Showdown and showtime
“[A] democratic government depends upon the informed and active participation of its citizens.” Along with being axiomatic, that happens to be part of the mission statement for the League of Women Voters of Butte County, and why the league hosts events to introduce candidates to the electorate.
Such a forum took place Monday night (May 19), when a full house at Chico City Council chambers witnessed opposing approaches to politics. Republican rivals Sue Horne and Dan Logue ratcheted up the tension in their high-strung race for the state Assembly, while John Jacobson and Jeff Morris—two of the three Democrats running to unseat Congressman Wally Herger—couldn’t have taken a higher road without suffering altitude sickness.
(The third candidate, Yuba City physician A.J. Sekhon, was absent. Winner of the 2006 primary, he has not commented publicly since the FBI visited his home and office last week. Moderator Carol Burr said Sekhon was on Army Reserve duty in Los Angeles, so ostensibly he wasn’t ducking tough questions.)
Morris, a Trinity County supervisor, has captured the fancy of local progressives such as Tom Nickell and Steve O’Bryan. It’s easy to see why: He conveys intelligence, dedication, empathy and a grasp of the issues. He’s confident that he’s ready for Washington—heck, he already knows where to find the congressional restroom.
Jacobson is a political newbie, without that backing or background. What he has is presence, honed by decades as a performer, speaker and director of large-scale musical productions.
Questioned about his credentials, he explained he runs his nationwide nonprofit—America Sings!—from Weed “because I can.” After an answer thin on specifics, he acknowledged the shortcoming and pledged to seek out people in the know rather than wait in his office for “people with checkbooks.”
Jacobson rallied the room with his closing statement, in which he declared it will take somebody larger than life to defeat a 22-year incumbent, somebody “a little out there” to whom “attention must be paid.”
If Morris had appeal envy, it didn’t show: He embraced his opponent/pal moments later.
Horne and Logue didn’t hug. They shook hands, perfunctorily, after their forum turned into a debate … not about an issue, since they see eye to eye on most everything, but about a campaign ad.
Logue decried a flier criticizing the Yuba County supervisor’s use of eminent domain on farmland claimed for a levee fortification. He name-checked political operative David Reade, called the ad a “smack in the face” and demanded an apology from his Nevada County counterpart. Horne, in turn, called for Logue to apologize to the family whose land got taken.
It was like Richard Nixon versus Condoleezza Rice— prickly everyman against polished all-businesswoman. Logue declared that if faced with the choice of raising taxes or legislative gridlock, he’d choose gridlock. Horne said she’d reach across the aisle to get things done but also stated that “I will not and have never compromised my conservative values.”
So who won and will win? Attendees who didn’t walk in wearing campaign buttons (half the crowd, perhaps) walked away expressing mixed opinions. The conclusion closest to consensus: The Dems have real contenders who sure are more pleasant to watch.