Monday, December 26, 2011

Republicans Look To Take Over Control of County

The “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” slogan may soon take on an altogether new meaning. How weird would it be if one of the most liberal counties in California and hence the free world, wound up being governed by a Board of Supervisors, the majority of whom were Republicans?

On June 6th 2012, a little over five months from now, there is a chance that local residents could wake up to learn that control of Santa Cruz County’s chief governing body would pass to the conservatives beginning in 2013. That’s because on June 5th, 2012, during the Presidential primary election, three of the five seats on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will be contested. If any candidate gets 50% + 1 vote they will ascend to the BoS without having to stand in the general election in November.

Republicans, in this County and beyond, think they have good reason to be excited about the opportunity to reshape the Board - and Santa Cruz County. See: Republican opportunities are rising dramatically in Santa Cruz County with two prominent Republicans running for open supervisorial seats at

The granddaddy of county conservatives, and probably the most polished GOP politico to ever come out of Santa Cruz, 68 year old, Bruce McPherson, surprised many by announcing a run for the BoS from the 5th District. (By virtue of redistricting McPherson’s Pasatiempo home has become part of the predominately San Lorenzo Valley District.)

In District 2 there are two candidates with solid Republican credentials, current County of Education Board member Vic Marani and Gina Locatelli. Marani was elected to the County Board of Education in 2008, after serving earlier on the Pajaro Valley School Board. He had been working as an aide to Republican State Senator Sam Blakeslee until leaving to run for supervisor. He is also the former chair of the County Republican Party.

In District 1, no one from the right has yet stepped up to run against incumbent John Leopold but there’s still time for a conservative challenger to emerge. Dene Bustichi is apparently being courted and someone could still move into the district and become eligible before the filing deadline.

Conventional wisdom argues that with six announced candidates in District 5 and four so far in District 2, the chances of any one candidate reaching the 50% +1 threshold is slim and that we will be having a November 12 runoff between the top two vote getters. But consider this: the June primary, typically sees a low turnout and this year will draw a higher percentage of Republican voters because they have a contested Presidential race. Furthermore, while nominally a non-partisan race, Republicans, smelling an opportunity and having a least two party loyalists running, could turn the race into the most expensive Board of Supervisors contest in Santa Cruz County history.

If progressives fight among themselves through the Spring they could divide and exhaust their donor base and make it difficult to reorganize behind one candidate in the Fall.

It has the potential to turn into a “perfect storm” scenario. Weird.


write in Jason said...

How and why is it that Pasatiempo became part of district 5?

JC said...

The district's were realigned following the 2010 census and as a result Pasatiempo became a part of the 5th District and the part of Scotts Valley south/east of Hwy 17 was moved to the first district.

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