Russ Jumps In To Make Troika Opposing Lovingood A Concerted Quartet

Hesperia Councilman Paul Russ has joined his council colleague, Hesperia Mayor Bill Holland, in an electoral challenge of First District San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood.
Lovingood, who owns an employment agency, was elected to his current position in 2012, succeeding former supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt.
In November 2012 Lovingood prevailed in a run-off against Rick Roelle, with with 38,640 votes or 51.22 percent to Roelle’s 36,798 votes or 48.78 percent. That runoff was necessitated when the two were the top vote-getters in the June 2012 primary in which neither captured a majority of the vote, but outpolled then-Hesperia Mayor Russ Blewett, San Bernardino County Fire Department Captain Bret Henry, congressional office staffer Michael Orme, supervisorial district staffer Bob Smith and then-Adelanto School District Board Member and later Adelanto City Councilman Jermaine Wright, who were also vying in the race.
Lovingood this year has so far attracted four challengers – Roelle, a former Apple Valley mayor and council member; Roelle’s wife, former Victorville Councilwoman Angela Valles; and Russ and Holland. The electoral competition between Roelle and his wife is an extremely rare phenomenon. Only slightly less rare are the combined candidacies of Russ and Holland, given that they are running from the same base, i.e., the Hesperia City Council. There is, the Sentinel has learned, a “gentlemens’ agreement” among Valles, Holland, Russ and Roelle to conduct their campaigns not against one another but against Lovingood. The filing period for the board position does not close until March 11.
The Victorville Daily Press, the widest circulating newspaper in the High Desert, conducted a week-long poll of its readers last month with regard to potential voter support of those known to be interested in running for First District supervisor.
Russ’s strong showing in that survey, done online, was a major factor in his decision to actually enter the race. He did not take out candidacy papers until this week.
In the non-scientific poll which started on February 22, Russ pulled down the support of 39.13 percent of those responding, eclipsing Lovingood, who carried 33.82 percent. Valles claimed 16.67 percent, Roelle collected 6.71 percent and Holland garnered 3.67 percent. The poll registered 2,862 total votes cast.
While the entry of the quartet of challengers into the race could portend another runoff in this year’s November balloting, requiring Lovingood to again wage a longer campaign, the larger field of candidates may ultimately and paradoxically redound to his advantage. As an incumbent, Lovingood is likely to be able to bring in substantial campaign contributions, which will in any event favor him. Assuming he polls a sufficient number of votes to place no lower than second in June, he will very likely have a significant advantage over whoever his November opponent will be, as that opponent, already at a fundraising disadvantage, will have seen his or her electioneering fund depleted before the runoff contest begins.
In addition, the Sentinel has learned, Lovingood has already staked a claim to the endorsements of two of his board colleagues, supervisors James Ramos and Janice Rutherford. Rutherford has even, the Sentinel is informed, rebuked a member of supervisor Curt Hagman’s staff for expressing approval of Russ’s contemplated run against Lovingood.

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