You won’t see the local media collaborating on this one, but there are some eerie similarities in the political races that pit challengers Barry Pruett and Casey Tanner against incumbents for supposedly nonpartisan posts in Nevada and Placer counties.
Some longtime politicos in both counties see this as an attempt by the GOP, largely the “far right” wing, to wield more influence in local politics. They see it as a vestige of the “Doolittle political machine,” whose successor is also the very conservative Tom McClintock. Tom is trying to establish more of a foothold in Nevada County, where he lost to challenger Charlie Brown.
In the case of Pruett and Tanner:
•Both are using the same bulk postage permit out of Roseville — No. 833 — for negative mailers against the incumbents, I confirmed on Friday. (You see, I have friends in both counties who’ve received the mailers). The bulk permit is held by the printer. Just a happy coincidence? You can decide.
Tanner is running against incumbent Kathy Martinis in Placer County for county auditor, while Pruett is running against Gregory Diaz for clerk-recorder. Both are decidedly nonpartisan posts, with incumbents who are highly experienced in their jobs.
•Sierra College Trustee Aaron Klein, of all people, is endorsing both Pruett and Tanner, as I reported previously. Details are here. Aaron concedes that he has never met or does not know Martinis or Diaz, but he is endorsing the opponent anyway. He’s a big GOPer.
As for experience, Tanner received his certified public accountant license less than a year ago. His license’s “G” designation means he can’t sign audit reports yet.
As for Aaron, he is free to endorse whomever he wants, but I’d stick to my knitting if I were a Sierra College Trustee, with all that’s going on at the school. To me, it shows he has further political aspirations, though he has downplayed that in the past.
•Both Pruett and Tanner are endorsed by GOPers, including ones who lean to the “far right.” The Republican Party of Placer County has endorsed Tanner. The Nevada County Republican Council has endorsed Pruett.
•The people work directly with the incumbents typically are supporting them. For example, Supervisor and Board Chairman Nate Beason, a Republican, is endorsing Diaz. All five Placer County supervisors are endorsing Martinis.
Longtime politicos whom I’ve talked to in both counties believe this is an effort by “far right” Republicans to wield more political influence around here, as well as try to groom a generation of new GOP leaders.
Many of them look up to our Congressman Tom McClintock, a hard-line Republican. (Pruett’s spouse, Kim, is a McClintock staffer). This schism has upset many moderate Republicans, who really see the posts as nonpartisan. They also worry about discouraging qualified candidates from not running because of small-town politics.
I should also point out that just writing about this has made me a target of some venomous personal attacks, though I’m not running for any office.
Many of the anonymous derogatory comments directed toward me on the Internet focus on my observations about the Pruett-Diaz race, Klein’s involvement, as well as the local media’s reluctance to “dig deeper” on any of the races. It also focuses on my criticism of very conservative bloggers Russ Steele and George Rebane, who are the local cheerleaders for the “far right.”
As I’ve said before, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” What if I tried to write a column like this for The Union under its current management?
The outcome of both races in neighboring counties is being closely watched by political pundits who seem them as far more than just a race for auditor or clerk-recorder.