POLITICAL WRANGLING: LOCAL CAMPAIGNS HEAT UP, FROM MUDSLINGING TO SINGING

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By Buck Shott

 

Hot on the campaign trail in East County, we’ve got the latest claims, controversies, mud slinging and... singing!

Here’s our rundown of the juiciest campaign tidbits as Election Day draws near:

Fake photo:  Campaign materials for a slate of conservatives running for the La Mesa Spring-Valley School Board (Rev. Steve Babbitt, Megan Epperson and Briana Garza) has a photo of a smiling, attractive Hispanic-looking woman posing as a teacher. But she’s not Garza (who is not a teacher). When opponents raised objections on Facebook, Babbitt admitted the image is a “stock photo.”   

“Caught in the act: Campaigning on taxpayers’ dime.”  Ouch. That’s the headline on a mailer from El Cajon Councilman Gary Kendrick targeting his opponent, Councilman Ben Kalasho.  It shows a letter from the city attorney to Kalasho threatening legal action if Kalasho won't cease using the city’s seal on campaign materials after repeated warnings. Fact check: This is true. So are claims that Kalasho is  being sued for sexual harassment and pled guilty to workman’s comp fraud.  He was sentenced to probation for fraud counts, but his probation ended October 1st.

Music video:  In a creative campaign tactic, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar sings in a  music video titled “I believe We Will” filled with positive messages of inclusivity in his effort to unseat indicted Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine).  Could the video propel Campa-Najjar into Congress—or if that doesn’t work out—perhaps a new career as a rock star?

Hunter speaks out: Hunter appeared on KUSI in an interview talking about his campaign, the improving economy, national defense, and immigration,  Pressed on immigrant issues, Hunter took a divisive stance. “These people don’t deserve to come here,” he insisted, adding that refugees should stay in their own countries and fight to make them safer.

What happens if Hunter wins, then gets convicted?  According to a Union-Tribune article,  it might depend who’s in charge. If the GOP keeps control of the House, they could allow Hunter to remain in office – even if he’s in prison for several years.  More likely he’d be pressured to resign if found guilty of felony charges that he looted campaign money for personal use, but he could face expulsion especially if Democrats regain control of the House.  That would trigger a special election—at taxpayers’ expense.

Elia on KUSI:  71st Assembly District candidate James Elia, a Democrat, sat down for an in-depth interview on KUSI – talking about high housing and rent costs, homelessness, and education issues. He also chided his opponent, Assemblyman Randy Voepel (R-Santee) for dodging 15 debate opportunities.  Elia also called for creation of a state bank, similar to North Dakota’s which is rated by consumers as the number one bank in the U.S., he says.

La Mesa Councilman slammed for Solana Beach mailer:  A video circulating on YouTube from La Mesa City Council’s public session this week shows a Solana Beach Councilmember criticizing Councilman Bill Baber, treasurer for a PAC that sent a mailer suggesting some Solana Beach councilmembers are corrupt.  “Why is a La Mesa City Councilmember getting deep into a Solana Beach City Council race?”  she asked.

But Baber told ECM it’s “unfair” to blame him for content of the mailer, adding that he represents some 30 groups as a professional campaign treasurer. “I don’t have authority to make decisions on the content of people’s mail,” he says, likening the situation to blaming a defense attorney for actions of clients they represent.