Mike Dunbar

Ted Howze’s plan to go after soon-to-be Josh Harder’s 10 Congressional seat in works

Some people were downright giddy over Jeff Denham’s loss to Josh Harder in the 10th Congressional District race. We’re thinking of Ted Howze, a Republican.

All the votes haven’t yet been counted, but Howze is already sending out requests for meetings with influential people – usually a prelude to a campaign-donation pitch.

Oh, and Howze is attacking one of the region’s most popular elected leaders over being, well, insufficiently Republican.

Last week, Kristin Olsen wrote an op-ed for one of our media partners, CalMatters, explaining her dismay over Donald Trump’s capture of the Republican Party. She called for charting a new course in California – which took guts for a former Assembly minority leader. She wrote that California needs political balance, and Trumpian Republicans can’t provide it.

Smart Republicans paid heed. Howze not so much.

He wrote a rebuttal, longing for a tighter Trump hug and insulting the last Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also said Olsen “looks foolish,” noting the number of Republicans elected around here – including all five Stanislaus supervisors. Huh?

Olsen is one of those supervisors. It’s a “non-partisan” office, so casual voters don’t even know party affiliations. And three of those supervisors are well known for getting results by working across any aisle.

Maybe his unfamiliarity is due to not living around here. Howze lives in Stockton. The former Turlock city councilman moved there, apparently, because he wanted a seat in Congress but figured it would be easier to win in the 11th District than in the 10th against Denham. True. Howze challenged Denham from the right last June, but Denham more than doubled his vote.

That’s a bit unfair. Many believed Howze was lured into the race as a spoiler. With five Democrats splitting votes, they thought a second Republican might knock out the “D” leader.

Ridiculous, Howze told Bee reporter Garth Stapley. But that $20,000 gift from the Denham campaign in August sure came in handy.

Having attacked Denham in May, he’s attacking Olsen now, accusing her of being willing to settle for the “crumbs of power.”

Crumbs? Is that what he calls Olsen’s push for transparency in passing laws and budgets? Or her efforts for more water storage? Or her role in ending the “negative bailout” that cost Stanislaus County $40 million?

Crumbs? Perhaps he’s thinking of his own vote totals. Howze got 17,723 votes in June. The last time Olsen ran for Assembly, she got 63,003.

Josh Harder won’t even be sworn in until Jan. 3, but Howze is already planning to displace him in 2020. Might give him enough time to move back to the district.

SINGING ALONG – A couple of weeks before the election, Assemblyman Adam Gray was at a Merced bar with friends when he saw a guy in a blue suit, cowboy hat and guitar. “Who’s that guy?” he asked. “That’s your opponent” Justin Quigley, came the answer. Quigley was soon playing some vintage tunes – the kind Gray likes – and gave Gray a shout-out from the stage. Gray invited him to have a beer.

“We had a drink while we discussed politics, music and life in general,” wrote Quigley on Facebook. “Having now met him, I have nothing bad to say about Mr. Gray.” He should put that to music, and teach a few thousand politicians to sing along.

Mike Dunbar is editor of The Bee’s opinion pages. 209-578-2325