Democrats in western Ventura County, clearly sensing that the year ahead could present a welcome opportunity, turned out in large number this evening for a Ventura Keys fund-raiser for former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, who is seeking the party's nomination in the 19th Senate District.
Jackson told me this week that her recent kickoff fund-raiser in Santa Barbara brought in about $120,000. The Ventura event won't match that, but more than 100 people brought their checkbooks this evening. Among them was former Supervisor Susan Lacey, who has stayed out of the political spotlight since stepping down from the Board of Supervisors seven years ago. Lacey was a co-host of the event, indicating a level of support that she says she has seldom shown in other campaigns.
One of the motivating factors for Lacey and other local Democrats is the opportunity to replace long-time nemesis Tom McClintock with one of their own. McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, who has represented portions of Ventura County in the Legislature for 22 years, will be forced by term limits to step down unless Proposition 93 passes on Feb. 5. His departure would lead to an all-out partisan battle to succeed him in what party leaders figure will be the most competitive district in California next fall.
Jackson is one of two announced Democratic candidates, the other being Simi Valley political consultant Jim Dantona. Whether both will ultimately file in March to become official candidates is unclear. Former Assemblyman Tony Strickland of Moorpark is the only announced Republican candidate.
Jackson said she hopes her year-end fund-raising tally will impress state party leaders and demonstrate a level of local support that will encourage them to spend generously in the district in the fall.
Supervisor Steve Bennett introduced Jackson at the event, and made reference to McClintock's history of consistently voting no in the Legislature and saying no to local officials whenever they sought assistance from Sacramento. Jackson said her objective will be "to bring us to yes."