Dead Heat So Far Between Congresswoman, Assemblyman In Race For Supervisor

(August 19) In what is one of the more closely watched San Bernardino County races in the upcoming November election, state senator Curt Hagman is expressing confidence in his chances against Congresswoman Gloria Negret-McLeod as they vie to descend from their lofty state and federal elected positions to assume the post of Fourth District San Bernardino County Supervisor.
More often, it is county office holders who seek to ascend to Sacramento or Washington, D.C., rather than the other way around.
Hagman, a Republican and former Chino Hills mayor, is nearing the end of his third term in the Assembly. California’s term limits prevent him from returning to the state’s lower house. Negrete-McLeod is nearing the end of her first term in Congress, having previously served as the president of the Chaffey College Board of Trustees, in the Assembly and the California Senate. She vaulted into the Congressional seat she now holds in 2012, defeating incumbent Democratic Congressman Joe Baca with the assistance of more than $3 million provided to her by former Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political action committee.
Many political observers find Negrete-McLeod’s readiness to voluntarily give up her role in Congress remarkable, given that the strength of her incumbency and the favorable Democratic registration numbers in California’s 35th Congressional District make her virtually unassailable there.
Rather, Negrete-McLeod has said she longs to return to local politics, where she says she believes she can have a greater impact on the constituents she represents.
The match-up is an interesting one.  64,446 or 40.9% of the Fourth District’s 157,503 voters are registered as Democrats.  50,519 or 32.1% of the Fourth District’s voters are registered as Republicans. This would appear to give Negrete-McLoed an advantage. Nevertheless, for the past sixteen years, the Fourth District position has been held by Republicans – Fred Aguiar, his wife Patty, who succeeded him when he departed to Sacramento serve in the administration of then-Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar and since 2004, Gary Ovitt. Republicans in California in general and San Berardino County in particular evince greater voter turnout than do Democrats on a percentage-wise basis in terms of their registration numbers. And in this year’s June primary in which Negret-McLeod and Hagman captured the top two spots to qualify for the November run-off against each other, Negrete-McLeod eked out a razor-thin victory over Hagman. With 24,276 votes cast district-wide, Negrete-McLeod claimed 10,180 or 41.93 percent. Hagman trailed her by 198 votes, polling 9,982, or 41.12 percent. But the other Democrat in the race, Paul Vincent Avila, pulled down just 1,801 votes or 7.42 percent. The other Republican, James Na, received 2,313 votes, or 9.53 percent.  Thus, the Republicans in the race edged out the Democrats 50.65 percent to 49.35 percent.
Negrete-McLeod possesses considerable financial resources in her electioneering war chest, but there are federal and state regulations that make transferring money from an account to fund a federal election campaign to an account for a local political campaign difficult. Hagman has the advantage of being the current chairman of the San Bernardino County Central Committee, which gives him influence if not outright control over how Republican Party money will be spend in local races.
Two months after the primary, Hagman sounded confident.
“The registration numbers do favor the Democrats, yes,” Hagman told the Sentinel.”But this is supposed to be a non-partisan race. We may pull more Democratic votes than people think. There should be a few surprise endorsements for me in the next week or two. We have bipartisan support. I feel we have a strong message that is not aimed just at Republicans but will appeal to all.  All the handicapping I have seen says this is going to be extremely close. We did very well in the primary. We started out ten percentage points below Gloria. She outspent us four to one. But we beat her on the issues. I expect her to spend over $1 million [dollars] but we should win in November.”
Hagman continued, “I believe that on public safety she has a horrible track record that is not going to help her. She voted for AB 109.”
Assembly Bill 109 was legislation passed in 2011 that was authored after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to redress its overcrowded prison problem, citing constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. That court order required that the state cut its then-current inmate population in its 33 prisons to 137.5% of capacity by May 2013. To achieve that end, Assembly Bill 109 mandated that  30,000 state prison inmates convicted of non-violent crimes be transferred to county jails over a three-year period.
Hagman further maintained, “She voted to raise taxes. That hurt the local economy. I am  supporting local business and the Ontario Airport being returned to local control.”
Hagman, 48, referenced his age differential with the 73-year-old Negrete-McLeod. “I bring an energy to the campaign and to the board of supervisors she cannot provide.”
Hagman elaborated, “The Fourth District in San Bernardino County represents a different approach. This is a place where people work hard to make their own way and grow the economy.  What I have to say represents the core message of the Republican Party, which is consistent with the way people approach life here in the Fourth District, Republican or Democrat. Her message for the county is to grow government instead of the economy and she is absolutely pro union. I hope to be able to debate her before this campaign is over so people can see the differences between us.  She is working for bigger government.  I believe that if we make the private sector stronger, that shores up the public sector.  We have to think outside of the box. We need to invite investment from outside the county. She has been against small business and big business and has been pro union all her life. I want people to compare our voting records.”
Negrete-McLeod said she would encourage the district’s voters to consider the votes she has cast throughout her career, in both houses of the state legislature and in Congress and compare them with Hagman’s performance in the Assembly.
“If you examine them closely, and compare and contrast, you will see who is the real people’s candidate,” she said.
She dismissed Hagman’s criticisms of her prison realignment votes as overblown political rhetoric.  “He was in the assembly during that time,” Negrete-McLeod said. “Did he not realize that our state and our governor had to let those prisoners go? Did he not realize we were under an order from the court and that a three-judge panel said we had to release those prisoners to relieve overcrowding? What does he not understand about that?  Hasn’t he read in the newspapers and seen the statistics that crime has gone down or is that something I have to call him to tell him? Those were hard choices but in the legislature you have to make hard votes.   Sometimes those votes are not popular but they are part of the job.”

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