Campaign notes four days from Election Day
THE INCUMBENT VS. THE UNKNOWN -- All the action this spring has been focused on the 26th Congressional District battleground, but there's another district where the voter-registration numbers are just as tight, and one that could spark another free-wheeling, free-spending campaign in the fall: the east county's 27th Senate District.
Whether it in fact comes into play in November could depend in part on Tuesday's primary election results. Incumbent Democrat Fran Pavley is fairly well known in the district and has buillt up her campaign treasury to more than three-quarters of a million dollars. Meanwhile, Republican Todd Zink, an L.A. County prosecutor, has never before run political office, got into the race late (on the last possible day) and has less than $30,000 in the bank.
State GOP leaders and the big-bucks financiers of independent expenditure campaigns will surely be watching to see how well Pavley fares on Tuesday -- especially in the Republican heart of the district, which is eastern Ventura County, Will the better-known Pavley outperform Democratic voter registration there, or will GOP voters in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Moorpark stick with the party line on a ballot that presents them a choice between Pavley and Zink?
This week, both candidates -- or, in Zink's case, a surrogate -- made an effort to at least introduce themselves. An independent group, funded largely by Chevron, the insurance industry and real estate interests, spent about $26,000 on a pro-Zink, anti-Pavley mailer.
Meanwhile, Pavley sent a positive piece that stresses her Ventura County roots (she spent more than two decades as a schoolteacher in Moorpark) and touting a long list of endorsements. Notably, while many Democrats have spent a lot of effort in recent weeks trying to discredit Supervisor Linda Parks, an independent candidate in the congressional race, Pavley proudly puts Parks at the very top of her list of endorsers.
SIMI VALLEY DISRESPECTED? -- The new political maps have devalued the political strength of Simi Valley, and its voters now make up on only about a third of new congressional and Assembly districts. In both cases, it is grouped with Santa Clarita and other portions of L.A. County. Predictably, most of the leading candidates in those races this year hail from Santa Clarita, including Rep. Buck McKeon running for re-election to Congress and his wife, Patricia, running for the Assembly.
Simi Valley GOP candidate Cathie Wright points to a news segment on the 25th Congressional District race aired by KCAL this week in which, she says, all of the candidates except her were interviewed.
"We are being pushed aside like an old suit that one has outgrown," she wrote in an email. "They acted like the Simi Valley part of the district was not important and did not matter... Is this a taste of how Simi Valley will be represented in Washington, D C.?"
THUMBS DOWN FROM GROVER -- The man behind the anti-tax pledge that most Republican officeholders and candidates have signed, Grover Norquist, made his position on the 24th Congressional District unambiguous in a scathing essay published on the conservative California blog Fashreport.org this week.
The piece was a full-throated attack on GOP candidate Abel Maldonado.
"He is an enemy of the taxpayer," Norquist wrote.
Norquist, of course, knows that the only way he can continue to keep Republican lawmakers bowing at his feet is if he strictly enforces his pledge. If Maldonado, who broke it when he voted for temporary tax increases as a state senator in 2009, prevails over conservative Chris Mitchum on Tuesday, it will not be a good thing for Norquist.