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[whitespace] Decision 2000

State Races

U.S. Senate

In the race for United States Senate, incumbent Dianne Feinstein faces Emeryville attorney Michael Schmier in the Democratic primary, while the Republican primary features six candidates: South Bay Congressman Tom Campbell, La Jolla businessman J.P. Gough, San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, Fremont high-tech entrepreneur Linh Dao, Stockton salesman John Brown, and state Sen. Ray Haynes of Newport Beach.

Unless the sky falls in and the apocalypse cometh, Feinstein will wipe out Schmier. So the question for the primary is, who is the best Republican candidate?

We know who is the worst.

Sen. Haynes supports a flat tax and a national sales tax, opposes affirmative action, opposes a woman's reproductive freedom of choice, supports the three- strikes law, opposes restrictions on handgun licensing and purchase, opposes same-sex marriage, supports public subsidies for private schools. It's a wonderful far-right mix. We'll pass.

Horn lists only three issues on his website: Bill's National Defense Platform, Firearms, and Bill's Agriculture Platform. Unfortunately, clicking on those links reveals that the URL's can't be found. A candidate who can't manage three links on a website can hardly be trusted to legislate the affairs of the nation.

And that leaves us with Tom Campbell.

If nothing else, Tom makes life interesting. He voted to impeach Bill Clinton, but also voted against the re-election of Newt Gingrich as Speaker. He supports a national sales tax and wants to cut the capital gains tax, both conservative positions, but also supports freedom of choice in abortion. He is against affirmative action, but opposes discrimination against gays (including opposing the Knight initiative). If you're a Democrat, you have to hope Campbell loses, since he would clearly be the stronger challenger for Feinstein.

Recommendation: Feinstein

15th Congressional District

Democratic Party leaders think that recapturing this seat--being vacated by Republican Tom Campbell--is crucial to winning back control of the House of Representatives, which Republicans now control with a razor-thin six-vote majority.

The establishment choice, Mike Honda, finally agreed to run after getting a call from President Clinton and assurances from party leaders and labor that they would back him in the primary.

At one point last fall, party operatives were encouraging former Sunnyvale Mayor Robin Parker, a middle manager at Hewlett-Packard, to run. Later, Parker says, those same people tried to dissuade her when Honda became the flavor of the month.

Portola Valley venture capitalist Bill Peacock, who has loaned $500,000 of his own money to his campaign, promotes himself as an independent who is not taking money from PACs--an easy commitment from a millionaire.

Also on the ballot are Dick Lane, who mounted a futile challenge to Campbell two years ago, and perennial candidate Connor Vlakancic.

We are most impressed by Peacock, who has the best credentials for federal office. A military officer who served in Vietnam, Peacock was Assistant Secretary of the Army under President Jimmy Carter.

Honda and Parker have a decent grasp of local and state government, but are fuzzy about Congress. Neither could correctly identify the current Speaker of the House (Dennis Hastert). Peacock did--and named Hastert's four predecessors for good measure.

On the Republican side, Assemblyman Jim Cunneen of Cupertino is the odds-on favorite over Dale Mead. Natural Law Party candidate Doug Gorney and Libertarian Ed Wimmers round out the field.

Recommendation: Peacock

17th Congressional District

Voters in the 17th Congressional District have a lot to choose from. There's Green Party candidate E. Craig Coffin, Libertarian Rick S. Garrett, and Reform Party Candidate Larry Fenton. Republican Rob Roberts of Salinas is pro-choice, yet supports pro-lifer Allan Keyes for president.

Democrat and high school history teacher Debra Whitmore is giving her students an admirable lesson in getting involved in electoral politics, although we see little in her platform to distinguish her from the pack. Art Dunn, a registered Democrat, supports Lyndon LaRouche for president. ('Nuff said.) Republicans Carole Dooley and Clint Engler and Natural Law candidate Scott R. Hartley didn't return our calls.

But the electoral buzz has been dominated by feisty Democrat Joe Grossman, who's been burning up the fax lines accusing incumbent Sam Farr of false endorsement claims, neglecting the clean-up at Fort Ord, ignoring the needs of the strikers at Basic Vegetable in King City, and casting pro-WTO and NAFTA votes.

Most of that is true, although Grossman himself has also been too quick to accuse. He once claimed, falsely, that Farr had been denied the AFL-CIO endorsement, when Farr had actually gotten labor's endorsement contingent on a later meeting over the Basic Vegetable matter. After the meeting, the AFL-CIO confirmed the Farr endorsement.

And Grossman has also been less than candid, refusing to answer a simple question about who he planned to support for president in the primary.

Farr has an exemplary record on the environment, and with the organized labor endorsement and some education about Basic Vegetable, his labor record is also solid.

We do have misgivings about Farr. We believe he was wrong to support NAFTA and the WTO, and he has been aloof from his constituents during the primary campaign.

Grossman is well-meaning, but he tends to shoot from the hip. While he is right on many issues, that is not enough in our opinion to turn out an effective incumbent.

Recommendation: Farr

15th State Senate District

The only partisan race in this district is between two Monterey County Democrats, Katrina M. Ognyanovich and Anselmo A. Chavez. On the Republican side, incumbent Bruce McPherson is unopposed. There is also a Natural Law Party candidate, David Rosenkranz, and a Libertarian, Gordon Sachtjen, on the ballot.

This is a slam dunk.

Recommendation: McPherson

27th Assembly District

Boulder Creek Democratic incumbent Fred Keeley is unopposed in the primary. There are three other names on the ballot, all of whom are also unopposed in their parties--Monterey Republican Charles Carter, Natural Law Party member Madeline De Joly and Libertarian David Bonino. The only thing interesting about this election is that it will likely mirror the result in November.

Recommendation: Keeley

28th Assembly District (Watsonville)

The Democratic race for the 28th Assembly District is split between two Latino candidates. Sandra Pizarro, a self-described fiscal moderate, is backed by the Latino Legislative Caucus and a long list of state legislators, as well as Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. Her Sacramento support stems from her years in the California Assembly Budget Office.

Monterey County Supervisor Simon Salinas is supported by state Sen. John Vasconcellos and has as strong support in the southern part of the district.

Pizarro talks tough on crime and supports Prop. 21, the juvenile crime initiative. Salinas takes a softer stance on crime and is the only candidate in this race who has mentioned health care as a priority.

Both candidates pay fealty to this year's dominant issue: education.

Pizarro has never held elected office. Salinas has worked his way up from city council and has shown his dedication to public service.

There are two Republicans vying for the seat, attorney Laura Perry and Jeff Denham, who manages a farm produce transport company.

The Liberty Caucus, a group of right-wing Republican lawmakers, has identified this race as a make-or-break one for the conservative wing of the party. Denham is their guy, although he tries to play down their support. He's also backed by state Sen. Pete Knight, of the Knight initiative.

Laura Perry is pro-choice, supports increases in spending on education infrastructure and teachers' salaries and wants to see the district's southern agricultural land preserved. She is also a community college trustee.

Recommendation: Salinas and Perry


Election 2000 Introduction

Local Races

Local Measures, Propositions

Useful Voter Information, Ready Reference Endorsements


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From the February 23-March 1, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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