Anyone who believes Tuesday’s election is “just” a primary and not worth the effort should rethink that position. For people living in Stanislaus County, Tuesday’s vote could be of far greater consequence than the one in November.
Stanislaus County voters will elect a sheriff, either Jeff Dirkse or Juan Alanis. The race is incredibly close, with thousands of signs, plenty of awkward accusations, candidate forums and finger pointing. Hundreds of people have endorsed the candidates. But we’re not sure all those endorsements have actually helped.
Sheriff Adam Christianson is retiring after three terms, but with the problems his department has encountered over the past 12 years it’s hard to know if his endorsement of Dirkse actually helped. There are people on both ends of the spectrum who don’t like the sheriff’s record.
Throw in The Bee’s endorsement – which is used by some voters as a signal to vote exactly the opposite – and Dirkse might have suffered a double whammy.
Alanis didn’t help himself by posing for a photo with David A. Clarke, the radically right-wing sheriff of Milwaukee. Voters on the left who yearn for a “people’s sheriff” will be sorely disappointed if Alanis embraces any of the policies or positions of Clarke. The darling of the Trump administration came to Modesto at the behest of the Stanislaus Republican Central Committee – which endorsed Alanis over Dirkse. Just as many see The Bee’s support as always wrong, others feel that anyone embraced by the Republican Central Committee will not stand up for them.
Nationwide, many say this year’s elections are a referendum on the Trump administration. What’s that got to do with local candidates? If voters are truly angry with the status quo, they might be looking to dismiss anyone currently in office. Or anyone known to be sympathetic to the Trump agenda.
How will we know?
If any Democrat gets 25 percent of the vote in Congressional District 10, that’s huge. If any two Democrats combined get 40 percent, that should send shivers down incumbent Jeff Denham’s spine. Looked at another way, if Denham doesn’t poll 43 percent, he’s in trouble.
Up in CA-4, if Republican Tom McClintock polls anything less than 50 percent of the reliably red district, then he’s in trouble, too.
Many are saying this is the year of the woman. We’re not convinced. But if incumbent county supervisor Terry Withrow is forced into a runoff – presumably with Katherine Borges – then there might be something to it.
But what about District 4, where Janice Keating, Frank Damrell III and Tom Berryhill are on the ballot? There’s no incumbent to be angry with, so there’s no obvious protest vote. It’s a toss-up, and we’re guessing two of these candidates will go at it again in November.
Some races are finished because there’s only one candidate. Congratulations to Don Gaekle, who has done an admirable job as County Assessor. Kashmir K. Gill will be our Auditor-Controller. Donna Linder is the only person running for Clerk/Recorder and Donna Riley is unopposed for Treasurer Tax Collector.
No one is opposed to Adam Gray in the 21st Assembly district, but that doesn’t mean he’s home free. There’s still an opportunity for an opponent to get on the ballot before November.
On election night, around 9:30 p.m., Opinion Page Editor Mike Dunbar and Editor Brian Clark will livestream a conversation about the election on Facebook. We’ll be glad to hear your questions and we’re hoping a few knowledgeable people will join us for the discussion.
There will be lots to talk over. Why? Because this election is important. Be sure you vote.