Who’s the tougher one?

Two Republican Assembly candidates who largely agree on the issues stake out their claims to conservative fortitude

A QUESTION OF STYLE<br>One of these two is likely to represent Butte County in the state Assembly. Sue Horne and Dan Logue are both bedrock conservatives, so the real contest between them is over who will be more effective.

One of these two is likely to represent Butte County in the state Assembly. Sue Horne and Dan Logue are both bedrock conservatives, so the real contest between them is over who will be more effective.

Photo By Robert Speer

Who’s in District 3?
Assembly District 3 includes Plumas, Lassen, Sierra, Nevada and Yuba counties, all of Butte County except Biggs, Gridley and Richvale, which are in District 2, and the northern one-fourth of Placer County, including Auburn.

Asked how he and his opponent differed, Dan Logue, one of the two Republicans running to replace Rick Keene in the state Assembly, laughed and said, “Well, she’s a lot prettier than I am.”

Indeed she is. Logue and his opponent for the District 3 seat, Sue Horne, couldn’t be less alike in appearance. Logue, a real estate broker from Marysville, is big and shambling, admits he’s not much to look at in a suit, and has a voice that sounds like gravel being poured. Horne, a former field representative for the late Assemblyman Bernie Richter who lives in Lake of the Pines, north of Auburn, is slender and stylish and talks like a civics teacher—though one with very strong opinions.

When it comes to politics, however, they could be twins, as was evident at a forum held May 1 in Oroville. Both are county supervisors—she in Nevada County, he in Yuba County—and both proudly proclaim themselves to be staunch conservatives. They agree down the line on such hot-button issues as raising taxes ("No way,” they say), illegal immigration ("Secure our borders!” read Logue’s campaign signs), environmental protection ("It’s killing business,” Horne insists), and global warming ("We need more science,” Logue states).

In an apparent attempt to capitalize on his rough-hewn masculinity, Logue touts his “toughness” on his campaign literature, insisting he’s “tough enough to shrink bloated budgets,” “tough enough to kill tax hikes,” and “tough enough to stop wasting tax dollars on illegal immigrants.”

Horne, in contrast, touts her ability to work with people—she’s a past president of the Regional Council of Rural Counties—but also asserts, Hillary like, that she will “fight to eliminate bloated state bureaucracy” and is determined to “break the power of the unions” that she says control state government.

The Third District is heavily Republican, so whoever wins the June 3 primary is expected to defeat Magalia union official Mickey Harrington, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The lunchtime Oroville forum, held in a meeting room at Feather Falls Casino, was sponsored by the Oroville Chamber of Commerce and moderated by a local Republican women’s group. Most of the 40 or so people at the event seemed to share the candidates’ views, so questions had almost as much political spin as the candidates’ answers. ("What is the worst example of waste, fraud and abuse in education spending?” was fairly typical.)

On illegal immigration, which Logue has made the cornerstone of his campaign, both candidates spoke only of securing the borders. “If we don’t enforce the law,” Horne asked, “how can we expect people to respect the law?” Unmentioned was the illegality of employers hiring undocumented workers. Also ignored was the fact that 60 percent of the people in this country illegally didn’t sneak across a border, but rather came here on legal visas and simply overstayed.

In later phone conversations, both candidates endorsed a more comprehensive approach, including establishment of a guest-worker program. Horne also supports cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers, but Logue believes providing guest workers would make that unnecessary. He also wants to follow Arizona’s example of making it highly difficult for people without papers to obtain services.

On the state budget, which Gov. Schwarzenegger now says is a full $20 billion in the hole, both candidates are adamant that it must be balanced without raising taxes. Horne is convinced that, if the budget were “open and accountable,” she would be able to “burrow in and find the fat,” especially in the education budget, where she said billions of dollars that could be going to kids are staying in Sacramento.

“It’s not a matter of not enough money flowing into the state,” she said. “It’s a matter of reckless spending year after year.” She blames the teachers’ union for blocking reforms, saying it is “resistant to change” and that “we need to break that power.”

Logue said the governor should declare a fiscal emergency, suspend mandates such as Prop. 98, which directs 40 percent of funding to education, and balance the budget. He also supports a constitutional amendment limiting annual budget increases to the inflation rate.

Both candidates are opposed to AB 32, the governor’s climate change initative, because it’s bad for business. “The AB 32 rules are going to distort the economy of California,” Horne said.

And they were skeptical that the planet was actually warming. “We need to have more science, more facts before we jump of that bridge,” Logue said. Horne: “People have drunk the Kool-Aid when it comes to carbon dioxide.”

The candidates were asked what they knew about the needs of Butte County, the largest in the district. Horne talked about the importance of retaining groundwater rights, the Oroville Dam relicensing process and “fighting for rural sheriffs’ funding.” Logue said he would make sure the county’s voice was heard in Sacramento.

Both candidates have received numerous endorsements. Horne has gotten more, but Logue has gotten Keene’s backing, as well as that of state Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley), whose district slightly overlaps Assembly District 3.

In a phone conversation, Keene said he knows and likes both candidates but is backing Logue because he’s “a better fit for the district … a little more solid.” The two men have worked together on a Yuba County levee issue, and he knows Logue to be “very progressive in representing the region in terms of economic development.”

Logue said that, while “Sue is a very nice person, when it comes to pressure on her from the left, she caves in. … She can’t handle the heat.”

Horne’s response is that for two years she was the lone conservative on her Board of Supervisors, but she “successfully stood firm against a very liberal agenda.” And when the board gained a 3-2 conservative majority in 2004, “the first thing I did was replace a very liberal-spending CEO with a fiscally conservative CEO. This move has resulted, in a large way, in the present solid financial position of the county of Nevada.”

She notes that 25 county supervisors and 15 state legislators have endorsed her, including Sen. Dave Cox, whose District 1 includes five of the seven counties in Assembly District 3. “They have worked with me for seven-plus years through my leadership on the Regional Council of Rural Counties. They know how tough I am.”

Horne has a funding edge. As of the last reporting deadline, March 24, she had $289,527 in her war chest, compared to Logue’s $219,593. She also out-raised him in the last reporting period (Jan. 1 to March 17, 2008), $58,069 to $12,532. Horne has lent her campaign $100,000, while Logue has given his an equal amount.