Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In DA Race, At Least One Endorser Believes In A Good Defense

Keeping track of who's backing who in the DA's race could make your head spin. Let me see, former DA Tom Sneddon and former assistant DA Pat McKinley are backing Josh Lynn while long-time deputy DA's Hillary Dozier and Ron Zonen are endorsing Joyce Dudley.

Sheriff Bill Brown is supporting Dudley, while former sheriff Jim Thomas is throwing his weight behind Lynn.

The Santa Barbara Police Officers Association is supporting Dudley while the Deputy Sheriff's Association backs Lynn.

And UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland is a pitchman for Dudley.

Ben Howland coach of the Bruins! What's he doing getting involved in this local campaign?

According to Dudley, who responded to my inquiry about Howland's endorsement via a voice mail message, she's known Howland for "many, many years," going back to when he was an assistant coach at UCSB. She also says she's known Howland's mother, who still lives in Santa Barbara, for "many, many years." Howland can be seen in one of Dudley's TV spots sitting in a chair and extolling Dudley's virtues as he speaks to someone who is seated off camera.

Howland, who grew up here, was a local basketball standout in the early 1970s while playing at Dos Pueblos High and also played at Santa Barbara City College where he led the Vaqueros to the State Finals in 1978. Howland served as an assistant coach for the UCSB basketball team from 1982-1994.

Since becoming head coach at UCLA, Howland has led the Bruins to three straight Pacific-10 Conference titles and three consecutive Final Four appearances.

So, if Dudley wins the election, in all likelihood it will be without the USC vote.

Over the weekend, Dudley picked up the endorsement of the Santa Maria Times (remember this is a county-wide race.) In noting that, "voters really can’t go wrong in this race," it called Dudley "the better of two excellent choices."

The editorial also noted that, the "tone and tenor of the campaign has . . . been unnecessarily negative — something for which both sides share blame," and expressed the hope that whoever is elected extends an olive branch to the other.

My guess is that's about as likely to happen as Howland going over to the USC campus and kissing the statue of Tommy Trojan.

Besides running in the Times the editorial endorsement also appeared in the Lompoc Record and the Santa Ynez Valley News, which are all under the same ownership.

That negative tone and tenor that the Times editorial referred to undoubtedly must include those two negative TV spots that the Lynn campaign is running. One is titled "Joyce Dudley Misconduct," and the other accuses Dudley of plea bargaining a murder case in order to get back on the campaign trail. If you've missed them on TV (and it can only be because you don't have cable and still have rabbit ears) you can view them at Lynn's website.

The handling of that murder case was explored in a Daily Sound article earlier this month. The Sound article points out that there's more to the story than the Lynn ads are suggesting.

And whose idea was it to go negative? Whoever it was, they probably aren't a regular reader of my blog where I've examined the history of negative campaigns and their lack of success locally.

Perhaps rather than going negative, Lynn should be doing what Dudley is doing, putting his endorsers front and center in his ads. Lynn's former bosses Sneddon and McKinley do appear in his TV commercials, but unless you know them personally, and have really sharp eyesight, you're likely to miss them as they walk side-by-side with him with the archway entrance of the Courthouse in the background.

Lynn and his posse.

If you'd like to make up your own mind about whom to vote for rather than pay attention to endorsements, the latest episode of Real Talk, Jerry Robert's public affairs show on the Santa Barbara Channels, features interviews with Lynn and Dudley as well as a joint appearance by Assembly Candidates Susan Jordan and Das Williams. It's being shown in heavy rotation now on Channel 21, or you can watch it online.

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