Republicans at war

In the North State two distinct camps have emerged to fight over the spoils

There’s a war going on these days among Republican politicos in Northern California, and I’m pleased to say that the CN&R is playing its part (more on that below). The conflict has gotten so bad that some Republicans are vowing not to vote for Doug LaMalfa for Congress and even—hold your breath—thinking of voting for Democrat Jim Reed!

The North State is Republican territory, and two distinct cadres of Republican politicians are fighting over the spoils. The major figures in one of them are current (but retiring) Rep. Wally Herger; the man he picked to replace him, state Sen. Doug LaMalfa; and the man LaMalfa favors to take his seat in the state Senate, former Assemblyman Jim Nielsen.

Members of the other camp include former state Sen. Sam Aanestad, who lost to LaMalfa in the congressional primary; Assemblyman Dan Logue, who is running against Nielsen for LaMalfa’s Senate seat; and ultra-conservative Rep. Tom McClintock, their ideological lodestar.

The latter group thinks the former is corrupt and a disgrace to the Republican Party. It cites, among many other sins, Herger’s growing rich while in office and Nielsen’s long history of financial conflicts of interest and his lying about his residence in the district. LaMalfa is faulted for his hypocritical acceptance of millions of dollars in rice subsidies, his fake website attacking Aanestad, and for hobnobbing with “liberal” Republicans.

You can get the full picture from that by reading Aaron Park’s blog. Park is a longtime officer in the California Republican Assembly, and his blog is widely read in Republican circles.

He contacted me recently asking about an exposé the CN&R did in 1990, when Nielsen was up for re-election to the state Senate. The piece, an exhaustive investigation by then-Editor George Thurlow, revealed the myriad ways Nielsen had used his position to benefit financially. It also revealed a previous instance of falsely claiming residence inside the district.

In an email, Park was thunderstruck: “OH MY! This is UNBELIEVABLE… WHY ISN’T THIS MORE WIDELY KNOWN???” Park’s since been featuring the information on his blog.

In the meantime, he’s been calling on his fellow Republicans not to vote for LaMalfa. “Doug LaMalfa by his actions and choices has forfeited the right to any Republican support,” he writes.

Banging on gangs: Chico public defender Ron Reed, who is known in Tanzania as “Father Water” for his work providing clean water, has a new project: a 50-minute film titled Lagrimas de mi madre, which means “tears of my mother.”

It’s a collection of interviews with a wide range of local people affected by gangs: the gangsters themselves, former gangsters now out of prison, Chico police officers, probation officers and the mother of a gangster. It’s not a slick film, but it’s tremendously affecting and should be required viewing in local schools.

There will be a free showing Sunday, Oct. 7, at 4 p.m. in the El Rey Theatre. A panel discussion will follow the screening. For anyone concerned about gangs—and we all should be concerned—this is a must-attend event.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.