Thursday, November 8, 2012
County Supervisor Lou Calcagno looks more at home on his Moss Landing dairy farm than at My Attic, a swanky new bar on Alvarado Street in Monterey. But he fit right in at fellow Supervisor Dave Potter’s election-night party, where there was a long list of local dignitaries.
Also on the guest list: Assemblyman-elect Mark Stone, State Senator-elect Bill Monning, Monterey County Business Council President Mary Ann Leffel, Monterey County Farm Bureau Director Norm Groot plus agribusiness power couple Rick and Tonya Antle.
It’s no surprise that four-term incumbents Potter and Fernando Armenta have deep reserves of establishment supporters; each was left holding onto their seats by seemingly healthy margins as of early Wednesday morning (the Weekly’s deadline), after long and costly campaigns.
Potter’s challenger, former county supervisor and attorney Marc Del Piero, summed up Potter’s guest list with a single cutting sentence: “It’s all people who expect to get something from government for free.”
Del Piero set up shop in the Monterey Peninsula Airport restaurant Golden Tee, where he was joined by some 40 volunteers, including a bizarre mesh of Republicans and open-space advocates.
Each party poured free wine and dished free snacks (cheeses and meats at Potter’s, fried calamari and crudite at Del Piero’s), and each event felt more like a regular party than an election event – since they were short on victory or concession speeches.
Even after vote-by-mail results showed Potter leading with 52 percent of the vote, and campaign manager Plasha Will let out a “Halle-fuckin’-lujah” before high-fiving her colleagues, Potter said, “I never take anything for granted.”
He didn’t deliver a speech, but was still in a celebratory mood. “I’d feel fine if I was at the landfill,” Potter said. “I was born to have a good time.”
Del Piero dismissed speechmaking as “pompous,” adding, “This is supposed to be a party.”
In June, Del Piero narrowly won the primary election (by just five votes) in a three-way race against Dave Potter and ousted Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia. “I walked in knowing the odds against me were huge,” Del Piero says.
Thanks to the North Salinas Valley Fund for Responsible Growth bankrolling about half his campaign, Del Piero ran hard against Potter in a race that totaled over $500,000 in donations.
District 1 in urban Salinas is, by comparison, a low-budget race, where Armenta outspent Salinas City Councilman Tony Barrera by more than 10 to one with his $200,000 campaign. While Barrera closed the gap he faced in the June primary immensely, by Wednesday morning Armenta was ahead 54 percent to 46 percent.
Their festivities were quieter than the raucous Peninsula parties, with Barrera watching the results from his East Salinas living room, and Armenta absorbing the information in an undisclosed location.
“I usually go off as soon as the polls close and spiritually meditate for an hour,” Armenta said.
With less than half of the county’s precincts reporting, Registrar of Voters Linda Tulett wouldn’t call either election Tuesday night.
For Chris Fitz, a board member of both LandWatch Monterey County and the North Salinas Valley Fund (and Del Piero’s candidate for chief of staff), the next few days are the most excruciating part of the entire election cycle. “This is the worst part of politics, this waiting – it’s terrible,” he said.