With the decision over the weekend by Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills not to move to her Oxnard beach condo and run for re-election in the new 19th Senate District, the race between Democrats Hannah-Beth Jackson and Jason Hodge is officially on.
The new district takes in all of western Ventura County and southern Santa Barbara County.
That the race is on became evident yesterday, when Jackson campaign stratgegist Steve Barkan distributed to the media the results of a telephone poll conducted over the last four days of August. It shows Jackson, the former assemblywoman from Santa Barbara, with a 25-point lead over Hodge, the county fireman and Oxnard Harbor District commissioner. The lead is the same among near-certain voters (those who have voted in recent primaries) and a broader pool of likely voters.
"The main conclusion from the poll findings: that Hannah-Beth Jackson is clearly
the strongest Democratic candidate in this race," writes pollster Paul Goodwin in a memo to the Jackson campaign.
There's nothing surprising about the results. Jackson, after all, was elected three times to the Assembly in an area that encompasses much of the same turf as the new district, and four years ago spent $5 million in a mega-campaign for state Senate, which she narrowly lost to Republican Tony Strickland..Since early polls essentially measure voters' familiarity with the names of candidates, Jackson should at this point have a significant lead over Hodge, who has run only once, for a low-profile office, in only a small portion of the district.
Hodge offered this response in an email to reporters: "While I am a relative newcomer to elective office, I am pleased that I am off to a good start with 13 percent after just two weeks of active campaigning."
Hodge, of course, also offers up his own misleading spin. Just as it's disingenuous of the Jackson camp to suggest a poll that affirms her superior name ID makes her the "clearly the strongest" Democrat, Hodge's spin that the results show her to be weak because they have her trailing Republican Mike Stoker deserves a reality check. After all, the poll shows him trailing Stoker by 19 percent.
The significant number is the support of the two Democrats combined, since the district has an 18-point Democratic voter-registration advantage. The poll shows that the two Democrats combined have the support of 51 percent of voters, while Stoker has the support of 32 percent.