Tuesday’s election centers on one issue: Oil

June 21, 2010

It probably wasn’t supposed to be this way, but analysts are suggesting that Tuesday’s special election to fill Abel Maldonado’s state Senate seat is coming down to one key issue: Offshore oil drilling and which candidate comes across with the bigger environmental heart. [Sacramento Bee]

Part of the explanation lies in the public clamor over the British Petroleum mess in the Gulf of Mexico, an issue that especially resonates with a state Senate district that has so much extensive coastline in its boundaries.

“This has become a referendum on offshore oil drilling, and it wasn’t supposed to be that,”  said Larry Gerston of San Jose State University.  “The oil spill is a disaster beyond belief. But it is also the greatest gift to John Laird. It’s probably worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to him.”

Laird, former mayor of Santa Cruz, is the Democrat running against Republican Sam Blakeslee. Jim Fitzgerald is running as an Independent and Mark Hinkle is the Libertarian candidate.

The Democratic Party is spending close to $650,000 to support Laird, with another $107,000 being kicked in by labor unions. Their goal is to paint Blakeslee as a former oil company shill who still is under their influence.

Blakeslee has fought back hard, thanks partially to $1 million in donations from JobsPAC, inspired by the California Chamber of Commerce.

The San Luis Obispo Republican said Laird is simplifying a record he believes is “moderate” and for renewable energy. Blakeslee says he has authored two renewable energy bills and cast the only GOP Assembly vote to support a 2008 resolution against President George W. Bush lifting a federal moratorium on offshore drilling in some areas.

If none of the candidates get 50 percent of the vote, plus one, on Tuesday, the top two candidates advance to a runoff election on Aug. 17.



  1. EricWooten says:

    Former oilman Sam Blakeslee and his allies outspent the Laird campaign by more than $1 million. That’s quite a reward for Assemblyman Blakeslee, who authored a bill to authorize new offshore oil drilling and used tax dollars to promote it. Get all the facts at http://www.blamesam.org.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. Zuke says:

    I’m disgusted by Laird’s fraudulent tactic at painting Blakeslee as an ex-Exxon Executive and a shill for all oil companies. Blakeslee earned a Masters in Geophysics from UC Berkeley, a PhD from UCSB, and worked as a GEOLOGIST & then a middle-manager in production research @ Exxon – not a Director, VP, President, CIO, CFO, CEO or any other sort of executive officer. He quit when he could no longer support their business strategies and came back to SLO to run Blakeslee & Blakeslee Financial Services.

    I saw my 1st Laird-sponsored negative ad (with him speaking at the end) the very day after the Jun 8th elections – way to keep it positive. He’s clearly desperate since he doesn’t have a good track record after chairing the Assembly Budget Committee and the Special Session Committee on Budget Process…

    Blakeslee was on Congalton last week and didn’t say a single negative thing about Laird, only positives about himself and his record, unlike when Laird came on the next day and slammed Blakeslee every chance he got and didn’t have much to say for his own accomplishments other than he has the endorsements of numerous newspapers from northern California (though none from SLO County)… whoopee.

    (-2) 8 Total Votes - 3 up - 5 down
  3. racket says:

    The Laird camp is MAKING the election center on oil.

    Probably because that’s all they got. Their guy doesn’t poll well on any of the other issues, so they are working double-time to keep the race about oil.

    (-3) 13 Total Votes - 5 up - 8 down
  4. rogerfreberg says:

    Sometimes, I wish there was a third choice… someone that I could believe would help get this state back on the right track … and I wish I heard either of these candidates talk about that. Obviously, talking about bringing in revenue that isn’t associated with higher or new taxes isn’t very popular in Sacramento … but I do think someone should talk fairly fast before everyone who ‘creates’ jobs and income leaves the state.

    If ‘oil’ is the big issue of this election, then we are in real trouble.

    Good luck to us all.

    (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down

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