Thursday, January 29, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Central Valley rematch is a political weathervane

TomEliasW

By
From page A6 | July 25, 2013 |

Jim Costa had to wait more than a year for the rematch that ignited his political career. Letitia Perez will only have to wait about two months.

Now a veteran Democratic moderate congressman from the Fresno-Madera area, Costa lost to Hanford Republican Phil Wyman in a special election in the 16th state Senate district in 1993, but came back a year later to win the seat and hold it until he was termed out in 2002.

Perez lost the same seat to a Republican in a May special election — or so it seemed until all votes were finally counted. Perez conceded after the May vote, saying in a written statement that “I want to congratulate (Republican) Andy Vidak on winning this hard-fought race.”

The Wall Street Journal hailed Vidak’s “victory” as a “farmers’ rebellion.” The state Republican Party looked on Vidak’s “win” as a sign it could succeed even in districts where Democrats have large registration advantages (17 percent in this case).

But not so fast. Turns out it was no win for Vidak at all. Even though his share of the vote hovered above 51 percent all through Election Night and into the next day, when provisional ballots and late absentee votes were counted, he fell to 49.8 percent, while Perez’ total eventually crept near 44 percent, and the two headed for a July runoff.

The questions for Perez, a rookie Kern County supervisor: Can she win the 5.6 percent of votes that went to the other Democrats in the race, both Latino like her? Can she get the 471 votes cast for a Peace and Freedom Party candidate?

For sure, Democrats in May didn’t vote in the numbers expected in the populous Kern and Fresno county portions of the district. Meanwhile, Vidak, a Kings County cherry farmer who lost a previous race for congress to Costa, dominated in Kings and Tulare counties, while Perez didn’t win her key areas by the margins expected.

As far as party control of the state Senate right now, this race means little. Democrats already hold 28 of the 40 seats there, while Republicans have only 11. That gives Democrats a veto-proof two-thirds majority, no matter who wins in the 16th, even though they will lose one seat temporarily when Curren Price takes his newly-won seat on the Los Angeles City Council.

But if Perez wins, she could hold the seat for as long as 13 years, since legislators can now serve up to 12 years worth of regular terms in the same house before having to leave. The 18 months remaining in the current term would not keep her from serving three more full terms if she can win enough elections.

Republicans initially saw this contest as a very hopeful sign. Yes, they generally do better in special elections than in general elections when votes are also cast for president, governor and the U.S. Senate. Yes, this district (or parts of it, since it was reconfigured in 2012) has been represented by Republicans in recent years.

But the “farmers’ rebellion” (presumably against environmental rules mostly promulgated by Democrats) wasn’t all the Wall Street Journal thought it was, despite the state GOP investing more than $200,000 in the race. The runoff might determine whether there really is a farmers’ rebellion of any significance.

Now the main question is whether Perez can draw Democratic voters who stayed home in May. She won’t have to produce very many of them. And if she can win in an area whose elected offices often are decided by small margins, it will be a sign that the Democratic registration advantages so common all over California mean a lot.

There’s also the question of whether Democrats can turn out voters better in July in Republican-leaning Kings and Tulare counties, which are dominated by farm interests to a greater extent than Kern and Fresno counties, both of which contain large cities – Bakersfield and Fresno.

Democrats pointed at heavily Latino towns like Lindsay, Woodlake and Dinuba as places where they can get more votes next month.

It’s a quick turnaround, amounting to a rematch between Vidak and Perez, who were the clear frontrunners from the day the special election was scheduled.

This runoff will also be more of a pure harbinger than the first go-’round, if only because the less popular candidates are gone.

The bottom line: If a moderate Republican like Vidak can’t win in an agricultural district like the 16th, the GOP will once again have to wonder about its prospects anywhere outside its base areas of Orange and northern San Diego counties.

— Email Thomas Elias at [email protected] His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net

Comments

comments

.

News

 
‘Huck’ and ‘Tom’ float old Arboretum dock to removal

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Work continues to modernize Davis Healthcare Center

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

Holman continues to educate and inspire

By Daniella Tutino | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Biologists: Raising California dam would harm salmon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Teens arrested after midnight joyride

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Overweight video game avatars ‘play’ worse than fit ones

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Meet the mayor for coffee at Peet’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Author joins radio show

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Make your own SoulCollage on Sunday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Calling all chicken owners: Apply for coop crawl, share information

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Walk through Quail Ridge Reserve on Feb. 14

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Hopmans named associate vice provost for global affairs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Review motivation to refresh your healthy-habits plan

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Tips to protect skin this winter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
For health and healthy appearance, there’s just one quick fix

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Measles outbreak grows

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

 
NAMI-Yolo examines inpatient services at potluck

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Basement living, with attitude to match

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
50 years since Ash Hall

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Can climate change bring us together?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Paso Fino coming to a vote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Aggies still looking for record hoops win

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Blue Devil Hammond has a huge day at home

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Pent up? Join Davis’ latest athletic event

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Two in a row for Devil boys

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

UCD roundup: Aggie football players crack the books

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
Youth roundup: Harper hoopsters off to hot start

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Treys send Toronto past Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

It’s Girl Scout Cookie time!

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

College Corner: Have wanderlust? Go overseas for college

By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A8

 
District learns from bomb threat incident

By Kellen Browning | From Page: A8

Feenstra-Fisher wedding

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
.

Arts

Show explores the evolution of dance

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
A rose by any other name — if there is one

By Michael Lewis | From Page: A11

 
Acclaimed guitarist Adrian Legg to play at The Palms on Saturday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Business

.

Obituaries

James George Tingus

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, January 29, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B6