The Logue effect

Assemblyman’s brief entry into the Senate race ripples outward

Jim Nielsen

Jim Nielsen

The race for the 4th Senate District could have been a cakewalk for Republicans, but lately it’s looked more like a mosh pit fueled with party infighting, questionable political maneuvering and persistent questions about candidate Jim Nielsen’s residency in the district he’s running to represent.

The race is closely tied to Wally Herger’s decision to relinquish the leech-like grip he’s held on his congressional seat for a quarter-century and anoint state Sen. Doug LaMalfa as his replacement. After finishing first in field of eight in the June primary, LaMalfa resigned his Senate seat on Aug. 31.

Shortly thereafter Nielsen—who had already announced he wouldn’t seek reelection as the 2nd District assemblyman—announced his bid for LaMalfa’s old position. LaMalfa claimed the timing of his resignation was to save taxpayers the cost of a special election, but some politicos believe it was to give Nielsen a boost by not allowing other candidates time to rally a campaign.

Either way, it didn’t exactly work, and five other candidates joined the race, including Mickey Harrington, Dan Levine and Jann Reed. Ben Emery joined and dropped out, though his name will still appear on the ballot.

Jann Reed

But the most surprising candidate to throw his hat in the ring was fellow Republican Dan Logue, who was also up for reelection to the 3rd Assembly District seat, running against Democrat Charles Rouse.

Logue thus was in two races at once, but not for long. He dropped out of the Senate race earlier this month, citing health concerns, though he is still seeking reelection to the Assembly.

Then there’s the ongoing question of Nielsen’s residence. He owns two homes—one in Woodland, outside the district, the other a double-wide trailer in the tiny Tehama County town of Gerber. Critics say he maintains the latter solely to remain eligible in the district, and has never actually lived there.

The issue first came up during his 2008 bid for Assembly, and was eventually resolved—or at least stuck in a drawer somewhere—when then-state Attorney General and now-Gov. Jerry Brown, without really looking at the case, declared there was no evidence to warrant further investigation.

In contrast, at least two politicians in Southern California face multiple felony charges for faking their residences.

Dan Logue

“The guy is still a crook, he has no integrity, he’s a coward, and he still lives in Woodland,” Rancho Tehama political activist Don Bird said recently. Bird has spent the last several years protesting against Nielsen, even promising to place him under citizen’s arrest on felony fraud charges for lying about his address to serve in public office. Nielsen got a restraining order against Bird a year ago that prohibits him from entering Nielsen’s Gerber property for the next three years.

Nielsen’s campaign signs say he is “Conservative Rancher.” When asked what kind of ranch a double-wide trailer in Gerber can support, Cliff Wagner, Logue’s chief of staff, said, “I know. I married a woman from Gerber, and all it takes to have a ranch there are three feral chickens.”

Harrington, a Democrat from Magalia, is a labor council president and resident of Magalia who has unsuccessfully run for Assembly three times. His closest bid was in 2008, when he polled 44.4 percent of the vote but lost to Logue.

Levine, the youngest candidate, is a 27-year-old rancher and Chico State University graduate student whose campaign slogan is, “Bringing Freedom, Prosperity, Justice & Honesty Back to California District 4!” On his Facebook page—his main campaign vehicle—he displays a fondness for using capital letters and deep concern about protecting patients’ rights to medical marijuana. Levine is not affiliated with a political party.

Reed is a former clinical laboratory scientist who has served as a trustee and president of the Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees. Also unaffiliated with a party, she addresses the Herger-La Malfa-Nielsen Republican legacy in a candidate statement at her Website ( “Why me? Why now? It’s because Californians deserve better than handpicked successors by departing politicians. If we continue to elect the same politicians to represent us, we will never fix California’s broken political process.”

Charles Rouse

In the District 3 Assembly race, Logue is challenged by Rouse, a Corning olive farmer and retired rural postman. Rouse worked on Democrat Jim Reed’s congressional campaign two years ago and has been a political activist for some time, but this is his first bid for public office.

In a recent CN&R interview, Rouse said education and water rights are on his list of priorities. He also said of Logue’s “Jobs, not taxes” slogan, “I’m not exactly sure what that means. Are you?”

Logue’s supporters appreciate his efforts to educate the public on what he says are the state’s innumerable anti-business regulations. Foes cite his creation of 2010’s unsuccessful 2010 Proposition 23 to overturn the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act as one reason among many to oppose him.

In the June primary, Logue came in first with 41 percent of the vote, Rouse second with 33 percent, and Corning-area rancher Bob Williams third with 25 percent.

Jim Ledgerwood, the Butte County Republican Assembly vice president, had called for an investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission of a $20,000 donation Nielsen made to Williams’ campaign designed to force Logue to draw down his campaign warchest in response.

As it turned out, it wasn’t money that forced Logue out of the Senate race; it was injured kidneys.