Opinion Columns & Blogs

January 9, 2010

Sly: Guess who's running for office? Me! But then again...

I know I've said I would never run for public office, but what the heck, everybody's doing it.

I don't live in either the 25th Assembly or the 19th Congressional districts, both of which have open races, but that shouldn't matter. I can move; others are doing it. Politicians have to sacrifice; that's what I'll tell my husband and my dog.

But wait, an announcement isn't the same as a commitment. I can always change my mind. Others have, like Jeff Denham, who now is in the congressional race after declaring and then scratching on lieutenant governor and Assembly.

The key, it seems, is to keep a very straight face when explaining to supporters and would-be endorsers and campaign contributors why this office now is the right one for you.

In politics, you ignore questions about inconsistencies. Such as, why didn't Richard Pombo of Tracy go for a rematch against Jerry McNerney on their home turf -- the 11th Congressional District? Is he afraid to take on the incumbent who beat him just a few years ago? And isn't this the man who favored term limits and vowed never to be a career politician?

Instead, we're to believe that he suddenly cares about folks in the 19th Congressional District, where he'll move only if he wins? I'm straining to believe this.

So where are the Democrats in all this? Only one has emerged for the 25th Assembly race. As a thoughtful political observer commented to me the other day, the Democrats have a "weak bench."

But there's another way to look at it. The 25th and 26th Assembly Districts, the 14th Senate District and the 19th Congressional District all are gerrymandered to go to Republicans, so why would the Democrats even try?

Fortunately, there could be changes in 2012 and beyond, after a citizens' redistricting commission takes over drawing the lines for the state seats.

I've never run for elective office, but that means I've never lost and never been the subject of a civil grand jury probe that concluded I wasn't a legitimate candidate -- unlike the latest Assembly hopeful.

When Jesse James White won a Riverbank council seat at age 19, he said he looked forward to having his grandpa nearby on the dais. As I know from watching, grandpa provides cues to Jesse. Now Jesse's 20 and jumped into that crowded 25th Assembly race. On the slim chance Jesse should win, will Dave White be providing signals from the Capitol balcony?

Finally, have you noticed the common refrains among most of these hard-running politicos? They're all disgusted and darned sure that they can do things better. But to win their primaries, they'll have to subscribe to the extreme positions, vowing never to compromise.

That's where I differ; I think compromise is an essential part of politics, not an evil.

Oh, and I don't belong to any party, and all the action so far has to do with party politics.

So, I guess I won't be running after all. Besides, I love my current job, with its front-row seat on local politics. And this is going to be an especially entertaining season.

On a serious note: While so much attention is on June, there's a very important election coming up in November, when citizens in seven Stanislaus County cities (all except Modesto and Ceres) will elect city council members.

Once again, The Bee is joining with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the two major parties to present a free workshop for prospective candidates. It will be Feb. 10, beginning at 7 p.m., in the basement auditorium of the Modesto-Stanislaus Library. Advance registration is not required but is requested. Call 577-5757 or e-mail chamberassistant@modchamber.org.

Sly is editor of the Opinions pages. Contact her at jsly@modbee.com or 578-2317.

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