Four days before a town hall-style candidates forum sponsored by the Ventura Chamber Commerce featuring the candidates in the hypercharged 19th Senate District campaign, the camp of Republican Tony Strickland issued a press release yesterday: It had received the endorsement of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce PAC.
That raised an obvious question: Why would the chamber make its endorsement before the forum?
I called PAC President Bob Alviani this morning and got a very good answer.
The board interviewed both candidates over the summer and made its endorsement "at least a month ago," Alviani said. At that time, he said, there was no definite plan to sponsor a forum. That idea gained steam only after public interest grew in this multimillion-dollar campaign that has become the top legislative race in California this fall.
It's just that the Strickland campaign chose to announce the endorsement yesterday.
The Chamber PAC endorsement wasn't unanimous, Alviani said, and he acknowledges that the full chamber was asked to consider making an endorsement but decided to take no position on the race.
Alviani insists that despite the endorsement, the forum will be even-handed. "We've turned everything as far as questions over to (Star Editor) Joe Howry," he said. "It's totally up to him. He's got complete control."
The event will begin at 7 Friday evening in the Ventura College cafeteria. Seating is first-come, first-seated.