Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Political Notebook: No TV in 5th Assembly race and other quick hits as Election Day nears

A few tidbits and quick hits as Election Day closes in:

The 5th Assembly District sprawls across all or parts of nine counties in the western Sierra foothills, across the highest peaks and over to the Nevada border.

There’s tons of square miles, and no real big cities.

So how does a candidate reach voters? Not by television, it seems, at least not during the general election.

Calaveras County businessman Rico Oller and Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow are passing up TV in favor of radio, lots of radio, as well as mailers, to get their message to voters.

“TV for that district is nearly impossible,” said said political analyst Tony Quinn, a former GOP legislative aide and co-editor of California Target Book, a nonpartisan analysis of legislative and congressional races.

The main TV markets are Fresno and Sacramento — or even Reno — but they only cover parts of the district. It’s not much bang for the buck, Quinn said.

Both Oller and Bigelow have purchased radio spots on stations in Bishop, Sonora, Fresno, Modesto, Merced, Jackson, Mammoth Lakes and Stateline and Reno in neighboring Nevada.

It’s hard to get all seven Fresno City Council members to agree on much of anything, but it appears they’ve come together on State Center Community College District trustee Richard Caglia.

Lee Brand, Andreas Borgeas, Blong Xiong, Larry Westerlund, Sal Quintero, Oliver Baines and Clint Olivier have all endorsed Caglia for reelection over challenger Kevin Hall in District 7 on the State Center board.

A few weeks ago Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian not only announced her endorsement of Jim Patterson over Bob Whalen in the 23rd Assembly District race, she also sent her constituents a letter urging them to support the former Fresno mayor as well.

Now, we know how much that cost.

Patterson’s latest campaign finance report shows Poochigian spent $3,635.52 on postage, envelopes and letters.

Otto Lee, the Bay Area Democrat who is challenging incumbent Republican Devin Nunes in the 22nd Congressional District, is now a Clovis resident.
Lee, a lawyer and former City Council member and mayor of Sunnyvale, had lived in the Bay Area during the primary. But this week his campaign said he was a Clovis resident.

Fresno County elections officials confirmed Lee changed his voter registration from Sunnyvale to a Clovis apartment in June.

Political Notebook: Big money political interests again weigh in on Bigelow-Oller Assembly race

It’s seems there’s a lot of wealthy groups and individuals in California who really want Madera County Republican Frank Bigelow to win the 5th Assembly District seat. Or, just as likely, they want Calaveras County Republican Rico Oller to lose.

Or both.

Leading up to the June primary, a group called the Mother Lode Taxpayers Association Political Action Committee For Bigelow Assembly 2012 was formed, and then raised $235,000 to support Bigelow and oppose Oller.

Almost all the cash came from the California Dental Association Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee and the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee.

The November general election has now brought an even bigger boost for Bigelow.

It is another independent expenditure, this time from the California Senior Advocates League. The group has raised more than $1.7 million this year, of which it appears more than $300,000 went to support Bigelow and, mostly, to oppose Oller.

The group has weighed in on several state Assembly and Senate races around the state in addition to Bigelow-Oller, as well as giving money to a few other organizations such as the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association.

As with the primary election Mother Lode IE, the California Dental Association is a huge contributor to the California Senior Advocates League, as is Republican Charles Munger Jr.

Munger has garnered a huge amount of publicity because he’s contributed millions to defeat Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30, and to support Proposition 32, an initiative that would limit the political clout of unions in California.

A group called Reform California Now has also contributed close to $1 million to California Senior Advocates League.

Among the contributors to Reform California Now are the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee, California Farm Bureau, Chevron Corp. and Philip Morris USA.

It appears a good part of the cash in the Bigelow-Oller race is going toward radio advertisements, though mailers have also been purchased.