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.