We seldom see presidents or presidential candidates here in Modesto, and we don't see much of U.S. senators either, except when they're looking for votes or campaign donations. Even then, Fresno is the typical valley stop. So it's welcome and a little intriguing that Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants to visit.
She contacted the Modesto Chamber of Commerce last week and asked officials if they would be willing to host a luncheon presentation for her Aug. 29 at the DoubleTree Hotel. That's a quick turnaround for this kind of thing, but chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Cecil Russell put it together.
What wasn't made clear to Russell is exactly what our senior senator wants to talk about.
I reached one of Feinstein's press people, who wrote back by e-mail: "The senator speaks at lunches throughout the state and hasn't been in Modesto for a while, so no reason beyond that. This is one of her series of Washington Report talks where she provides updates on a wide range of issues ranging from the economy to housing to national security; water infrastructure will definitely be a topic about which she speaks."
Feinstein is running for re-election, but she's the heavy favorite. And this is not a fund-raising event for her campaign. The chamber is handling the money, and tickets are only $35 each. Invites went to chamber members, local government leaders from around the area and ag leaders. Feinstein is particularly knowledgeable and powerful on water issues, and I think even the Republicans will want to hear her and share what's on their minds as well.
I predict we haven't heard the last of "limp, lame and lazy," the disparaging phrase used by Sheriff Adam Christianson and other managers referring to deputies who were not available for full active duty due to an injury or family leave. For one thing, it's a memorable term. More important, it suggests that morale and management treatment of employees in the sheriff's office will be an issue in the 2014 race for sheriff.
Christianson has already started his re-election effort and he could have a challenger from inside his office. Sheriff's Lt. Tori Hughes, police chief in Patterson, has been telling people for some time that she wants to run for sheriff. I asked her about it last week, and she said she hopes to be sheriff someday, but doesn't know yet whether she will run in 2014 or later.
Christianson is 49; Hughes is 36 and a 13-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department. Although Hughes spent much of her youth in Arizona, she has strong family ties here and a link to local politics. She is the granddaughter of the late Bill Hughes, who served on the Modesto City Council from 1963-69.
By the way, Hughes was among the witnesses in the civil trial, and she testified she heard Christianson make reference to the "limp, lame and lazy" list a number of times.
Something to remember about congressional representatives: They don't have to live in the district they represent, only in the state. It's in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, which also also specifies that a representative must be at least 25 and a citizen of the United States for at least seven years.
But despite the constitutional leeway, members of Congress usually live in their district. And when they don't, it sometimes becomes a campaign issue at least to their opponents.
That's the case for the new 9th Congressional District. According to The Record in Stockton, challenger Ricky Gill is making a commotion of the fact that Jerry McNerney doesn't appear to live in San Joaquin County full-time, although McNerney indicated he would move there from Pleasanton, which is in the old 11th District, which McNerney currently represents. McNerney acquired a house in Stockton's Brookside neighborhood but isn't seen there much.
The irony here? As The Record noted, Gill "hasn't lived in the county for years. He's been away at college, then he was away at law school, and he has now moved back and is looking for work. A job as a congressman is his entry-level choice."
A postscript: People serving in the state Legislature and on City Council and other local government positions do have to live in the districts they represent. Congress is the exception.
Later this month, the national political spotlights shift to the southeast for the two big party conventions. Several local citizens are headed that way. Delegates are chosen by the new congressional lines, so those from Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin County are from the 10th Congressional District.
Going to the Republican National Convention, Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla., will be Joan Clendenin and Bret de St. Jeor of Modesto, and Sonia Denham, wife of Rep. Jeff Denham, who also was a delegate to the GOP convention in 2008.
The delegates to the Democratic National Convention Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, N.C., will be Jean Hendrix, Ken Viscovich and Manmeet Grewal of Modesto and Margaret Souza and Joe A. Souza of Turlock.
I'm sure they'll all have a great time and that our valley's dry heat will be a welcome relief when they return.
Sly is editor of the Opinions pages. Contact her at (209) 578-2317, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @judysly.