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Cogdill has many good traits, but charisma isn't one of them

Dave Cogdill of Modesto was elected Senate Republican leader because he's true to party ideals, he's smart and he doesn't do stupid things or embarrass the party (in comparison to, say, the current Senate majority leader).

But as Modestans know from watching him over the years, Cogdill isn't going to become a Sacramento celebrity. He doesn't have the flamboyant personality for it. He acknowledged as much when he spoke recently to the Sacramento Press Club.

According to the Capitol Morning Report, an online newsletter, Cogdill "apologized at the start of his talk for being 'a nuts-and-bolts kind of guy.' He said former Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte 'joked that I was elected so that Dick Ackerman would look more charismatic.' " Ackerman was his predecessor in the minority leadership position.

State legislators will be busy this month, not only getting bills passed by the Aug. 31 deadline and adopting a budget, but also raising money for the November election. The Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert reported that Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines organized a joint fund-raiser Wednesday for six of the Republican candidates running in targeted seats. Among them: Bill Berryhill, who is running for the 26th Assembly District seat being vacated by Greg Aghazarian, who is running for state Senate. The fund-raiser was at the San Diego Padres' baseball game. The Padres lost, but the candidates presumably came out way ahead.

We published a recent letter to the editor criticizing Congress in general, and Rep. Dennis Cardoza in particular, for taking the month of August off when the country faces so many daunting problems. In reality, most federal representatives take only a week or so of vacation and use the rest of the congressional recess to meet with constituents. According to their respective offices, our three congressmen have a lot of such meetings going on. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, has 40 meetings and appointments on his calendar in August; Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has about 30, and Cardoza, D-Merced, has about a dozen.

Neither Radanovich nor Cardoza has a race in November, but McNerney is being challenged by former Assembyman Dean Andal, and it's expected to be a contentious contest. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it was buying $2 million in TV ad time in California, to be divided between the McNerney- Andal race and the campaign between state Sen. Tom McClintock and Charlie Brown to replace U.S. Rep. John Doolittle. That means those of us who watch Sacramento stations should be prepared for a lot of political ads.

As Dan Walters explained in a column that we ran Thursday (still available at opinion/state/dan_walters), the title and summary statement describing a state proposition can have a big impact on its outcome. Opponents are pleased about the title chosen for Proposition 2 -- "Standards for confining farm animals. " The proponents had wanted to call it the "Prevention of Farm Cruelty Act." Opponents are referring to it as the "Unsafe Food Initiative." It seems to me the secretary of state chose an appropriately neutral title. The initiative affects the housing of chickens, hogs, and calves grown for veal; it doesn't have anything do with other aspects of their treatment.

If you're one of those folks who detests "robo-calls" -- the automated phone messages from politicians or their celebrity advocates -- then you may want to sign on to the National Political Do Not Contact Registry, available at In California, robo-calls are supposed to be illegal, but they're used all the time, regardless. The Public Utilities Commission only intervenes when someone complains, and, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News last week, the PUC has received only two complaints in the last two years about robo-calls.

OK, the presidential race will be the most important, but one of the more interesting elections will be in Patterson, where so far there are five prospective candidates for mayor and five more people who have taken out papers to run for two council seats.

Sly is the editor of The Bee's opinions pages. Contact her at 578-2317 or