Thursday, November 2, 2006
With the November election less than a week away, local Democrats and Republicans are calling each other racists, liars and thieves.
The racism charge stems from a mailer touting state Sen. Jeff Denham’s education platform, which Salinas Valley voters received last month. The ad was funded by the Monterey County Republican Party, and its look is intentionally childish: The text and accompanying drawings mimic kids’ schoolwork, and it reads as if written by a young girl. All of the people in the booklet are drawn with happy white faces—a girl, her mom, a teacher, a nurse—except for a child molester, who is depicted with brown-shaded skin.
Vinz Koller, chair of the Monterey County Democratic Party, says he’s received half a dozen calls from voters who said they were offended.
“We think that it shows that the local Republican Party is trying to use the race card to scare voters,” he says. “It shows good people are white, and the only person of color in the mailer is a child molester.”
The brown man in the mailer peers out from behind a chain-link fence. Underneath the drawing, it reads: “I found out Senator Jeff Denham made this law—is that a rule?—that says bad guys who do mean things to kids can’t live close to our schools.”
Denham’s SB 723, signed into law last year, prohibits the state from placing sex offenders near schools after they are released from mental health treatment.
Democrat Wiley Nickel, who is challenging Denham for the 12th District Senate seat, says he has talked to Republicans who say they won’t vote for Denham because of the mailer. He also takes the opportunity to make political hay.
“We’re just trying to talk about my positive vision,” he says. “If you like the chronic budget deficit and high cost of health care, then vote for Denham. If you want someone who is willing to change the way Sacramento works, then I’m your candidate.”
When asked about the mailer, Brandon Gesicki, political director for the Monterey County Republican Party, took full responsibility for the mailer, which, he said, “is definitely not racist.”
“Senator Denham did not OK this and did not see this,” Gesicki said, “but again, we defend the piece. If somebody was offended by it, the Republican party apologizes.”
In an e-mailed statement, Denham says Democrats are playing dirty politics: “This is a despicable attack from Wiley Nickel and his ultra-liberal cronies. This race-baiting smear by a desperate candidate reflects the politics of personal destruction at its worst.”
But wait, it does get worse.
On Sunday, Oct. 29, the Monterey County Republican Party issued a press release accusing Mayor Anna Caballero’s campaign team of stealing Ignacio Velazquez yard signs. Velazquez, a Republican, is running against Caballero for the state Assembly’s 28th District seat.
According to Gesicki, a videotape obtained by the county Republican Party shows “clear proof of the Caballero teams’ criminal acts.
“It’s one thing to break the law and steal Mr. Velazquez’s campaign signs, but it is truly an act of dumb thieves to leave the evidence in their campaign office in plain view,” he says.
The video shows allegedly stolen Velazquez signs inside the Democratic headquarters in Oldtown Salinas. Caballero shares office space with the local Dems.
When told about the video on Monday, Oct. 30, Caballero campaign manager Rick Rivas accused Republicans of “breaking and entering,” and said he was going to file a police report.
Later that afternoon he told the Weekly Salinas police had visited the campaign office. “Things were stolen from the office—150 Caballero lawn signs,” he said, “We’re missing some voter lists. It’s sick, it’s pathetic and it’s desperate.”
|THE WEEKLY TALLY||30,907||
The number of marijuana plants seized in Monterey County in 2006, placing the county 17th in the state. Statewide a record 1,675,681 plants have been seized, with 80 percent pulled from public lands. Source: California Department of Justice.