May 28, 2013

California Screaming

Hatched by Sachi

Few people realize how California's San Joaquin Valley (a.k.a. the "great central valley"), which used to be the breadbasket of the Golden State, has been devastated by one of the most inhuman federal rulings in the nation's history: In 2007, the aptly named Judge Oliver Wanger ruled that in order to protect the tiny Delta smelt, the California Aqueduct must be virtually shut down, causing severe water shortages throughout the southern two-thirds of the state... and especially ravaging the central-valley farmlands. It was a classic case of putting "pristine nature" ahead of mere human beings, with jobs and lives and families to support.

Only a tiny fraction of previously contracted water has been allowed to flow down from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into inland and Southern California. The judicially induced drought resulted in massive agricultural failure, which in turn produced sky-high umemployment, as much as 30% in some districts of the San Joaquin Valley.

Alas, there was nothing those south of Sacramento, the state's capital, could do; for voters had seen fit to install a veto-proof Democratic majority. But following last Tuesday's special election in the 16th state Senate District, an electoral earthquake may be at hand.

It's the first hint of a swing away from liberal monopoly (and eco-insanity), back towards the pluralism that had generally blessed California until the new millennium. For as the Wall Street Journal and other organs have reported, Republican Andy Vidak appears poised to defeat Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez for state senator.

This is a very big deal, and Democrats are starting to panic. The special election was caused by Democrat state Sen. Michael Rubio's unexpected resignation to take a high-paying job lobbying for Chevron. Despite his political party, Rubio has consistently advocated jobs for his constituency, hard hit by the environmentalist nightmare, over the liberal dream of an $80 to $100 billion high-speed railway running through California. (Do liberals expect it to take the place of air travel?)

Retread Gov. Jerry Brown touts the "railway to nowhere" as the savior of the debt-ridden Golden State -- presumably based upon the Obamunist argument that any government spending at all, no matter how useless, foolish, frivolous, or corrupt, is necessarily "stimulative." But Republican Vidak, and his Democrat predecessor Rubio, think it's more important to restore water to the parched central valley than to subsidize empty bullet trains -- or deify a fish the size of a pinky finger.

From the Journal:

Democrats were writing obituaries for California's GOP after winning a supermajority in the state legislature last November, thus gaining veto-proof power to raise taxes. But their legislative lock may have slipped after this week's special election in which Republican farmer Andy Vidak appears to have defeated a Democrat -- in a heavily Democratic senate district -- who had championed high-speed rail and a higher minimum wage.

A high-speed railway to nowhere, plus a higher minimum wage for the job you don't have; can't beat that! Except it appears that Vidak is about to do so. So who is Republican Andy Vidak, and why is he likely to win the runoff election against a Latina running in a heavily Democratic state-senate district with a 60% Hispanic population?

Local farmers and businesses recruited the 47-year-old Mr. Vidak, a third-generation Valley farmer who narrowly lost his challenge to Democratic Rep. Jim Costa in 2010, to run on the Republican ticket. The white, middle-aged man appeared to come straight from the California GOP's central casting, but Mr. Vidak is more salt-of-the-earth than many of his new compatriots in Sacramento.

Mr. Vidak is a farmer and local. He lives there and understand what the local farmers are going through. They want water back to their farms, not a useless railroad tearing through the farmland, wreaking further destruction of jobs and property.

Leticia Perez, however, is about as far from "local" or "salt of the earth" as one can be:

Notwithstanding her Hispanic heritage, Ms. Perez appeared out of touch with Valley voters' values and concerns. She raised twice as much money as Mr. Vidak, but 90% of her contributions came from outside the district.

She spent nearly all her campaign trying to persuade broke and desperate, out-of-work farmers that Brown's Boondoggle will be a golden ticket for the stricken San Joaquin Valley. (She even had to issue a public apology for a campaign flier that implied Perez had gained the endorsement of the Virgin of Guadalupe, last seen in Mexico in 1531.)

By contrast, Vidak focused his underfunded run on more immediate (and secular) relief:

"It's fish versus farmer," [Vidak] says, and liberals are siding with the fish.

Other species-protection policies have removed thousands of acres of land from production, endangering the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. Meanwhile, California's bullet train, beloved by liberals, will slash through Mr. Vidak's district and raze hundreds of farms, homes and businesses.

"We don't have clean drinking water in some areas of our district," Mr. Vidak says. "And they want to build an $80 billion bullet train!"

Vidak came close to winning outright; he needed 51% of the vote but got only 49.9%. However, he is 6% ahead of Supervisor Perez. The election isn't in the bag; if Perez can pick up every last Democratic and leftist vote, she could squeak into office... but one would have to say that the leader in a runoff is generally favored. The final election will be held July 23rd.

In a rational world, this would not be a Democrat versus Republican issue. The Old Left was as pro-growth, pro-job as Republicans were (and still are); the Labor-Left would unquestionably have sided with the farmers, not the fish!

Restoring flow to the California Aqueduct is a survival issue for California farmers, and indeed to anyone who likes to eat now and again. I hope Democratic voters in the great central valley understand that the Sacramento Democrats are not their friends; they are radicals who care more about raw political power, ruinous spending, and lunatic lefties with quasi-religious yearnings for Gaia Worldmother.

But I also hope that Republicans get it through their thick skulls that a liberal candidate with a Hispanic surname can still lose an election, even in a heavily Democrat-Hispanic district, if the candidate refuses to treat constituents as individual people with local problems -- and instead tramples them underfoot in the name of bigfoot Progressivism and "saving the world."

Hatched by Sachi on this day, May 28, 2013, at the time of 6:37 PM

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