The Riverside/San Bernardino County area, aka Inland Empire (whose Empire, I always want to know)recently beat Detroit for the dubious honor of being No. 1 in unemployment nationwide. The Democratic challenger for the 65th Assembly District, Carl Wood, is running on job creation and tax fairness (ie, make corporations pay their fair share). The incumbent Republican has no record whatsoever on jobs, and recently gave struggling homeowners the back of his hand on foreclosure relief.
The only hope for turning this District around is voter turnout. A bit of local press on Wood’s odds in the extended diary. Carl’s Act Blue page is here.
Wood’s performance in 2008 was by far the best showing by a Democrat in the district this decade. Before 2008, Cook and Republican candidates before him had won lopsided victories – margins of victory of about 24 percentage points on average – in the 65th District, which stretches from Big Bear Lake to Hemet and from Yucaipa to Twentynine Palms.
But in 2008, Cook’s margin of victory was just 6.6 percentage points. Repeating that showing will be difficult though, as Wood was almost certainly helped by the groundswell of Democratic voter turnout that propelled President Barack Obama to victory and boosted many other otherwise-longshot Democratic candidates.
Wood knows turnout will be key this year if he hopes to build on last year’s near-success.
“That’s what makes this race so unpredictable,” he said. “It’s so heavily dependent on voter turnout. If there’s good turnout, I think I stand a good chance of winning.”
Wood had the Obama surge in 2008, but no campaign structure to speak of. This time he has a strong volunteer base, union boots on the ground, and better name recognition. Bill Hedrick’s excellent campaign* for the CA 44th CD is another plus for Carl, their districts overlap, and they share progressive values. If we can pull this off, Sacramento will get a true bold progressive, one who can actually utter the word taxes without an apology, and leave his audience convinced that they’ve been had by the GOP.
*Corrected from previous version, wherein I invert the candidates and call it GOP Rep. Ken Calvert’s excellent campaign. Ken Calvert (h/t to Howie Klein)is the incumbent we need to remove.