Troy McComak brought humor to the primary race for the 10th Congressional District. He's the young Patterson man who said he ran for office to impress a young woman. One of his more entertaining ideas was that the United States try to put Marines on the moon.
McComak's ballot designation listed him as a scientist-teacher-entrepreneur, but that was a wild overstatement. He's been a tutor and a substitute teacher since graduating from college, but acknowledged to me on Friday that he's not held a full-time job for longer than three weeks. (By the way, McComak said he didn't get the girl.)
I didn't take McComak, 27, very seriously in his run for Congress, but 2,114 people marked their ballots for him. That put him last in the five-man field, with 2.3 percent of the votes.
McComak isn't done with politics, however. He is running for mayor of Patterson against incumbent Luis Molina.
It would be easy to assume that McComak doesn't stand a chance, but his name is on the ballot and he's presenting himself as a viable option. As we've seen in Riverbank and elsewhere, voters can be so anti-incumbent or anti-establishment that they choose people they don't know much about.
Four years ago, The Bee did a relatively poor job informing Riverbank residents about the qualifications of the candidates for their City Council. Had we done a more thorough job, Riverbank might not have ended up with Jesse James White and all the embarrassment he caused the city and himself. White isn't running for re-election, and I honestly hope he can get his life in order.
In the meantime, I think Patterson voters need to know that the challenger for mayor is refusing to take responsibility for a debt related to to his congressional candidacy.
I filed a Public Records Act request for all the correspondence between the congressional candidates and the county elections office.
In a nutshell: Last spring, each of the five candidates for this congressional seat was asked to pay a $3,000 deposit on the estimated typesetting and printing cost for having their statements appear in the sample ballots. These statements are optional. Four of the five candidates paid their deposit.
McComak signed a statement on March 9 saying he was indigent and unable to pay the full deposit in advance. He paid $2,200 and was given a payment plan.
By early July, the county elections office had calculated the exact cost for the sample ballot statements and it worked out to $3,510.25 per candidate. Follow-up letters went out asking the candidates to pay the remainder of what they owed.
McComak wrote back, not with a check or a request for more time but insisting that the county elections office owed him $1,088.65. And why would that be? McComak wrote: "Because you did not do your job, and only 31.66 percent of the voters came out I therefore will be required to recoup the unused portion of my deposit."
He asked for a refund of $1,088.65 and said if he didn't have that amount by Aug. 1, penalty fees would be added.
It is the job of the county office to see that the election is conducted fairly, polls are open, accurate ballots go out and they're counted correctly. It is up to the candidates to persuade residents to care enough to vote. McComak's argument is ridiculous.
I checked with elections chief Lee Lundrigan late in the week and she said McComak's bill has been turned over to the county Treasurer's Office for collection.
Then I called McComak on Friday afternoon to try to understand his thinking. He suggested his argument amounted to "a different way to do business."
I asked him why he thought it was someone else's responsibility to rally voters. "I tried everything I could do," he said. He didn't buy my suggestion that his lack of success didn't make the debt someone else's responsibility. When pressed, McComak acknowledged he didn't have the $1,310.
Why didn't he ask for a longer payment plan? He responded with a sarcastic one-liner: "The government doesn't pay off its debts, so why should I pay off mine?"
I don't live in Patterson and I can't speak to Molina's performance as mayor. I'll leave it to Patterson residents to decide whether his challenger has the maturity to be their city leader.
Medicare is surfacing as the hot issue in ads in the 10th Congressional race and others across the country. My take: Political ads are more misleading than ever. Before you believe anything from either side, check PolitiFact.com or Factcheck.org. For a balanced evaluation of the various Medicare proposals, try the Kaiser Family Foundation site, www.kff.org.
Sly is editor of the Opinions pages. Contact her at (209) 578-2317 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @judysly.