As they have for years, the Nevada County League of Women Voters has announced a series of candidate forums to help inform the public about the June 3 election, as reported previously. March 20, 2014 — State Assembly District 1 and U.S House of Representatives District 1; March 27, 2014 — Nevada County Board of Supervisors, Districts 3 & 4; April 3, 2014 — Superior Court Judge; April 10, 2014 — District Attorney and any other contested race for county offices. All forums will be held from 7-9 p.m. in the Supervisors Chambers at the County Adminstrative Office at the Rood Center at 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.
But that’s not good enough for local tea partiers, who are hosting their own “Nevada County Tea Party Candidate’s Forum” — another tangible sign of the political polarization in our community that is influenced by vocal hard-right politics (albeit it only a minority of the electorate).
One-time “anointed” clerk-recorder Fran Freedle, who has been active in the California Federation of Republican Women, is sending around the emails as a “tea party leader” on her HotMail account. To me, the Nevada County Federation of Republican Women and Nevada County Tea Party have practically morphed — a political travesty since GOPers come in different stripes. It offers real insight to the hard-right bent of our local Republican political groups, which has alienated some GOP moderates.
The Tea Party Candidate Forum is planned for Wednesday, February 26 at 6:30, in Ponderosa Hall at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. It includes an opening statement, moderated Q&A and closing statements. Participants include the five candidates in the County supervisor races in District 3 and 4.
A second Tea Party Candidate’s forum is planned for Wednesday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m., at the Fairgrounds for Superintendent of Schools, Sheriff, Assessor, DA, Clerk-Recorder and so on.
I’ve never been comfortable with this forum. Despite its claim of “nonpartisanship,” the tea party supports hard-right candidates. Duh. I also imagine it is uncomfortable for candidates who don’t support the tea party, but they feel obliged to participate for fear of political repercussions. At the same time, it’s a comfortable crowd for the staunchly conservative candidates, such as Dan Miller and Hank Weston. The bright red T-shirts tend to tip off the crowd.
In 2010, Elaine Meckler, who sent out the email inviting candidates to a “meet the candidate” forum sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots/The Union/KNCO, was actually listed on clerk-recorder candidate Barry Pruett’s website as one of his endorsers — a farce.
The League of Women Voters Forums are a longer series, so I view them as more comprehensive — and nonpartisan. Rooted in the movement that secured the right to vote for women, the League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed participation in government.
In the past, The Union and KNCO have lent legitimacy to the Tea Party Forums, hanging their banners and acting as moderators. Two years ago, the then-publisher of The Union, Jeff Ackerman, was a moderator.