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Tim Myers: Does Facebook fury transfer to ballot victory?

Myers' Musings

Posted: May 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.

June 5 constitutes an interesting primary election in the Santa Clarita Valley for two reasons: First, it will show the impact of the new California "top two" primary system, previously used in Louisiana and Washington state, where the top two vote-getters from a pool of all participating candidates will engage in a run-off in November regardless of party affiliation.

Second, it features a primary challenge for Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, for the first time in over a decade, and a real tussle for the open 38th Assembly District, with three Republicans (including the congressman's spouse) contending with one Democrat for the top two spots.

This time around, I personally met, spoke with, or already knew most of the main candidates. I engaged in a personal lunch (he paid) with Congressman McKeon and his deputy Bob Haueter, and recently received calls from the congressman himself on my personal cellphone.

I spoke at length by telephone with Dante Acosta, a Republican seeking to unseat McKeon.

Nearly one year ago in July, I met early one morning at the Starbucks at Valencia Crossing with Paul Strickland to discuss his then-potential candidacy for the 38th Assembly District.

I enjoyed a personal meeting with podiatrist Dr. Lee Rogers, also seeking to unseat McKeon, just last week, and knew 38th Assembly District candidate Scott Wilk more than 10 years ago.

In other words, on the scale of information I would tend toward the "high" side of the spectrum.

With this knowledge, I and my Nebraska bride posted our vote-by-mail ballots some time ago, and I will reveal that we voted for McKeon in the congressional race and Wilk in the Assembly race. McKeon earned my vote for life when he voted for TARP, or Troubled Asset Relief Program, against his ideological instincts, because he thought it was best for the nation.

While the Wilk vote constitutes an endorsement, the McKeon vote does not, because I can fully understand the reasons why voters might choose someone else, and I would probably vote for Dr. Lee Rogers save for the McKeon TARP vote.

But what about the actual outcome of the election? Very few of the people casting votes in the June 5 primary enjoy the same access and detailed knowledge I do. A marginally larger number attended candidate forums, where some but not all of the candidates deigned to appear.

A somewhat marginally larger number than that participate in Facebook pages that mainly decry the candidacy of the incumbent and his spouse.

In terms of raw numbers, these detractors account for perhaps 5 percent to 7 percent of the actual numbers of folks who will cast ballots come June 5, so what will influence the rest?

For the passionate who follow every move of the campaign on Facebook (one Wilk/Acosta supporter even posts photographs of campaign signs where she finds them), I fear it will disappoint them to learn that the 93 percent will take their cues from more mundane and tried-and-true matters.

Specifically, name recognition first and party identification second. In the case of party affiliation for 38th Assembly District candidate Edward Headington and Dr. Lee Rogers, sharing the advantage of being the only identified Democrats in their respective races means they will probably sail through to the run-off in November with 35 percent to 40 percent of the vote.

Headington might even find himself coming first in the primary with a plurality of the vote due to Republican candidates offering a three-way split of support.

For the remaining three Republicans in the Assembly race, a real horse race exists. I believe name recognition will trump all other factors. This gives Paul Strickland and Patricia McKeon an edge - Paul due to a reported faux belief that he is related to state Sen. Tony Strickland.

I see Patricia McKeon finishing slightly ahead and going through to the general election to face Headington - and probably prevailing in this newly drawn majority Republican district.

In the congressional race, Rogers earnestly believes he possesses a chance to beat long-term incumbent McKeon in the fall, but I believe his enthusiasm and the enthusiasm of the Democratic Party chills greatly when McKeon actually pulls through the four-way primary with more than 50 percent of the vote.

That would give him victory outright if California adopted the Louisiana system in full: No runoff if one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary.

Either way, much noise will occur on Facebook, but only a limited number will hear it.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident.



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