By Buck Shott
February 12, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) - Politics and rodeos have a lot in common. Both are tough and gritty—and unwary competitors are apt to wind up in the dirt. Here’s the rundown on the latest colorful political wrangling in races impacting our region.
MUDSLING WATCH: It’s only February, but mud is already flying in the 36th State Senate race. Republican candidate Jeff Stone slung out an e-mail to media announcing endorsements by three directors of Padre Dam—where Stone’s likely primary opponent, Assemblyman Joel Anderson, used to hold a seat. Past board president August Caires launched a torpedo aimed at sinking Anderson’s campaign, calling him “morally unfit for public office.”
Caires said he and other board members “saw firsthand a pattern of unethical behavior that was very troubling.” After learning that Anderson got “caught and fined $20,000 by the state’s political watchdog organization for a campaign contribution money-laundering scheme,” Caires said he and the other directors became alarmed. “How can we trust Anderson to represent our best interests in Sacramento?”
With fellow party members like that, who needs enemies?
Stone and (perhaps) Anderson will vie for the seat left vacant by Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta), who must leave office due to term limits. Meanwhile, Democratic State Senate candidate Paul Clay, a teacher, says he’s used to dealing with “victims and victimizers” at a school with gang violence issues. No doubt that will prove useful experience in this no-holds-barred race!
Democrat Lori Saldaña has withdrawn plans to challenge Ron Roberts for a seat on the County Board of Supervisors, citing a need to focus on family after the unexpected death of her mother. But Dems aren’t dead in the waters: San Diego’s “surf’s up” Councilwoman Donna Frye is rumored to be considering diving in.
LATEST ACTIONS IN THE GOVERNOR’S RACE: LEGAL COMPLAINTS & DEBATE DODGING
Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner has sent a letter to law enforcement officials, charging that Mike Murphy, a key consultant to opponent Meg Whitman's campaign, threatened to drive him out of the GOP primary. Poizner, the state's insurance commissioner, claims Murphy crossed an ethical line by threatening in an e-mail to "tear me up" by spending "$40 million plus." At a press conference in Sacramento, he also claimed Whitman's staffers have called his staff to pressure him to step aside. (No wonder Whitman refused to debate Poizner at the state GOP convention days later!)
Poizner said he sent complaint letters to the state’s Attorney General, the F.B.I, U.S. attorney's office, California Secretary of State's Office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
In an ironic twist, Poizner seeks legal redress from the Democrats’ likely candidate for the race, Jerry Brown, the current AG. Who says truth isn’t stranger than fiction?
BUSBY RUSTLES UP A NEW JOB
Francine Busby has been appointed to fill an opening on the Cardiff School Board, where she’s formerly served. “Why would I want to serve again on the Cardiff School Board, knowing that within weeks I will be making cuts that are likely to anger parents, demoralize teachers and confound students?” she wrote in San Diego News Network. “It’s simple. I have invested over 20 years as an elected official and volunteer leader in Cardiff schools and believe that my experience will be helpful in making the difficult budget decisions that are coming up within weeks.”
Busby hasn’t abandoned plans to run again for Congress in the 50th district—meaning she’d have to step down from the school board if she completes the double hurdle of beating attorney Tracy Emblem in the primary, then unseating incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray in November. (Busby’s “temporary” job could come in mighty handy, though, if either Emblem or Bilbray scores a win.)
Emblem, the greenhorn in this race, is making a game run for the money—racking up endorsements from 11 labor unions and the national Progressive Democrats of America, among others. This week she gained ground with support from air traffic controllers, who are helping coordinate her “boots on the ground” campaign.
CRIMMINS GETS THE BOOT OVER EFFORTS TO OUST CHAIR
San Diego County’s Republican Central Committee this week voted by a 2/3 margin to kick off Michael Crimmins, who ran for Congress in 2008 against Democrat Susan Davis. The committee ousted Crimmins for “inappropriate behavior” and claims that he made “racial and violent remarks” against a fellow GOP committee member.
Crimmins is rumored to be behind a series of salacious e-mails sent anonymously to party insiders and media. Those e-mails accused California Republican Party Chair Ron Nehring of physically abusing a former girlfriend and alleged that San Diego GOP Chair Tony Kravric attempted to intimidate the woman’s employer in an effort to silence her. The Sacramento Bee claims to have reviewed photos of the woman, showing bruising, but said no police reports were filed and that talks with other former girlfriend’s of Nehring revealed no other accusations of abuse. E-mails sent prior to last week’s Central Committee meeting promised the allegedly battered beau would hold a press conference to answer media questions and present evidence documenting the allegations.
But no press conference was held, the supposed victim proved a no-show, and the only political future that appears to have been destroyed by the gossip is Crimmins' own.