Patricia McKeon, a Republican running in the 38th Assembly District, is not your typical first-time candidate for the Legislature. For starters, she's 69 years old. She has 31 grandchildren. She says she decided to run for office because she was grocery shopping at a store in unincorporated Los Angeles County and was told that under a new county ordinance it would cost her a dime for a paper bag. And she is the wife of a 10-term United States congressman, Rep. Buck McKeon.
On top of all that, she has a somewhat eccentric personality that sets her apart from the cookie-cutter candidates that seem to emerge every two years. We spoke briefly on the phone this week when she officially announced her candidacy and, charmingly, she twice noted during the conversation that she was looking at a photo of me so that she could have a better feeling of who she was speaking with. Never had a politician tell me that before.
One of her Republican opponents in the primary is Scott Wilk, 52, who comes to the race from a more traditional trail. He has worked as an aide to three area GOP lawmakers, including former Sen. Tom McClintock and Rep. McKeon. He now runs his own business and serves in local government, as a trustee of the Santa Clarita Community College District.
The district includes Santa Clarita, but also takes in all of Simi Valley, a city which will be instrumental in determining the winner, as it is home to nearly a third of district voters.
Wilk, as I noted in my previous post, on Tuesday invited McKeon to participate in 10 "Lincoln-Douglas style" debates between now and the June 5 primary. "I am looking forward to engaging the public in a serious political discourse on those issues they care most about," he wrote.
As I predicted yesterday, it didn't take McKeon long to decline. What I couldn't have predicted was the tone of her response letter, which showed up in my email inbox last night. To wit:
"Let's be honest, your request is really a Campaign 101 tactic for a candidate who needs to raise their profile. As you and I know, the election is nearly a year away and the only people paying attention to this race are you, me, our supporters, and those you carboned on your note to me.
"I think you are getting a little ahead of yourself. It's been just a couple of weeks since your last election and you're already focused on your next campaign. I know that some think that campaigns are about merely reaching for the next rung on the political ladder, but I don't share that view.
"In the meantime, we both have a lot of work and a lot of listening to do before we do anything else."
As I say, she's not your typical candidate. This is going to be a very interesting, and potentially very entertaining, race to watch.