While the county’s Republican Central Committee divides the ranks of shrinking local Republicans with its “my way or the highway” approach, as I’ve written before, the Democratic Central Committee is quietly making headway in a county with a slim majority of Republican voters.
The latest example: Terry Lamphier’s upset of John Spencer for District 3 Supervisor in Grass Valley. John is the most conservative politician on the already conservative board, and the favorite of many “far right” Republicans.
The supposed “powers that be” in Grass Valley supported John, not Terry. In fact, some of them loath Terry politically — back to the days of the “anti-growth” initiatives and his position on the city planning commission. Now he’s their supervisor!
The county’s Democratic Central Committee was instrumental in Terry’s victory: It endorsed Terry’s campaign, made a donation and provided help. It helped organize his visit to 3,000 homes, an ambitious effort.
The Central Committee is the same group that helped carry the county for Obama and Charlie Brown in 2008. Tom McClintock barely beat Brown in the districtwide Congressional race.
The Union and KNCO — criticized for right-leaning bias — aren’t “moving the needle” as much as in the past — if at all. Yubanet and KVMR are gaining some “mo-jo.”
Right-wing bloggers Russ Steele and George Rebane were outspoken in their support for John Spencer over Lamphier, but it didn’t matter either. They couldn’t even vote in the race.
The “young Republicans” here — led by people such as Aaron Klein and some members of the county Contractors Association — weren’t persuasive to voters, either.
County voter demographics are changing, and new channels of communication are providing independent voices to the “old guard” media — something that happened in the “big cities” years ago.
Still, the Democratic Committee faces challenges. The turnout from registered Republicans was 48 percent (or 11,812) in our county for last week’s election, compared with only 40 percent (8,303) for Democrats — a deficit that should energize the “Donkey” party.
“My reading of the low turn-out is: No real contests at the top of the Democratic ticket; lack of information on the voter’s end; lack of awareness of how close our registration actually is to the Republicans in this county, and therefore, that their vote will make a difference; and lack of volunteer interest. We have work to do before November,” Margaret Joehnck of the Nevada County Democrats commented here the other day.
The county’s Republican Central Committee made a spectacle of itself in the June election, with its chairman actively supporting Barry Pruett in the county clerk-recorder’s race, while slinging mud at incumbent Greg Diaz in last-minute emails.
It occurred even though two well-liked Republican supervisors — Nate Beason and Ted Owens — had openly endorsed Diaz. How’s that for consensus building among the ranks of GOP?
Throughout the foothills, GOP Central Committees are pressuring conservative boards of supervisors to become, well, more conservative, according to my sources. But it is failing: Placer County went “left” in last week’s elections, and our county traded its most conservative supervisor for its most liberal one. Whoops!
The stakes are higher in November: Jerry Brown is running for governor against Meg Whitman, and an initiative is on the ballot to unwind AB32, the “global warming” act. Some Grass Valley city council seats are up for grabs too.
We are at a major “inflection” point in local politics, and it seems to be the best-kept media secret in town.