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County GOP: An endorsement and a non-endorsement

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First, a few words of explanation. With unfortunate timing for this blog about politics, I have been locked out of direct access to "95 percent accurate*" for the past few weeks as a transition to new publishing software moves forward with glacial speed. In the meantime, digital wizard Matthew Saint has graciously served as an intermediary to publish a few posts that I forwarded to him. "Matthew Saint" is not my new alias. As of today, my access has been restored...

A KNOCKOUT AND A NO DECISION: The Ventura County Republican Central Committee has endorsed Assemblyman Jeff Gorell in the 26th Congressional District primary, giving him a boost over fellow Republican contender Rafael Dagnesses.

In a news release announcing the endorsement, County Republican Chairman Mike Osborn indicated the decision was an easy one. "Jeff has worked successfully to unite Republican volunteers - earning endorsements from the California Republican Assembly, the Young Republican Federal of California and the Republican Party of Los Angeles County," Osborn says in the release. "His candidacy provides Republicans with our best opportunity to win back the congressional district long held by our respected former Representative Elton Gallegly."

No release was issued, however, regarding a contentious split vote that resulted in no endorsement being awarded in the 44th Assembly District, where another primary contest is unfolding between two Republicans, businessman Mario de la Piedra and Pastor Rob McCoy. The vote on that endorsement was split - and, I'm told, somewhat contentious.

It signifies a rift between establishment Republicans backing de la Piedra and conservative activists supporting McCoy. The Newbury Park pastor has told others that unnamed party leaders pressured him to get out of the race, and in an email to me last week McCoy said his supporters had been successful in blocking what he perceived to be an organized attempt to swing the endorsement to de la Piedra.

AND THEY'LL SOON MEET FACE TO FACE - Speaking of de la Piedra and McCoy, they will meet face-to-face alongside Democrat Jacqui Irwin at a 44th Assembly District candidates' forum sponsored by the Ventura County League of Women Voters on Friday, April 25, in Camarillo.

The forum, to be moderated by League member David Maron, will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Camarillo City Hall, 601 Carmen Drive.

AN IRWIN LAW ENFORCEMENT SWEEP - A "police sweep" is not generally a good thing for a campaign to be associated with, but Irwin's camp has proudly announced what it calls a "sweep" of law enforcement endorsements from 19 separate entities and individuals.

Notably, the list includes Sheriff Geoff Dean and former District Attorney Michael Bradbury, both Republicans.

Others on the list include the Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs Association, the Oxnard Firefighters Association, the Oxnard Firefighters Association and the Ventura County Professional Peace Officers Association.

In a statement announcer her "sweep," Irwin cited her role on the City Council in a city recognized for its safe streets. "I'm proud that under my watch the FBI has recognized Thousand Oaks as the safest city in California," she said.

BACK FROM DOWN UNDER - Former Ventura County Democratic congressional candidate Tim Allison - the last person to run against Rep. Elton Gallegly before he retired - has returned to the county from a work assignment in Australia - and today took over as the new executive secretary-treasurer of the Tri-Counties Central Labor Council.

He succeeds the indefatigable and long-time head of the union umbrella organization, Marilyn Valenzuela.

IT'S NOW 'CHAIRMAN NAVA' - Former Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava of Santa Barbara, who for six years represented much of western Ventura County in the Legislature, has been elected chairman of the Little Hoover Commission, the watchdog agency that oversees state government operations and investigates various public policy issues.

Nava, who was appointed to the commission last year by Assembly Speaker John Pérez, was unanimously elected chairman at the panel's meeting last week. He is currently heading up a commission study of California's underground economy.

STILL PITCHING FOR STRICKLAND - As Monday's close of the first-quarter reporting campaign finance reporting period for federal candidates approached, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon fired off a last-minute fundraising email on behalf of former Sen. Tony Strickland, the person he has endorsed to succeed him in the 25th Congressional District.

In the email, McKeon - who is taking an unusually active campaign role for a retiring member of Congress - refers to Strickland as "a gutsy conservative."

We'll find out how all the local congressional candidates performed on the fundraising front during the first quarter of the years when their reports are released on April 15.

And the games begin...

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Returning from a too-brief vacation, rediscovering spring allergies and campaign developments...

GOING ON OFFENSE ON HEALTH CARE - Although GOP leaders are attempting to put together some alternative health-care reform ideas their candidate can talk about this fall, a panel of Republican pollsters told TIME (hyperlink: http://time.com/27837/gop-pollsters-bashing-obamacare-still-best-tactic-in-2014/ ) this week that the best GOP strategy for the midterm elections remains bashing Obamacare.

It's fairly clear that Democrats agree --- which is why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week launched an online ad featuring a board game that shows the healthcare pitfalls Americans can encounter if they went through life under a health care system shaped by ideas Republicans in Congress have either rejected or proposed. The ad (hyperlink: http://dccc.org/page/-/sicknbroke/index.html ) will show up on web pages visited by some folks in Ventura County, as Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, the leading GOP candidate in the 26th Congressional District is among those targeted. The initial message will say: "Assemblyman Jeff Gorell is playing games with your health. How will you do?"

95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at therdt@vcstar.com
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