Tag Archives: Ventura County

Big Republican Money Keeps Coming in for Tony Strickland

Tony Strickland’s big oil-fueled campaign for Congress is getting a turbo charge of cash from some of California’s most extreme conservative special interests and high octane Republican bosses. Strickland has long tried to fool the voters of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties by pretending to be a moderate, environmentally-friendly Republican. But his actual record says otherwise: he has voted in favor of drilling along the California coast, denied the reality of climate change, and founded the so-called “Taxpayers Caucus” which opposes budgets with any added revenue including from oil companies making record profits, choosing instead to cut vital programs such as education. He is currently heading up Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in California, and is a founding member of the California chapter the of the arch-conservative Club for Growth, an organization explicitly devoted to expelling economic moderates from the ranks of the Republican Party.

So it’s not at all surprising that Strickland’s campaign is receiving a tainted wave of contributions from the big corporate backers he truly serves, including the Koch Brothers, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Valero and many others. Not to mention Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Republican budget architect Paul Ryan whose ranks Strickland hopes to join, and who openly voted to end Medicare but protected tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks for big oil companies.

And now Strickland is at it again, the beneficiary of a swanky high-dollar fundraiser at the home of California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and other leading California Republican establishment figures.

All of that dirty and ideologically-driven money will no-doubt be used to falsely portray Strickland once again as a reasonable, “moderate” Republican he isn’t. This time, however, the voters in California’s 26th Congressional district won’t be fooled. The gloss is off of Strickland’s slickly polished image. Tony has four long years of hyperpartisan votes and fundraising on behalf of his big corporate donors and extremist Republican ideologues. With every dollar he raises from those same interests he confirms what Californians already know: Tony Strickland is bad for California and doesn’t deserve to make decisions for us in Congress.

Cross-posted from WrongforCA.com

Linda Parks: A New Breed of High Broderist Politician

It’s hard to say which has been more harmful to the body politic in this country: the extremist tilt of conservative Republicans, or the crowd of aloof both-sides-do-it anti-partisans who give them cover. Normally the latter are confined to the traditional media, who follow closely in the footsteps of their patron bipartisan saint David Broder. Conservative extremists in elected office and partisan think tanks move on apace with their agendas; Democrats and even some progressives bend over backwards to give them most of what they ask for, in spite of the awful nature of the policies being espoused; conservative extremists smell weakness and demand even more; negotiations break down; and the traditional press tut-tuts over the horrible “partisanship” of it all. The stories written by these press flacks heave exasperated sighs at both parties for the futility of the debates, while covering the actual details of the policy arguments, the popularity of the proposals involved, and the depth of the actual concessions from each side with all the rigor of a children’s pop-up storybook. Jackie Calmes’ now legendarily terrible piece in the New York Times about the deficit reduction debate last year has become something of an archetype for this sort of vapid reporting.

Unfortunately, the passage of the top-two primary in California has created a new hybrid breed of anti-partisan politician. This relatively new species seeks higher office by attempting to marginalize both parties with the sort of detail-free bipartisan platitudes which the establish press has made its hallmark.

Case in point: Linda Parks, candidate for California’s new 26th Congressional District. Parks is currently the 2nd District County Supervisor encompassing much of Thousand Oaks and the surrounding areas. In 1996 she switched her registration from Democrat to Republican in order to win elected office in the mostly Republican district. She has a decent environmental track record, and is a moderate Republican swing vote on the Board of Supervisors. The local Republicans have attempted several fierce primary challenges against her, all of which failed due to Democratic crossover support (the district’s registration makes it very difficult for an actual Democrat to win there.) However, there was little chance for her to advance higher than the Board of Supervisors due to a lack of support for her in either Party.

But now Ms. Parks has seized on the top-two primary system to run for Congress, courting the Decline-to-State vote while marginalizing both parties and maintaining a conveniently substance-free platform. Because Jerry Brown signed a law recently dictating that the ballot must reflect the Party in which one is registered, Linda Parks re-registered with no party preference a few weeks ago. The June ballot for this majority Democratic district will now have four Democrats (at least two of them conservative), a conservative Republican state senator named Tony Strickland, and the “non-partisan” former Republican Linda Parks. If the Democrats split their vote, it’s entirely possible if not probable that the November run-off in this Democratic district will lack a Democrat entirely, and be a face-off between Parks and Strickland. Fortunately, fantastic progressive Assemblymember Julia Brownley is running for the district, but it’s no guarantee she’ll make it past June without a lot of help.

Ms. Parks’ issues page is frustratingly but predictably vague, with neoliberal austerity-friendly platitudes like:

Congress needs to stop the brinkmanship politics and work together to balance our nation’s budget and restore our bond rating.  This will give businesses the certainty they need to invest in capital projects and expand their workforce. This in turn will create demand for goods and services which will buoy our economy.

So yesterday I issued a challenge on Facebook to Ms. Parks saying the following:

It would be nice if Linda Parks would inform voters what she thinks Democrats have been too “extreme” and “partisan” on. Women’s health? The environment? The lowest tax rates in modern American history? I’m really curious. No more platitudes, please. Specifics are needed.

A number of respected people in the county “liked” the post, and Ms. Parks responded:

I know that to some, party is very important. I’ve heard some representatives say Republicans and Democrats won’t even look at each other when passing in the halls of Congress. I think I embrace many of the principles that you do. For example, I am pro-choice and pro-environment, and have a record of balancing the County’s budget, which had a structural deficit, growing a 10% reserve fund that increased the county’s bond rating. This makes borrowing cheaper so that we can build bridges, among other things. I do have a focus on making government operate more efficiently while providing services, like public safety, public health, and protecting the welfare of seniors, the mentally ill, and veterans. I’ll bring this non-partisan way of looking at problems to Congress, focusing on the issues that are important to Americans – like improving the economy and helping grow jobs -and I won’t be alone because there are others who are committed to setting aside partisanship to get us working again.

When it was pointed out to her that this was yet another platitude, she again came back with a response that would have made David Broder proud:

I think steadfast refusal to compromise and work towards common ground is polarizing. Hyper-partisanship (putting party before country) is the problem. For example one may agree with my positions but oppose me based on my party or in this case my non-party.

Somewhat exasperated, my response:

Please give me an example of Democrats at a local, state or national level “refusing to compromise” in a way that would have improved the policy outcome. Again, specifics please. Until then, these are simply platitudes that reinforce the false idea that 1) both parties are equally to blame; and 2) the “compromise” position would result in the most popular outcome. Neither claim is true.

Pressed on the subject, she resorted to yet more fact-free platitudes:

David asks for specifics on how Democrats have been too extreme or partisan or have refused to compromise. The failure of the parties to compromise is well documented. For example, S&P lowered our nation’s bond rating stating how they are “Pessimistic about the capacity of Congress” because “in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he’s learned that it takes bipartisan support to succeed in national security and foreign affairs and finds the current hyper-partisanship leads to polarization and eventually paralysis, jeopardizing our nation’s defense. Ben Bernanke discusses in the NY Times “Politics Hurt Markets and Nation.” So much can happen, in terms of give and take and collaboration if the parties worked together. I’d like to see a bipartisan committee that can bring the sides together.

Trying not to lose patience with the myriad ways in which her response demonstrated studied ignorance of the details of the negotiations, I shot back with:

1) Whose fault was the failure to reach a budget deal? On what speicifc items should Dems have compromised even further? 2) Did the S&P downgrade really hurt the nation’s economy or lower Treasury yields? How much should we have cut from Social Security and Medicare to please S&P and the Republicans? 3) On what pieces of foreign policy have Dems been too partisan, or undercut Secretary Gates. Specifics please. Also, bipartisan compromise gave us the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999 and the AUMF for Iraq. Were those good ideas because they were passed with bipartisan votes? Specifics please.

She has ignored my queries. And why not? It advantages her nothing to actually face the issues honestly, any more than it does pundits like Broder or Thomas Friedman. Their arguments break down instantly when subjected to the remotest scrutiny.

Digby and I spent much of the late summer of 2011 pointing out time and again the number of ways in which the President and other national Democrats were going far, far out of their way to give Republicans 90% of what they wanted toward reaching a “Grand Bargain” on deficit reduction. I went to Washington, D.C. that summer and met many Democratic representatives who privately expressed to me their furious rage with hard-right tilt of the negotiations, driven in large part by the President and his advisers.

On the S&P downgrade, this blog was also at pains to point out that S&P was never an honest broker in making the downgrade in the first place. More importantly, I also noted that the downgrade had the opposite effect from what others predicted:

A downgrade in U.S. debt means functionally that U.S. treasury bills are, in S&P’s oh-so-wise opinion, less trustworthy and a greater credit risk to investors. This comes only a day after investors fled the DOW and S&P500 into the safe and waiting hands of…you guessed it: U.S. treasuries. The same treasuries that S&P suddenly finds a more dangerous buy. So what does that say about the stock market, and the S&P500? Perhaps S&P might wish to re-evaluate the credibility of its own market index.

And yet politicians like Linda Parks and their High Broderist friends in the traditional press will continue to make these sorts of vapid statements because they can, and because nobody “serious” pays attention to Paul Krugman or to dirty hippies who just happen to have a blog–no matter how knowledgeable we are, or how right we’re proven time and time again.

Perhaps the greatest irony is that while Linda Parks and the arch-conservative Strickland gang on the Republican side of the CA26 race despise one another, Parks’ fact-free platitudes help give extremist Republicans like him all the cover they need to do what they do. I don’t necessarily blame politicians like Linda Parks for having no awareness of macroeconomics, or for thinking that a nation like the United States has to balance its budget as neatly as a County Board of Supervisors does. That’s a piece of parochialism for which she may be forgiven, as opposed to members of the press who should know better.

But I do blame them for being so unaware of their surroundings that they help along the very extremism they pretend to oppose.

Cross-posted from the original at Digby’s Hullabaloo

It all started with an Occu-Pie. Photos.

Last Wednesday, I baked a pie for my local Democratic club meeting. I named this one the Occu-Pie Apple Pie, because all good pies should have names.

occupie? apple pie!

A new face showed up at the meeting to tell us about a MoveOn rally on Friday afternoon. She liked my pie, the rally sounded interesting, and I decided to go.

But first, a little about Ventura County. It has the beach city of Ventura; the working-class Latino city of Oxnard; and the purple-to-red East County, home of the Reagan Library, and that’s all you really need to know about East County politics, isn’t it? While others howled about Occupy Wall Street police brutality arrests, I tweeted: “Videotape of police brutality does not, in and of itself, swing America to your side. Love, Rodney King country.”  

So I showed up to the MoveOn rally Friday afternoon with a simple sign (“I am the 99% – are you?”), figuring that I’d be there for half an hour and then move on. About 50 to 75 people joined the rally, all with signs. IMAG0002

And people honked approval at us.

And they honked, and honked, and honked.

A few people shouted at us to “get a job!” and “move to China!” but I could barely hear them over the honking.

About half the people waving signs at this rally were people I’ve seen at prior political events. Others were simply ordinary people who had stories to tell, stories that a casual observer wouldn’t associate with an upper-middle-class safe city.

I decided to attend the #OccupyVentura rally the following day after a local Democratic women’s club brunch meeting. I drove a friend, Karoli of Crooks & Liars. Here’s her story of big signs.

IMAG0009Before I arrived, the group marched to the local Bank of America to withdraw funds, but the branch shut down early to avoid a scene. Overall, the mood was as mellow as you’d expect from a sleepy beach town. The OccupyVentura rally was cleared with police in advance, and a couple of police officers hung out in a distant corner of the park. I saw one man with an Obama-as-the-Joker T-shirt, but no obvious LaRouchies, anti-Semites, or Ron Paul fans as have been reported at other OWS rallies.

The quintessential occupier of Ventura: a man with one tooth, a brilliant idea for renewable energy that would save the world, and an overwhelming desire to tell me everything about it except for the idea itself. I wanted to hear more, I wanted to take him to the dentist and buy him new clothes, I wanted to run away – all at once.

The event took place in a park along Main Street. A streetside view – you can’t hear the horns honking in this photo, but they were near-constant: IMAG0007

Away from the street, a handful of tents and a stage were set up. A band played for an hour, then people spoke at an open mic (with a real microphone). The stories they told were deeply personal, sometimes angry, sometimes confessional. A couple of speakers emphasized the need for action with specific demands such as reinstating Glass-Steagall. However, the emphasis was on sharing stories: anger, pain, bewilderment. Organizers had set up a command central tent, a media tent, a sign-making area, and my personal favorite – the Occuplay!


The one thing missing from the rally was an effort to engage people in traditional political action – no voter registration, no petition to sign, no collection of email addresses. If the movement grows, the people telling their deeply personal stories need to take that next step.

IMAG0014 The following day, I was among the volunteers representing our local Democratic club at an annual street fair. A number of community groups set up booths among the sellers of kettle corn and Etsy-type crafts. We had steady traffic all morning – people who asked about the local clubs, people who wanted to register, people who wanted to buy buttons and bumper stickers, people who just wanted to flash a furtive thumbs up sign. Sometimes, in a purple-to-red county, we just need to let Democrats know that they’re not alone.

IMAG0011David Pollock, who’s running for Congress in the new CA-25 now held by useless backbencher Elton Gallegly, had a carnival barker’s cadence: “Register to vote! Are you registered to vote? You can’t vote unless you’re registered!”  Whether it was his voice or something else, we signed up 22 Democratic voters by 1 PM, including 2 Republicans switching parties.

This story began with an Occu-Pie, segued to a rally raising community visibility, then to a bigger rally raising consciousness, and then to direct action registering voters. It’ll end with another Occu-Pie. In this face-off between 1 Big Max and 99 sweet little pumpkins, who will win? The pie baker! IMAG0015

Observations from the Citizens Redistricting Commission Hearing in Oxnard

The latest scheduled stop of the vaunted Citizens Redistricting Commission for local hearings was in Oxnard tonight, where the pros and cons of the process were painfully evident.

1) On the positive side, it is quite clear that the Commission is doing its utmost to attempt, if imperfectly, to fulfill the mission it was given. Not everyone agrees with the first draft maps (and indeed, MALDEF will likely sue over what many Latino activists see as inadequate attention to their needs and interests.) All in all, though, the non-partisan process has so far led to greater respect for communities of interest than the careers of incumbent legislators on both sides of the aisle. This creates more risk, certainly, but the upside for those seeking more progressive legislation is that as more Millennials and Latinos move into the likely voter pool, the pressure on red-leaning will grow cycle by cycle, even as competitive Dem districts grow safer. In a Democratic wave election, there may be a real potential to reach and even exceed the 2/3 requirement in a way that would not be present if maintaining safe districts and respecting patronage networks were the primary considerations.

2) On the Republican side, most of the animus came from redder East Ventura County (Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and Simi Valley), which is divvied up by the first draft, effectively deeply endangering Republicans Elton Gallegly (R-CA24) and Senator Tony Strickland (R-SD19). Due to the Commission’s need to respect Voting Rights Act considerations in Monterey, the dominoes eventually come to fall in East Ventura County, forcing either Simi Valley or part of Thousand Oaks to be taken out of the County when it comes to Congressional and State Senate lines–a fact of which the Commissioners twice reminded conservatives in the audience. Minions of the local Chambers of Commerce and local city elected officials from deeply Republican cities got there early, lining up to advocate for keeping both Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks within Ventura County confines and out of the clutches of hated Los Angeles or the hated coastal areas–with the neat side effect of keeping Strickland and Gallegly in safe seats. And in fact, self-defined communities of interest seemed to alchemically shift depending on whether the congressional or state senate seats were in question, which very conveniently benefited Strickland or Gallegly depending on the situation.

More credible activity came from activists affiliated with CAUSE (Coastal Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy), which presented an alternative redistricting map at the Assembly level that would keep whole the long-overlooked and long-cracked city of Oxnard, the largest city in Ventura County, while also keeping more of the Latino population in an assembly district of interest. Oxnard is currently set to be split once again by the first draft map. Politically speaking, this would have the net effect of significantly slightly reducing the safety of the seat held by Democrat Das Williams (D-AD35), while increasing the chances for Democratic victory in the district directly to east, most of which is held by Jeff Gorell (R-AD37). Democratic firefighter and Fiona Ma fiance Jason Hodge made a somewhat pre-emptive declaration for the seat, perhaps overly optimistically assuming favorable district lines similar to CAUSE’s proposal that had not been set in stone. If the Commission’s first draft holds, that district would be a nearly even split between Democrats and Republicans, making any Democrat seeking it hard-pressed to push Afghanistan veteran and Republican incumbent Jeff Gorell out of office, even given a Democratic field that would be unlikely to remain fully clear (disclaimer: I worked as campaign manager for the 2010 Democratic nominee for AD37, Ferial Masry. Ms. Masry currently has no plans to run again in the district.) CAUSE and its left-of-center allies are much less partisan than Chamber and its Republican allies, if for no other reason than that the new maps are all downside for the GOP, while shifting Democratic populations into Gorell’s district comes at the slight expense of Das Williams, so there are no easy answers from a purely Democratic partisan perspective.

Perhaps most amusing were the constant assertions, mostly from conservatives but from progressives as well, that the new district lines would present some sort of life-altering problems for local communities. A constant conservative refrain, for instance, was that coastal communities should remain coastal while inland communities remain inland. While this sort of claim certainly makes sense on a city boundary or school board boundary level, it makes much less sense from the perspective of Assembly, Senate and Congressional races. Given the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans, the simple reality is that a Democratic representative living on the beach has much more in common with another Democrat living in the deserts and mountains, than she does with a Republican in a beach house a few miles away. And vice versa. In actual reality rather than a Broderist non-partisan unicorn fantasy world, partisanship is a much, much larger divide for legislators than are communities of interest. Which, of course, turns the entire redistricting hearings into a farce: local partisan after local partisan steps up to the microphone to talk about “communities of interest” being affected, when the reality is that 99% of what is really affected has little to do with local divisions, and a great deal more to do with divisions in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Which means that politics is inescapably at the heart of the process. The Citizens Redistricting Commission would be much better served by having an ostensibly non-partisan board, but allowing local partisans to advocate openly without forcing activists into the gamesmanship of pretense through the fear that their statements and opinions would be discarded.

Finally, as to the character of the local Republicans and conservatives, it was clear once again that the GOP has a massive demographic problem. The vast majority of those who gave conservative testimony at the commission were white and over the age of 65, while those on the left-hand side skewed somewhat younger and considerably browner. The refrains included a panoply of coded racial resentments (“culture”, “lifestyle” “our interests” and “our heritage” being among them) expressing outrage, as the Ventura County Star’s Timm Herdt aptly notes, at being associated with Los Angeles, Oxnard or other dreaded areas where (gasp!) brown people might congregate:

The refrain for the evening was “We don’t love L.A.” – the antithesis of Newman’s ballad to the city.

Speaker after speaker urged the commission to recast its proposed Assembly, Senate and congressional district lines to avoid putting any part of Ventura County with its gargantuan neighbor.

“The reason I’m here is I wanted to leave L.A. I didn’t like it,” said Harry Copeland of Ventura. “Their representatives are going to be different from what we want.”

Republicans might want to be reminded of the fact that “white flight” does not constitute a community of interest, and “get off my lawn” does not constitute a valid political opinion. Like the rest of California, Ventura County is changing and rapidly so. No amount of gerrymandering can keep it safe for a literally dying demographic, no matter how hard the Chamber of Commerce tries to make it so.

Palin to Speak in Simi Valley


I opened the Ventura County Star this morning to learn (from the top headline, no less) that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will appear at a fundraiser for the Republican Women Federated of Simi Valley next month.

Oh the shame, the shame this brings upon my beloved Ventura County!

Even thought they’ve returned Elton Gallegly to Congress for 22 wasted years, and provided Sacramento with the “Donnie and Marie” of California politics (Audra and Tony Strickland) I have always took comfort in the hope that Ventura County’s Republicans weren’t as clueless as Orange County’s.

No more. Our humiliation is complete.

But wait, the event is expected to draw 900 people to that famous “Hanger on the Hilltop”, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. They’ll be charging $150 a plate for the seats… $100 for members, deal!

$150 a plate for a Republican state governor, Conservative Icon, and recent national-ticket Rockstar?

Who should be embarrassed here? Ventura County… or Gov. Sarah Palin?

Tony Strickland, the prankster sign thief

PhotobucketI recently found these images on myspace, in an album of “dirty political tricks” from a random user in Kansas. From what I can gather the photos were from a book entitled “Dirty Political Tricks”. Recognize that smile?  Well, that’s none other than SD-19 Candidate Tony Strickland. It’s pretty hard to miss that smirk, but if you doubt it, compare the up-close picture over the flip with his photos on the web.

So, as far as I can tell, here’s story. If anybody has corrections, let me know.  Bob Larkin is a Republican who has run a couple of times for the Assembly. He ran against Tom McClintock in 1996 (Results here).  Young Tony Strickland, a McClintock acolyte, didn’t appreciate that.  So he stole Larkin’s signs, and posted negative bumper stickers on others.

Isn’t that cute? You have to wonder how a man who has such open contempt for (small d) democracy will behave in the Senate.  Well, we need only look to how he fought partisan battles rather than producing results in the Assembly.

By the way, Larkin has some dirt from back in his campaign against Audra Strickland in 2006:

California Financial Campaign Disclosures have shown that Audra and Tony Strickland have been profiting for personal use over $150,000.00 from political action committees and their own campaigns to pay for personal expenses. Tony Strickland’s campaign committee actually paid Audra Strickland’s Company $120,000.00. (source: California Secretary of State)

The choice is clear: Hannah-Beth Jackson is on our  Calitics’ ActBlue Page.

Tony Strickland with a stolen sign: Photobucket

Weekend Odds And Ends

Here are a few tidbits on this GOTV weekend!

• Obviously everyone is going to be working hard for their causes and candidates, so it may be a little quiet around here.  I’ll be out walking all day tomorrow.  Oh, and don’t vote for the racist guy, Bill Johnson, as a Judge of the Superior Court (Office number 125) in LA County.

• Yesterday was the deadline for bills to get passed out of their chamber of origin, and the Assembly passed major subprime mortgage legislation, without help from Republicans (6 of them abstained despite being seated right in the chamber).  This bill has some good homeowner assistance elements that will allow people to restructure their financing before foreclosure.  A mortgage bill has also passed the State Senate, so some form of legislation will hopefully get to the governor post haste.

• One of the biggest problems with the housing crisis is that, as home sale prices lower, homeowners are reassessing their value and getting their property tax lowered, decreasing state revenue yet more.

• Sticking in the shiv before riding off into the sunset, Fabian Nuñez writes a puzzling op-ed in the Sacramento Bee approving of the Governor’s horrible idea to borrow against future lottery revenue.  Considering that the only sustainable solution to the permanent crisis mode that we have in our budget is to reorganize the tax structure instead of constantly borrowing, I have no idea why any Democrat would veer so far off message and undermine the new Speaker’s ability to move forward.  What’s more, lotteries are regressive taxes on the poor.

• One spot where there will be a lot of action on Tuesday is in Ventura County, where Democrats now outnumber Republicans and which could have contested elections in the Assembly, Senate and US Congress.  However, the LA Times shows its political acumen by writing:

One of the more closely watched contests on Tuesday will be the Democratic primary in the 24th Congressional District. Insurance agent Mary Pallant of Oak Park; Marta Jorgensen, a Solvang educator; and Oxnard businesswoman Jill Martinez are running.

Marta Jorgensen quit the race over a month ago and endorsed Martinez.  Way to go, LAT.

• Excellent news out of Los Angeles: there’s been a $1 million dollar settlement with Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center for their dumping homeless patients on Skid Row.  They will also be monitored by a US Attorney for five years.  This unethical practice has reached a reasonable conclusion.  Hollywood Presbyterian deserved punishment.

• Trying to get rid of marijuana grow houses in Arcata is like trying to get rid of the Pacific Ocean on the California coast.


The Flip Side Of Tom McKeyes’ Carpetbagging

It’s interesting, to say the least, that on the same day Tom McClintock packed up the station wagon and left Ventura County, we also find out that Democrats have taken the registration advantage in that same county.

In the parlance of 21st century politics, Ventura County has turned blue.

As of Monday, registered Democrats became the majority voting group in the county, surpassing Republican registration for the first time since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

The latest numbers: 150,066 Democrats and 149,627 Republicans.

“Everybody’s on cloud nine,” said Laura Winchester of Thousand Oaks, vice chairwoman of the county Democratic Central Committee. “From the standpoint of momentum, this is a huge blow to Republicans.”

I know a lot of these Ventura County Democratic activists, and they worked their asses off to reach this point.  Ventura is the beginning of a wide-ranging red-to-blue program to recapture more than the coastal and urban regions of the state.  McClintock left Ventura County because he was termed out.  But he didn’t exactly have a safe haven anymore in Thousand Oaks, either.

This bodes very well for SD-19 and Hannah-Beth Jackson.  Now if we had a solid candidate in CA-24…

… the CDP has more.

Ventura County Blues

Ventura County Democrats deserve a huge shout-out from all of us. On Monday, their Registrar of Voters announced that the number of registered Democrats has surpassed the number of registered Republicans, turning Ventura County blue. Here’s the announcement from the Ventura County Democrats website:

The Republicans have held the advantage for over 20 years in the county. Just 4 years ago, that advantage was a daunting 16,000. Today Dems took the lead, with 439 more registered Democrats than Reps.

The numbers are as follows:

  • Dem: 150,066
  • Rep: 149, 627
  • DTS: 69,987

We’ve got a great team in the local Dem Party and more are joining us to get involved in this exciting Presidential election year. Congrats to all involved who made this happen!

Hmm. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the very next day after this announcement was made, Tom McClintock fled his home in Ventura County, making the 418 mile trip up to CA-04 in search of a red district?  

We’ve been writing for the last couple of weeks about the important role that Democratic County Central Committees play throughout the State of California.  The stunning gains being made in Democratic registration are just one example of their great work.  But you know what? These Central Committees are only as strong as their members.

Up in Tom McClintock’s new home, CA-04, there are nine counties (count them — Butte, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra). Their Democratic County Central Committees are also working hard to register Democrats and support Democratic candidates like Charlie Brown — and we hope that they’re successful in chasing Tom McClintock out of CA-04, as well.

But each one of those Democratic County Central Committees needs the help of committed, hard-working Democrats in their communities. Several of these County Central Committees in CA-04 don’t even have enough candidates running for office to make it onto the ballot.

Even the mighty Ventura County Central Committee needs your help. According to their website, four out of five districts in Ventura County still have vacant slots; overall, just two days away from the end of the filing period, they are six candidates short of having a complete Central Committee.

Time is running out. The deadline for filing to become a candidate is this Friday, March 7, at 5:00 p.m. But it’s not too late to get started. Just head on over to the CDP website to get all the information on how you can file before Friday to run for your Democratic County Central Committee.

Who knows — if we all work hard enough at organizing, maybe Tom McClintock will be left with nowhere to run!


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

CA-24: Richard Francis Mulling Challenge to Gallegly

The LA Times writes a story about a possible challenge in CA-24, one of the few Congressional districts in the state which is somewhat purple (registration is 44-34 Republican, but with a lot of DTS votes), by a big-name Democratic opponent.

For months now, Democratic activists have been urging Ventura lawyer Richard Francis to run next year for the seat held by Elton Gallegly, Ventura County’s longtime Republican congressman.

Gallegly’s backing of the Iraq war and his record on environmental issues could make the 11-term representative vulnerable with crossover voters who want the war to end and are worried about the effects of global warming, they argue.

Francis, the author of Ventura County’s popular slow-growth laws, Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources, would be the most credible challenger to face Gallegly since 2000. In that year, Ventura lawyer Michael Case finished 13 percentage points behind Gallegly.

“He has name recognition because of SOAR. He’s working on a traffic issue in Oxnard right now. And he’s a former mayor of Ventura,” county Democratic Chairman Bill Gallaher said of Francis. “He’s out there with popular issues that seem to be supported in the area.”

Francis would likely not be the only challenger.  Jill Martinez, the 2006 candidate, may run again.  So might Mary Pallant, an ex-Republican-turned-progressive who was elected on the same delegate slate as mine in the 41st Assembly District.

Gallegly is always a threat to retire.  He pretty much did last year before changing his mind after it became clear he annonced too late for any Republican to run in his place. 

In a recent interview, the 63-year-old legislator said he was in excellent health but hinted that he still was thinking about retirement after two decades in office. For now, all he will publicly say is that he is keeping his options open for the June 2008 primary.

“The dynamics have changed dramatically in the last year or so. Now [the Republicans] are in the minority,” Gallegly said, referring to the Democratic takeover of both houses of Congress in November. “Leadership has put a full-court press on some of the more seasoned people. It’s an honor to have people trying to convince you to stay.”

Gallegly said he’d make a final decision in January or early February.

Francis has made a name for himself in the the district with his drafting of a policy that enables voters to control the fate of any growth and development decisions in most of Ventura county.  These wildly popular initiatives have been vital to preservation and environmental protection in the region.  This could be a model for the nation if Francis is called to Washington to serve.

Obviously, the major issue in any race is going to be Iraq, and Gallegly continues to be a Bush rubber stamp, ignoring the will of the electorate in his district and throughout the nation.

But Gallegly, who has voted to support President Bush every step of the way, said he stands by his votes.

“I don’t know anyone who likes war. I don’t like war,” Gallegly said. “But I don’t like people who posture to do us great harm.”

He isn’t worried either that his environmental record will hurt him. According to the League of National Conservation Voters, Gallegly has voted 8% of the time in favor of legislation it supported over the last eight years.

I do think that this seat is ripe for a major challenge, whether by Francis or somebody else.  The demographics are changing as more Democrats priced out of Santa Barbara move in.  Ventura County Democratic groups have worked hard on voter registration and outreach.  If they unite behind a candidate who can raise enough money, I think they can make a play at Gallegly.