There is a certain numbing quality in the parade of endorsement announcements that come from candidates this time of year. To use a journalism cliche, nearly all of them fall into the "dog bites man" category -- meaning that they don't qualify as news because, well, they are predictable and not at all unusual. The local Planned Parenthood affiliate endorses a Democrat; the local Chamber of Commerce endorses a Republican; elected officials endorse a candidate from their own party, etc.
But, however rarely they occur, there are times when endorsement announcements fall into the "man bites dog" category -- making them unusual and noteworthy.
Such was the case last week when the Ventura-based Local 952 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers endorsed Republican Mike Stoker in the 19th Senate District contest. It was quite a departure from the position of everyone else in the labor community; Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson has the backing of virtually every other labor group, including the California Labor Federation, the Tri-Counties Central Labor Council, the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, the plumbers, the laborers, the carpenters, the Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs Association, the California Teachers Association, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen and on and on.
Tony Skinner, president of the union local, has shown a willingness to buck the traditional Democratic leanings of organized labor. He was, for instance, instrumental in helping to secure the California Labor Federation endorsement for Camarillo Assemblyman Jeff Gorell in both this year's campaign and in 2010. In each case, Gorell was the only GOP Assembly candidate to win group's backing.
In a press release announcing the endorsement, Stoker quotes Skinner saying that working families can "count on Mike Stoker to help create jobs in California." Stoker also provides a clue as to a personal circumstance that may have helped give him a foot in the IBEW's door: he notes than his father was an electrician.
Jackson, it should be noted, has secured a couple "man bites dog" endorsements of her own. She has the backing of two Republican local elected officials from Ventura County, for instance -- Ventura Mayor Mike Tracy, the former city police chief, and Ventura Unified School District board member Velma Lomax.
Tracy told me today that,while "it's a little unusual for a police chief to endorse a liberal politician," he has known Jackson since his days as chief of the Ventura PD and has always found her to be responsive and likeable.
On the other end of the county, Democratic Assembly candidate Edward Headington has also announced an endorsement worth noting -- that of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the organization representing LAPD officers. That, it would seem, will be a potentially valuable endorsement in the Simi Valley portion of the 38th Assembly District, which is home to scores of active and retired LAPD officers. In fact, Headington says the 38th District is home to more law enforcement families (city police officers, sheriff's deputies and highway patrol officers) than any Assembly district in the state.
There is a back story to this endorsement. Before deciding to run for office last year, Headington attended the LAPD Community Police Academy and was on track to become a member of the LA Police Reserves -- a goal, he says, he has put on hold but still hopes to pursue.
Headington also has other bipartisan assets on his candidate resume. He has been endorsed former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican, and boasts that he has for years been a member of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
BIG BUSINESS FRONT GROUP STEPS UP AGAIN -- The deceptively named "California Senior Advocates League" has stepped up in a big way to take on Democratic incumbent Fran Pavley in the east county's 27th Senate District. It reported a $561,585 television advertising buy last week.
I've written critically about this group before, because I am not a fan of its cynical lack of transparency and its choice of an intentionally misleading name for its donors to hide behind.
Chances are, however, that its role will grow ever larger during the course of this campaign -- in part because donors are largely forsaking the state Republican Party in this election cycle. The state party's financial problems are such that the group's top officials voted at the party's most recent convention to adopt spending rules that circumvent Chairman Tom Del Beccaro. Even that change, however, will likely not change the dynamic of traditional GOP donors this fall routing their contributions through county central committees in which they have more trust and through indepedent expenditure groups such as the "Senior Advocates League."
The 27th District, because of the relatively tight partisan registration breakdown of its voters and its importance in the Democrats' strategy of taking a two-thirds majority in the Senate, was always going to generate a big-money campaign between Pavley and Republican challenger Todd Zink. What's not clear yet is whether this outsized involvement of an independent expenditure group is an add-on, or whether it's a substitute for what in past campaigns would have been money that came from the state Republican Party.
TRAVEL FOR OBAMA, DON'T WORRY ABOUT YOUR BACK -- Ojai chiropractor Kristofer Young if offering free professional treatment next year to the first four folks from Ventura County who join President Obama's Vote Corps and go to another state this fall to help campaign for his re-election.
In a message posted yesterday on the Democratic Campaign Council of Ventura County's message board, Young wrote: "If you live in Ventura County, join Vote Corps, and go to another state to work to make sure that Obama is re-elected, I will provide you with monthly chiropractic treatment through all of 2013! (offer good for first 4 individuals who contact me and meet requirements)."
As of this morning, Young told me in a Facebook message, he had not received any takers. He promises to let me know of any updates.