The last vestiges of the Bill Postmus Political Machine were vanquished in the June 5 primary election, with voters soundly rejecting five of his protégés who had sought office.
Postmus, who had taken the county by storm when at the age of 29 he was elected First District county supervisor in 2000 and then went on to bestride San Bernardino County as a political colossus as both the chairman of the board of supervisors and chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee before moving on to become county assessor, ultimately crashed and burned in a haze of drug use and political corruption. In January 2009, district attorney’s office investigators found methamphetamine and the hallucinogen ecstasy at his residence during the serving of a search warrant seeking evidence of his political exploitation of the assessor’s position. He resigned from office roughly a month later and in 2010 he was indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges relating to having sold his vote in 2006 to approve, in exchange for $100,000 in political contributions, a $102 million payout to a developer suing the county. The following year he pleaded guilty to 14 criminal charges contained in that indictment, including conspiracy, perjury, soliciting and accepting bribes, conflict of interest and acceding to extortion.
Despite his political fall, several of those who had launched their own political careers while serving in some capacity within Postmus’ political machine had carried on. Brad Mitzelfelt, who had been Postmus’ chief of staff when he was supervisor, was handpicked by Postmus to succeed him when he went on to become assessor. Mitzelfelt served five years as assessor before opting to run for Congress this year. In a field of 13 candidates in Tuesday’s primary, Mitzelfelt placed fifth, garnering 8,197 votes, or 11.56 percent of the total. He was well outdistanced by Paul Cook and Greg Imus, who captured 11,450 and 10,784 votes, or 16.15 percent and 15.21 percent, respectively. They will face each other in a runoff in November.
Also vying for Congress in the same 8th Congressional District primary on Tuesday was Anthony Adams, who was once one of Postmus’ field representatives when he was supervisor and who, with Postmus’ assistance, in 2006 was elected to the state Assembly, serving two terms in Sacramento before he opted not to run for reelection in 2010 following controversy that dogged him when in 2009 he voted to support then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2009-10 budget that raised taxes by $14 billion. On Tuesday, Adams ran a dismal ninth in the field of 13, garnering, 2,438 votes, or 3.44 percent.
Three other one-time Postmus team members – Robert Smith, Russ Blewett and Michael Orme – on Tuesday sought election to the First District supervisor’s post Postmus once held and which Mitzelfelt currently occupies. Smith, a former sheriff’s deputy who worked as a narcotics detective before retiring to take up staff positions working for Postmus when he was both supervisor and assessor, garnered 4,995 votes or 14.42 percent in the seven man race. Blewett, a longtime Postmus and Mitzelfelt supporter who is currently Hesperia’s mayor, managed to pull down 4,922 votes or 14.21 percent. Orme, who was a field representative to both Postmus and Mitzelfelt, garnered 2,821 votes or 8.14 percent.
All three were commandingly defeated by top vote-getters Robert Lovingood, who captured 7,377 votes or 21.3 percent and Rick Roelle, who polled 6,765 votes or 19.53 percent, as well as being surpassed by Bret Henry, who brought in 5,106 votes or 14.74 percent. Lovingood and Roelle will meet in a runoff in November.
Around the county in other significant state and federal match-ups in this year’s races featuring open primaries in which voters were allowed to cross party lines to vote their preferences, Joe Baca polled 11,866 votes or 46.78 percent to Gloria Negrete-McLeod’s 8,643 votes or 34.07 percent in the 35th congressional district, setting up a November runoff between the two Democrats; Gary Miller and Bob Dutton, Republicans both, captured first and second in the 31st Congressional District with 16,035 votes or 26.85 percent and 14,987 votes or 25.1 percent, respectively; Bill Emmerson outright defeated Melissa Ruth O’Donnell 42,461 votes or 64.26 percent to 23,614 or 35.74 percent in State Senatorial District 23; in State Assembly District 55 Curt Hagman trounced Gregg Fritchle 5,699 votes or 73.64 percent to 2,040 or 26.36 percent; Mike Morrell comfortably edged Russ Warner in State Assembly District 40 with 25,183 votes or 58.38 percent to 17,950 votes or 41.62 percent; incumbent Steve Knight shot past Star Moffatt in State Senate District 21 with 19,673 votes or 69.64 percent to 8,577 votes or 30.36 percent; in State Assembly District 33 Tim Donnelly narrowly avoided a runoff in November, capturing 23,908 votes or 52.13 percent to John Coffey’s 13,119 or 28.6 percent; in State Assembly District 47 Joe Baca, Jr. captured 10,189 or 41.91 percent and Cheryl Brown had 7,024 or 28.89 percent; Ken Coble outpolled Norma J Torres in State Assembly District 52 with 7,285 votes or 42.12 percent to 6,400 votes or 37 percent.
In all those races where a single candidate did not capture a simple majority of the vote or more, there will be a runoff in November between the two top finishers.
In the three-candidate contest for Third District supervisor, the incumbent Neil Derry was significantly outpolled by challenger James Ramos, setting up a November runoff. Derry captured 15,764 votes or 32.95 percent to Ramos’s 22,479 votes or 46.99 percent. Jim Bagley received 9,593 votes or 20.05 percent.
In the Fifth District county supervisor’s race, incumbent Josie Gonzales won outright with 12,747 votes or 62.93 percent to the 4,948 votes or 24.43 percent tallied by John Taack and 2,561 votes or 12.64 percent registered for Silvia Marroquin.
Results herein are the semi-official results provided by the registrar of voters as of noon June 7.