Post-election notes before heading to the golf course after logging 44 hours of work in 60-hour period from Tuesday morning to Thursday night (please excuse any typos)...
WILK CONFOUNDS THE POLLSTERS -- From the outset in Simi Valley's 38th Assembly District primary, it seemed that Scott Wilk fit the profile of a likely winner. He'd been around Republican politics most of his adult life, been elected to the local community college district board, had the support of outgoing Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, was a son of the Antelope Valley, had solid conservative credentials, even had the endorsement of his ex-boss, conservative icon Tom McClintock.
But the polling, folks kept telling me, showed otherwide. The reason, apparently, was that he was running against two bigger political names in area Republican politics -- McKeon and Strickland. Nevermind that his opponents weren't actually the individuals who established those name brands. One, Patricia McKeon, was the wife of Rep. Buck McKeon. The other, Paul Strickland, just happened to share the same name, but no family relationship, with Sen. Tony Strickland.
At one point, I was told by those who claimed to have seen both Republican and Democratic polling, Wilk was in third place among the three Republicans.
But he did all the right things. Went to all the forums, establishing himself as the most knowledgeable and qualified Republican candidate in the minds of opinion leaders around the district. He used some smart mail that compared himself with his two opponents, who he labeled as "Patricia (not Buck) McKeon" and "Paul (not Tony) Strickland." He came up with a clever idea to build his own name brand, adopting a slogan of "Got Wilk?"
And, in a move that was clever even for those who didn't get the jab at one of his opponents, he put that "Got Wilk" slogan on reusable grocery bags that he distributed at the Simi Valley street fair. The bags -- at 75 cents apiece, he told me -- were considerably more expensive than the giveaways of other candidates (pens, refrigerator magnets, etc.). But visitors needed a bag in which to put all the other goodies from the street fair, ensuring that the "Got Wilk" message would make it all the way home. And the jab? Patricia McKeon had said the reason she was running was that she had an epiphany in a grocery store when she was told she'd have to pay 10 cents for each paper bag. Had she had a reusable bag with her, of course, that would have been no issue.
You gotta hand it to a candidate with a subtle sense of humor.
AN UNCLAIMED NAME BADGE -- I spoke last night at the annual dinner meeting of the Ventura Council of Governments. The gathering included delegations from 9 of the county's 10 cities, mostly council members and top administrators, as well as countywide elected officials. (Nearly everywhere one turned, there was either a declared or possible candidate for Oxnard mayor.) When I checked in, I noticed there was a name badge on the reception table for Linda Parks. Somehow, I knew that one was going to go unclaimed.
Parks has been out of communication since falling short on Tuesday in her independent candidacy for Congress. It's perfectly understandable. It was a tough loss, and the first one of her political career. In addition, she probably has some sorting out to do before making any public comment about the race going forward -- for instance, whether she will back either Republican Tony Strickland or Democrat Julia Brownley. After two races in two years in which she was alternately attacked by Republicans and Democrats, it's difficult to imagine her being enthusiastic about either choice.
As she pointed out in an email to supporters last weekend, however, Parks does have an upbeat, exciting day to look forward to coming up next weekend: Her two sons, Roger and Dan, will graduate next Saturday on the same day from U.C. Davis and U.C. Riverside.