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Election Countdown

With the registrar predicting a dismal 20 to 22 percent turnout in next Tuesday's special election, the seven campaigns are doing all they can to make sure their people remember to vote. Ron Smith, campaign wizard for supe candidate John Redding, is reusing a clever mail-in ploy that worked well for San Jose City Councilwoman Pat Dando a couple years ago. The tactic allows the Redding campaign to track their voters who send in absentee ballot applications and remind them to vote. But some of the other campaigns have gotten wise to the strategy. As soon as the Redding campaign drops off the ballot applications with the registrar, the other campaigns check the names and then contact the applicants and try to dissuade them from voting for Redding. Frank DeSafey, Redding's campaign manager, says he's not worried about losing many votes to the absentee highjackers. . . . Campaign themes: Steve Blanton--experience and an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell. Keith Honda--a single father with experience. Rosemary Kamei--a woman with experience. Don Gage--a conservative Neanderthal with experience. Tom Kruse--no experience. ("I am not a career politician, nor do I want to be.") GE exec John Redding--no experience. ("The only major candidate who is not a career politician.") Software engineer Linh Dao--fiscal responsibility. "With a combination of an Asian and an engineer, believe me, [I am] tight," she told the Almaden Valley Community Association. . . . Eye hopes Honda gets his money's worth for his four-color, eight-page campaign brochure done by Richie Ross. The glitzy puff piece, complete with smiling kids and the Statue of Liberty, reminds Eye of the "Morning in America" ads Ronald Reagan ran more than a decade ago. (Memo to Richie: Next time, don't wait until the next-to-the-last page of the campaign piece to mention the candidate's name.)


Loyal Ties

Senior Democrats in the state Legislature, some of whom already promised their support to Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, apparently met with zillionaire and possible gubernatorial candidate Alfred A. Checchi (gesundheit!) last week. Demos went in as skeptics, but supposedly came away impressed with Checchi, who's not only a Democrat, but an obscenely rich one at that. Checchi was reportedly asked whether he felt any loyalty to his Northwest Airlines partner, Richard Blum, whose wife, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is also expected to run for governor. Checchi's rumored response: "I've made Richard Blum a lot of money; he should be loyal to me." . . . Demos solidly behind Davis include San Mateo Rep. Tom Lantos. Lantos sent out an early-inning fundraising letter for Davis three weeks before Prop. 208 (which caps individual contributions at $250) took effect Jan. 1. Art Lynch, secretary to the Peninsula Democratic Coalition, opines that Lantos' early endorsement works to head off other potential candidates like ex-presidential chief of staff Leon Panetta by showing that Davis has strong support from influential party members. According to Lantos' money-grubbing missive, Davis has already pocketed $3.5 million worth of "strong support." Considering none of the other Demo hopefuls raised any money before Prop. 208 went into effect, that $3.5 million is nothing to sneeze at.


Thank God

People went nuts earlier this year when new Los Gatos Town Councilman Jan Hutchins refused to recite the standard Pledge of Allegiance verbatim. But Eye finds it remarkable that no one has questioned Santa Clara and San Jose's quaint practice of opening their city council meetings with a prayer. What about separation of church and state? "We'd have an easier time banning the Pledge than the prayer," chuckles former Santa Clara Mayor Eddie Souza. "We're just saying, 'Help us through this meeting' because we have a terrible time doing it." The prayers are ostensibly nondenominational, but at a recent Santa Clara council meeting one confused audience member turned to Eye following the invocation and said, "I'm Jewish." ... Meanwhile, glad-hander Pete "Primo" McHugh, former Milpitas mayor, was officially sworn in as county supervisor last week. Among the well-wishers present were new Milpitas Mayor Henry Manayan, Sheriff Chuck Gillingham and San Jose Vice Mayor Margie Fernandes. Also present was a priest who prayed for divine political guidance for Primo. ... Eye couldn't help but notice that McHugh's affair lacked the glitz and the fur coats present at Supervisor Joe Simitian's swearing-in ceremony the previous week. One familiar South Bay political operative observed, "That's because this is a swearing-in ceremony, not a coronation."


Teed-off

Once again this week the parliamentary chaos at the Santa Clara City Council meeting forced even the city attorney to consult Roberts Rules of Order for guidance. The previous week, the council spent more than two hours discussing parliamentary procedure and, incidentally, whether to preserve or develop the city's last remaining 40 acres of untouched open space at the old Fairway Glen Golf Course. That meeting fittingly concluded on an absurd note when Councilwoman Patricia Mahan cast the deciding vote to preserve all 40 acres after having just explained why doing so would be fiscally irresponsible. This week Mahan, a lawyer, made a puzzling motion to reconsider the previous week's vote, while promising not to change anything. She won her bid not to change anything, but the motion to reconsider failed. ... One taxpayer is so teed-off about the golf course vote he's threatened he'll force a referendum. His name is Dan Texera, a retired contractor, a former planning commissioner, a one-time councilmember and, incidentally, a past consultant to Interland, the developer that's already built 600-plus apartments on the golf course. Twenty years ago, Texera convinced the city to buy Fairway Glen from his friend Wally Stephens, ironically, so the city could prevent it from being developed. Texera has his work cut out for him; he's got to collect nearly 5,000 signatures from registered city voters by Feb. 21 to force the issue onto the ballot.


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From the January 30 - February 5, 1997 issue of Metro

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