Tale of two assemblymen

They are both conservative Republicans representing conservative districts where their chances of being replaced by Democrats are non-existent. They both voted against the recently passed state budget, protesting that there were not enough spending cuts and taxes were masqueraded as fees. And they both represent parts of Butte County.

But Rick Keene, R-Chico, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, are two very different legislators. LaMalfa has no political history to speak of, while Keene has been groomed from the start, beginning with a spot on the Chico Planning Commission, which led to election to the City Council and then to the Assembly. In 2006 look for him to run to replace Rep. Wally Herger, who we believe will retire after one more term.

While Keene’s main allegiance is to his political ambitions, rice farmer LaMalfa is more of a Mr. Smith goes to Washington politician who truly represents his district. He’s already had a piece of legislation passed and signed by the governor—a law aimed to benefit the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department. Keene’s had no legislation passed or signed. The only legislation we know of to which his name is attached was actually written by two Chico City Councilmembers.

But perhaps most telling about Keene’s and LaMalfa’s respective ambitions is the amount of money each has raised for re-election before they’ve even reached the mid-term point in the office. LaMalfa, as of June 30, had raised just over $50,000. In the same period, Keene collected a staggering $104,000 in a district where he is practically assured of re-election. With his ambition providing the energy, Keene is a money machine who will funnel that currency to local like-minded candidates and further entrench his position as the Northstate’s golden boy of conservative politics.

We suspect, unless he catches the bug of political ambition or is influenced by his chief of staff, David Reade, LaMalfa will return to rice farming when he is termed out.