Catching up after two weeks of summer vacation, spent mostly on golf courses and riding the rapids on Idaho's Payette River -- and thinking hardly at all about politics and campaigns...
PAVLEY POLL: One of the most striking results of the June primary -- and one that revealed the extent of massive indifference by Democratic voters around the state -- was in the east county's 27th Senate District, where little-known first-time candidate Todd Zink, who spent almost no money, outpolled Democratic incumbent Sen. Fran Pavley.
What was up with that? The Republican spin, of course, was that the results revealed Pavley's weakness in a district that's much more competitive than any she's run in before. The Democratic spin was that it was simply an indication of two things: Republican turnout was vastly higher than Democratic turnout, and that the hard-core partisan voters who participated in the primary strictly followed party lines.
Pavley strategist Parke Skelton sends along a polling memo that suggests the November election will be a far different story. The poll, conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, surveyed 404 likely general election voters early this month. It showed Pavley with a 9-point lead, 42 percent to 33 percent, in the out-of-the-box first question on candidate preference. Significantly, the poll said that the voters surveyed who participated in the primary were evenly divided -- just as they were on Election Day. So all of Pavley's lead is attributable to voters who did not vote in June but, based on their past voting history, are considered likely to vote in the fall. One big number in that category: independents, very few of whom ever vote in primaries, favored Pavley by 24 percentage points.
Matt Rexroad, strategist for the campaign of Zink, an L.A.. County prosecutor and an officer in the Marine Corps Reserves, was unimpressed. He pointed to the election results -- which he called "better than a poll" -- and noted that Pavley was one of only two Democratic incumbents in June who did not finish first in the primary. The other was Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, who was dealing with the fallout from a drunk-driving arrest.
The polling memo says Pavley's lead expanded after respondents were read positive statements about each candidate taken from their websites, and expanded still more after respondents were read likely attacks against Pavley as a "tax-and-spend liberal" and an "environmental extremist." The poll's conclusion: "Pavley should win this seat in November."
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY: I'll write more on this later after I've had a chance to personally pore through their second quarter financial reports, but the campaigns of 26th District Democratic congressional candidate Julia Brownley and the Republican National Congressional Committee have issued their own spins on the report.
The RNCC points to the bottom line: GOP candidate Tony Strickland has more than
$1 million cash on hand entering the general election campaign, while Brownley, after having to spend heavily in the primary, has a little more than $300,000 in the bank.
Brownley's campaign focuses on the fact that Brownley outraised Strickland in the second quarter, $640,000 to $609,000 -- and that she raised considerably more from contributors in Ventura County. By the count of the Brownley campaign, she had 538 individuals from Ventura County who contributed to her campaign, compared to just 80 for Strickland.
NOT YOUR USUAL CAMPAIGN PRESS RELEASE: I've read my share of campaign press releases over the years, but can't remember ever reading anything quite like the one recounting Oxnard Councilwoman Carmen Ramirez' event at which she officially announced she is running for mayor.
The event took place in downtown Oxnard, the release says, "as a light tropical rain fell over the city, leaving behind a vista of coral-streaked clouds that lent itself to the generous ambiance of the evening."
Don't know how big of a voting bloc they are, but I'd say Ramirez probably starts the campaign with a lead among the city's poets.
STEM-WINDER IN STORE FOR COUNTY DEMOCRATS: It's the time of year when political parties do their best to fire up loyalists for the coming campaign season, and Ventura County Democrats have lined up a firebrand for their Kennedy Legacy Dinner on Aug. 17 at the Ventura Beach Marriot. She is Rep. Maxine Waters, the tough-talking congresswoman from Los Angeles.
STRICKLAND BACKS A DEMOCRAT?: I had to do a quick doubletake when I saw the email from Democrat Edward Headington, the Assembly candidate running in Simi Valley's 38th District, announcing he had been endorsed by "Strickland."
It's true -- he has received the backing of Hart School Board member Paul Strickland, who was an unsuccessful GOP candidate in the June primary. He has not, however, received the endorsement of Sen. Tony Strickland -- although Tony Strickland is not likely to play any role in the race because Republican winner Scott Wilk is still steaming over Tony Strickland's decision to endorse Patricia McKeon in the primary. Until then, Wilk -- the man who gave Tony Strickland his first job in the office of then-Assemblyman Tom McClintock -- had what he considered to be a close, personal relationship with the Moorpark senator.