Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Blogs and Races

First of all, before I get started I would like to tip my hat to Glenn Reynolds, for those of you who don't know who that is, there is a link to his site on the right here. He is the creator of Instapundit and recently, it has been decided, been awarded the status of "expert" in his field by the New York Times. And I would like to say SHAME to Walmart, not because they have strange dealings with China for cheap goods or even that they do not provide healthcare for their workers. The reason I am upset with Walmart is because they actually trust bloggers and have started what could turn into a horrible trend of "sponsored" bloggs where the freedom that this internet dealy gave individuals, like myself, to freely express what they feel will be hindered by where the money is coming from. When individuals start getting paid to mouth off their minds here from specific companies, that destroys the blogg's and the blogger's impartiality. Can you imagine a world where the net is filled with sponsored bloggers? Just cramming the information superhighway with Starbucks bloggs or McDonalds bloggs?

Anyway, I need to point out how disappointed I am with one of our California Congressmen. To begin, there have been a lot of interesting facts coming out about him already in this campaign in the 51st district. Mr. Filner has given over half a million dollars to his wife as a "campaign strategist, though it isn't a registered business and apparently a lot of this was when he was running unopposed. As part of California's community property law, half of what Filner's wife makes will technically also be his, so in a way he is paying himself $250,000. Some of Congressman Filner's responses as to why this is "totally ok" make some sense but others, like she "only has to answer to the candidate" are preposterous.

There have also been an article or two talking about his opponent for the congressional seat, California Assemblyman Juan Vargas, and his paying of a family member and keeping him at his house. But Vargas only paid his brother-in-law 1k a month. If he worked, let's say 8 hours, 5 days a week (which anyone who has ever worked on a campaign is a ridiculously low amount of time) that would be 1k dollars for 160 hours, equaling $6.25 an hour, and this is not taking into account the fact that he probably worked weekends and nights as well as any full time staffer on a political campaign can tell you. So it is not just a monetary difference, it is common practice to have campaign workers stay at the house of the candidate to save money on expenses and to get the most out of the work day because the candidates' house is sometimes the campaign center as well. Some of the campaigns I have seen have had upwards around 10-15 people living in one house as an almost campaign factory.

What is really interesting is the fact that negative adds have already come out. In most statewide and local campaigns, negative adds come out about 10-15 days before the election based on the fact that there is little money to keep up that type of campaign for too long. Presidential Campaigns traditionally start about 20 days before the primary and 40 days before the election for partially similar reasons, but also because they do not want the candidate to look like too much of a bully too early. Filner ran a TV add against Vargas about 100 days before the election. This is unheard of. The short segment was listing off three reasons why not to vote for vargas and had a decent picture of him scrolling across the screen. It was a sucky negative add; completely uneffective. But it is still amazing that Filner started this early. Even if you take into account that for the last election, 2004, Filner was able to raise $812,402 unapposed (besides a libertarian candidate, but they don't really count yet) and Vargas was only able to raise $90,202.12 for his Assembly race while being apposed (this information can be found on the CalAccess site) which is about 9% of Filner's total, it is still rediculious to start with this type of campaign this early just based on how the public could react to it.

Even the race between State Sen. Richard Mountjoy, who was previously retired, and Dianne Feinstein, who is California's most popular elected official according to most polls, hasn't started too much mudslinging, but then again, the primary hasn't even ended yet. What makes the Filner-Vargas campaign so interesting is that, so far as I have seen, it is the only campaign where a legitimate democratic candidate is looking to unseat annother democrat.

Vargas has made two previous attempts at this seat, once as a "wet behind the ears" lawyer who, after losing to Filner the first time won a city council seat and then, then next voting cycle, Vargas again made a vie for it, and, once losing again, gained a State Assembly seat. This is the third time Vargas is going for it and the timing of it centers arround California State Assembly term limits.

Both times that he went against Filner, Filner went dirty and quick, but not this quick. There has been a long standing rivalry between them because of the politics. This race is one to keep your eye on because it will definately get interesting.

Other issues to keep in mind with this race; the word "bajagua" will be coming up a lot; it is regarding a sewage project in Tijuana, Mexico where many shady practices have been noticed involving many public officials including Filner.

If Assemblyman Vargas won he would be the first Latino and the first man who was born in the district to represent it in the 100 years that it has been in existance. Just, FYI.

(ok, so you know, when I wrote this I was working on Juan Vargas' campaign.)

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