Democrat Julia Brownley launched her first television ad of the fall campaign on Wednesday. It is part of a $56,000 buy with Time-Warner cable franchises in Ventura County, with an ad schedule to run through Sept. 10 -- clearly just the first phase of her TV advertising.
The initial spot plays on what polls show is a Democratic strength in this election cycle, focusing on women's issue. It introduces Brownley as "an advocate for women," stresses her support from Planned Parenthood, and promises that she will "fight to make insurance companies cover women's health care," including contraception and mammograms.
And, just as Republican Tony Strickland did in his initial commercial, the ad squeezes in a quick reference to Medicare. It describes Brownley as "the only candidate you can count on to protect Medicare from the extremists in Congress."
Finally, it seeks to counter Strickland's narrative that she is an out-of-towner ("L.A. liberal") by stressing her support from Ventura County groups, notably associations representing firefighters and teachers.
STRICKLAND DUCKS A TOUGH VOTE -- Now that the Obama administration's Department of Homeland Security has issued a directive saying that undocumented individuals who were brought to this country as children and have met other specifications are not subject to deportation -- and, thus, are in the United States legally -- a bill has been proposed to authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to people who meet those criteria.
It is a familiar issue in the Legislature, where attempts to authorize driver's licenses for illegal immigrants has been a hot-button issue for a decade. The difference is that, in this instance, the people who would benefit are, by definition, legally residing in the United States and in California.
The bill to authorize those driver's licenses came up Wednesday in the Senate, where it passed 25-7 and received support from three Republican senators. During the debate on the measure, Strickland was not on the Senate floor and was not around to cast a vote when the roll was called. He returned to the floor one minute after the roll call vote was closed.
Had he been on the floor, I asked Strickland, would he have cast a vote?
No, he said, he would have abstained even had he been at his desk. He said he listened to the debate from outside the chambers. Strickland said he appreciates the arguments on both sides, and noted, "I've been on both sides of this issue."
The reference was to his vote, during his early years in the Assembly, in support of Assemblyman Gil Cedillo's bill to authorize driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. He voted no on subsequent versions of the bill, but his initial vote has caused him some political grief over the years as conservatives have sought to use it against not only him, but also his wife, Audra, during her tough primary campaign in 2004 to succeed him in the Assembly.
Now that Strickland's in a tough campaign for Congress, no one can accuse him this fall of either supporting the bill or opposing it.
ANALYZING THE PRIMARY VOTE -- As I've written here before, far too much can made of trying to make extrapolations from the results of the June 5 primary, as there will be likely be about two new voters in November for every one that cast a ballot in the primary.
Still, I found some interest in the statement of vote (Page 210) now available on the county registrar's website, which provides a precinct-by-precinct -- and, more interestingly, a city-by-city -- breakdown of the vote. It shows that Strickland, although the only Republican on the ballot, won a majority of the total vote in only two county cities, Camarillo and Moorpark. In all the rest, the combined vote totals of the four Democrats and independent Linda Parks exceeded his.
In only one city, Ojai, did Brownley alone surpass Strickland's total. In Oxnard, the combined votes of the four Democrats and Parks more than doubled Strickland's total.
The most interesting breakdown was in Thousand Oaks, Parks' home base. Parks came in second there, with 7,088 votes to Strickland's 12,163, with Brownley receiving 5,686 and the other three Democrats combined about 1,200.
The question for November, of course, is how many of those 7.088 voters who supported Parks will now side with Strickland, and how many will switch to Brownley.
Strickland started appealing to those Parks' voters early by publicly denouncing the Democratic National Campaign Committee's attacks on Parks. But, as Brownley's campaign will surely point out, just two years ago it had been Audra Strickland and the county Republican Party that had been attacking Parks just as vociferously. In a close contest -- and this one assuredly will be -- how those 7,088 Thousand Oaks voters who backed Parks cast their ballots in November will play a significant role in the outcome.