travel all over the county throughout my work weeks. I see her signs in the 1st District and beyond. Could be that Micari has more signs than her. With the support of the sheriff’s department, he’s probably bought more signs. So what’s your point? That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t done more campaigning. Which was my beef. I don’t expect you to agree with me. You’re going to defend your columnist. And I have no problem with an opinion piece when it’s purported as an opinion piece. This is definitely opinion. But Catherine has responded to me quite distinctly that she believes it to be the facts that everyone needs to know about the election. That and an opinion piece are two different things.

    • I have to beg to differ with you that you do not have time to write a column. You have more than written a column right here. I thought you were from out of town because someone sent you the column when you could have just as easily picked it up, especially since you have publications yourself.
      And no, the Micari campaign is not being managed by DMI Agency. Looks like someone other than myself has not done her research.

      The Visalia Times Delta, Sun Gazette, Fresno Bee and the Valley Voice work together cooperatively, read each others work, share our contacts, share information to advance each others articles, and in fact an editor from the VTD commented right here on this column.

      I don’t know how you could have a long history of publication in Tulare County and not understand the relationship we have with each other or why you are not part of it. That was another reason why I thought you were from out of town.

      I have not seen one press release of Robyn’s in any of these papers. But I could have missed it if you would like to forward it to me I would appreciate it.

      Seeing as you have lots of free time please write a piece in favor of Robyn and we will post it up immediately.

  11. Valeri – I asked Robyn, who was unknown to me prior to her announcement, two questions on her campaign page, which she didn’t answer directly.

    The first was, what did she actually accomplish as an elected official before? As a hiring manager, I expect any job candidate to be able to describe their accomplishments and how that benefited the previous employer or customers or someone, anyone.

    She demurred, to put it mildly. Maybe you are better with words and can answer for her? You seem very familiar with her record! That did she accomplish and to who’s benefit?

    Second, regarding her pro-life position, which you mentioned. I asked her about that, why she advocates taking existing rights rights away from people, and if that’s something an elected official should do. Again, no answer.

    More particularly, I asked her why she advocates taking away the rights of Jewish women to be guided by their own faith when making a difficult decision, and instead make them act, under power of law, as a hypothetical devout Christian woman would in such a situation. There was no light of recognition that led to an answer.

    But you are a woman bragging about your entire career using words to sell, to inform and to persuade.

    What’s the word for forcing Jews to act as though they are Christians under the law? I know you know it! So why not say it if that’s the position you endorse in candidates?

    Why is that a good position for your candidate to hold in today’s day and age? Why does it appeal to you for that matter?

  12. I’m surprised, being the journalist that you claim to be, that Stearns was unknown to you prior to this election. Most anybody who’s covered any local news new of her as the Mayor of Exeter. But I think that most of your wording is very strategic in an effort to undermine Stearns campaign. Another reason why you’ll never convince me you’re not biased.

    I do know a lot about Robyn Stearns. As a longtime resident of Exeter, I’ve been blessed to work with her on projects, to help her market her businesses through the publications that I worked for, + 2 mingle with her at many local events. You see, she did not start attending events in Exeter and Visalia and other surrounding communities when she decided to run for office. She has always been very actively involved in the community, even long before she became a city council member. She has been a member and served as a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and much more. I know one of her many accomplishments was being instrumental in getting the Belmont Street ditch filled and the beautiful walking lane that is now there approved. The improvement is amazing and we’re all enjoying it here in Exeter. She was very much a hands-on mayor, spending a lot of time with the local business owners, working closely with the department heads, and being very accessible to the citizens of our town. She really is a beloved former mayor here, with an impeccable reputation and is known for her hard work both in the public sector and in private business. And no one would question her motives, as far as who would benefit. It’s not like mayor of Exeter is a high-paying job. I’m not positive about this, but I believe that basically there was no compensation other than maybe a small stipend.

    I am now wondering why you didn’t ask Micari and Crocker about their pro-life stance. Maybe because they’re men? I’m almost positive both of them are pro-life. So maybe you should ask this question of everyone instead of just Stearns. I can’t answer for her in regards to her pro-life position, but she would be in no position as a County Supervisor to take away anybody’s rights in regard to abortion. At least I believe that’s true. again, this seems to be something you bring up just to be argumentative and biased against her. It really doesn’t apply to the job at hand.

    The more you respond to me, the more I realize that Stearns probably thought you were a heckler. You sound like a heckler. You’re talking about things that absolutely have nothing to do with this election. If you think Stearns has the power, or would have the power as a County Supervisor, to take away any Jewish women’s rights, you’re sadly mistaken. I know for a fact that Stearns does not believe in forcing anyone in any religion to conform to any other religion. It’s a very strange question. Again, son of a red herring perhaps.

    Your colors are really showing now. This particular line of questioning is so far out in left field, and yet the only one your questioning this way is Stearns. Sorry, Catherine, I wouldn’t call what you’re doing right now journalism at all.

    • Forgive the typos. Or is it voice-os? I am voice typing and it doesn’t quite read my laryngitis well.

    • The “Questions for Robyn and Valeri” was not from Catherine. That came by way of a man from Porterville.

      • It’s interesting the way this is set up. I can’t see who sent that message. And it’s a man from Porterville? He’s not even in the district Robyn would be serving. It’s very curious as to why he would be responding, why he’s concealing is name, and why he would have questioned her at any point regarding these issues. And now I’m remembering that there was somebody heckling her and she chose to ignore. I think she was wise. Had I known it was him I wouldn’t have responded either. Thank you for letting me know that it wasn’t Katherine and I apologize for that. However, I just don’t see how I can identify who wrote that.

        • Maybe call him out? It’s vexing to me as well that people can assume an alias and just fire away. And while I can’t always ID them, it would not be cricket of me to out them when I can.

  13. I think I sort of just did. Thanks for the info. And, yes, I wouldn’t expect you to do it. I confirmed with Stearns that it is the exact same rhetoric that a man from Porterville was writing on her Facebook page. He seems to be stalking her a bit. I think his name is Barry.

  14. April Skye aka Bryant aka Parsons is listed on comments as (LA CHILD
    She is friends and supporter of candidate Shuklian. Also The Valley Voice LLC is suspended from doing business in California. Verify at Ca Sec State under business search. They take money for advertisement. This makes the owners personally liable and the corporation will not protect them. This is not a legal operating company. Criminals for sure !!! #AttorneyGeneral

  15. I would like to thank the vigilant community member who investigated into the Valley Voice and let us know that we needed to update our LLC with the Secretary of State. All information is now updated and the Valley Voice’s LLC is current. It takes three days for the SOS to update their site. Thanks Again to our faithful reader!!

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