Primary concerns

Democratic candidate is worried about June primary’s lack of appeal

Candidate Jim Reed is asking supporters to spread the word and get out the vote in June.

Candidate Jim Reed is asking supporters to spread the word and get out the vote in June.

Photo By tom gascoyne

Jim Reed, the lone Democratic candidate for the congressional seat Rep. Wally Herger is vacating at the end of the year, has concerns that he may not make the final cut after the votes are counted in the June 5 primary.

That is because there’s not much on the ballot to attract Democrats in this presidential election year. And if the GOP presidential nomination is still up in the air in three months, Republican voters are much more likely to vote. This year’s open primary sends the top two voter-getters, regardless of party affiliation, to face off in the November general election.

Standing next to the Chico Municipal Center’s Our Hands sculpture on Saturday, March 3, Reed told a gathering of about 40 supporters that if the election were held today, he thinks he’d receive more votes than any of his four Republican opponents.

“But it’s starting to look like by the time June 5 rolls around California still may be in play in the Republican presidential primary,” Reed said. “If that happens there will be a tremendous turnout of voters who are Republican because they are going to want to influence who the final [presidential] candidate is. Meanwhile, why should Democrats show up? There’s really nothing exciting on the ballot.”

Indeed. Besides picking candidates for the newly formed District 1 congressional seat and the Republican candidate for president, there are only two propositions on the ballot: Prop. 28 would lower the term limit for state legislative office from 14 to 12 years, and Prop. 29 would tax cigarettes to fund cancer research.

If Democrats stay home on June 5, Reed said, there’s a good chance state Sen. Doug LaMalfa and former state Sen. Sam Aanestad, both Republicans, will be the candidates in November. The other two Republican candidates are Pete Stiglich of Cottonwood, who lost to Herger in the primary two years ago, and Gregory Cheadle, a political novice from Happy Valley.

The redrawn district is made up of Butte, Shasta, Nevada, Siskiyou, Tehama, Lassen, Plumas, Modoc, Sierra and parts of Placer and Glenn counties.

Two years ago Reed lost to Herger in the general election, but received a respectable 43 percent of the vote. He said he thinks he can win the seat this time around, provided he makes it to the general election.

The district has changed, he said, but added that “it’s changed favorably.”

“When I ran against Wally Herger in 2010,” he said, “boy it was a rough year to have Democrat next to your name because the tea party was basically in control.”

Still, he pointed out, he was only 7 percentage votes shy of the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win. He said his campaign has analyzed the new district, and even though the number of registered Republicans is 12 percent higher than in the old district, 20 percent of the voters are registered as independent or decline to state.

Reed said he’s optimistic about the nation’s economy but there is still a long way to go, and it’s high time to fix the blame for the economic mess where it belongs: on Wall Street.

“The Occupy movement has really drawn attention to the fact that Wall Street got us into this mess,” he said. “And it really is a terrible mess. It’s obviously worse than anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression.”

The problem, he said, is that Wall Street has turned into the largest gambling casino in the world, with day traders investing not to support and help grow business, but rather looking to make a quick buck.

“That’s gambling if you’re just getting into the market for a very short time,” he said. “That’s bad because for every person who makes a little money on a gamble, there is somebody who loses money on a gamble, and guess who that is? It’s the small investors, it’s the middle class.”

Reed said he supports the idea of adding a half-a-percent tax on every stock trade, an idea being pushed by the union group National Nurses United, of which the California Nurses Association is part.

The problem with such a tax, he said, is that it would discourage those who invest in the market for reasons other than to make a quick financial killing. He said those who do leave their money in the market for a full year should get the tax on their investments back.

When asked about recent criticism lodged against LaMalfa by a fellow conservative on the matter of his Richvale family’s rice farm receiving $4.7 million in federal subsidies over the last 15 years, Reed was diplomatic.

“Look,” he said, “I’m not really going to pick on that issue at the moment because for one thing I understand that farm subsidies are something out there that are absolutely necessary.”

But then he added that if LaMalfa in future candidate debates pushes for smaller government and less spending, “then I think he has something to answer to about those subsidies. That’s where I could see it coming up.”