Thursday, February 18, 2010

He's "Stoked" About This Battle

Now that the Santa Barbara Film Fest is over, it's time for me to get back to covering the real entertainment in town: Politics.

Think Hannah-Beth Jackson vs. Tony Strickland; Das Williams vs. Susan Jordan; Joyce Dudley vs. Josh Lynn. Is it just me, or are elections where the opposing candidates are of the opposite sex particularly bitter and nasty?

Today I'll start with the Williams vs. Jordan race. The two are vying to be the Democratic party's nominee for State Assembly Member representing the 35th District. This is the first time since 2004 that the seat has been open with no incumbent in the race. (Although Jordan's husband, Pedro Nava, is the present incumbent who has term-limited out.) The winner, in all likelihood, will face Republican Mike Stoker in the November general election. To be sure though, Stoker too has an opponent in his Republican primary race: Political newcomer Daniel Goldberg. (Goldberg actually blogs for the Ventura County Star.)

With a little less than four months to go before the June primary, and considering the amount of money raised so far by Williams and Jordan, when it's all said and done, the total collected and spent by these two candidates figures to equal the gross national product of a small third-world country. They're putting the "worth" into "worthy opponents."

Given they're both good Democrats, you wouldn't think that Williams and Jordan would have that much to fight about, But the only thing they seem to be able to publicly agree on is that they both endorse Tim Allison for Congress.

In an e-mail he sent out February 1 to supporters and media, Stoker predicted that the primary race between Williams and Jordan, "will surely be a political nuclear war of negative campaigning." I thought Republicans stopped casually pairing the words "nuclear" and "war" about the same time Barry Goldwater was seen riding off into the Arizona desert.

In any event, I could almost hear Stoker rubbing his hands together in gleeful anticipation as I read his words. He clearly thinks that whomever survives the Democratic primary will be too decimated to put up much of a fight against him in November.

But regardless of whether they're going to wipe each other off the face of the earth or merely put the other down for the count, the primary race between Williams and Jordan figures to be a real rumble.

As described by Josh Molina in The Daily Sound, the latest exchange of recriminations began when Jordan's camp released literature that accused Williams of being "anti-labor" and "in the pocket" of the billionaire Peter Sperling. One of William's supporters countered by sending out a letter blasting Jordan for her role as a partner in a consulting firm that did work on behalf of Republican candidates. (Jordan has since stated that her work with the firm was non-political.)

Another piece that has been making the rounds under the heading, "A closer look at Das Williams' record," asserts that, "The dean of Santa Barbara political columnists wrote that Williams was 'trying too hard to be too many things to too many people,'" and was accompanied by a reprint of an April 2009, Travis Armstrong op-ed page column that blasted Williams for claiming to be Latino.

Of course, if your target audience is fair-minded Democrats, it's probably best not to be citing Armstrong, the former News-Press Pit Bull, to them chapter and verse. Can you say, "backfire?"

But, in politics, when the going gets tough, the tough go negative. And Stoker is the only person who seems to think this will be a positive.
© 2010 by Craig Smith and