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.
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.