|Farmer Andy Vidak takes Senate seat from the Democrats.|
A Farmer Wins Election
Instead of another Bastard Lawyer
A special election for a southern San Joaquin Valley Senate seat is still too close to call. Yesterday’s special election could weaken California Democrats’ supermajority.
Republican Andy Vidak has pulled ahead of Democrat Leticia Perez by about six thousand votes in the 16th Senate District contest. With all precincts reporting, Vidak has 54 percent of the vote to Perez’s 46 percent. But there are still thousands of late vote-by-mail and provisional ballots to count in Kings, Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties.
Vidak, a 47-year old, third-generation Republican farmer from Hanford, seemed to win 51.9 percent of the vote in the special election in May over Bakersfield Democrat Leticia Perez for the Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Bakersfield.
Vidak needed 50 percent-plus-one votes to avoid a runoff against Perez.
Vidak had good name recognition because of his 2010 run for Congress, when he narrowly lost his challenge to incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Costa.
|16th Senate District|
And because Vidak ran in this most recent race as a farmer, and not as a politician, many say people in his district trust him.
“Vidak was a good candidate with good name recognition,” Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party, told me in May. “And Chairman Brulte made it clear he was looking for as much support from everyone on the board, and from the counties.”
Dhillon said they couldn’t have done what they did without the help of an Independent Expenditure Committee headed by Republican Charles Munger. “The big giver to the Tulare County GOP is mega-Republican donor Charles T. Munger Jr. He’s contributed close to $270,000,” the Fresno Bee reported.
New California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte also authorized an Independent Expenditure Committee to be able to run television ads.
The California Republican Party has reported contributing more than $186,000 to Vidak's campaign, an amount supplemented by contributions from the Tulare County Republican Party ($21,381) and the San Luis Obispo Republican Central Committee ($40,000).
Union-backed independent expenditure committees, meanwhile, are putting their money behind Perez. Since July 1, the Democrat has benefited from nearly $200,000 spent on mailers, radio buys, Facebook ads and other activities of several IE committees, including those of SEIU Local 1000 and the California State Council of Service Employees.
Vidak reported $124,838 cash on hand as of July 6, while Perez reported $72,455, according to filings with the secretary of state through late last week.
|Ontario Mayor Paul Leon|
Leon re-registered in March from Republican
to no-party preference to run.
After being abandoned by the GOP, Leon registers as an Independent
On Tuesday, California held a special primary election for Assembly District 52 that could have far reaching consequences for both parties in California’s Legislature.
The 52nd Assembly District represents parts of cities in San Bernardino, Chino, and Pomona within the Inland Empire of Southern California.
AD 52 is up for grabs between candidates Paul S. Leon (No Party Preference) and Freddie Rodriguez (Democrat) after Democrat Norma Torres vacated the post in order to begin serving as State Senator from the 32nd district on March 12 of this year.
Torres leaves behind a predominately Hispanic/Latino voting district, with an estimated 68 percent of the district identifying as such reports IVN News.
Leon (NPP) entered the race with expectations that he would be one of the two candidates selected in the primary election. Currently the mayor of Ontario, Calif., Leon recently ran in the special election for Senate District 32 on March 12 earlier this year.
Unlike Leon, Rodriguez has been endorsed by the Democratic Party and is currently serving his 7th year on Pomona’s City Council. The runoff election will be the first head-to-head election of Rodriguez’s political career.
|52nd Assembly District|
Nine candidates were on the ballot for the special primary election, with seven Democrats, one Republican, and one candidate who declined to state a political party. Although AD 52 is a firmly Democratic district, of the three candidates who received the most votes, only one was a Democrat.
When there are seven candidates, it can be difficult for the average voter to determine which candidate ultimately is more sympathetic to their personal views. Not only this, but 9.2 percent of eligible voters participated — only 15,244 votes were cast out of a registered voting pool of 174,057.
The special primary election saw 15,244 total votes recorded, with 10,611 from San Bernardino County, and 4633 from Los Angeles County. Leon received 3,828 district votes (25.1 percent), while Rodriguez received 3,292 votes (21.6 percent). Third place was awarded to Republican candidate Dorothy Pineda, who received 1,725 votes.
The special election proves to be an important one for California Democrats. Losing AD 52 would significantly thin out their supermajority in the Assembly. Assembly District 45 will also hold a special election later this year.
With a legislative supermajority at stake, Democratic leaders will surely be monitoring the outcome of the runoff election between Leon and Rodriguez on September 24, 2013.