The Voice of OC‘s Nick Gerda reported this morning that Democratic state Senator Tony Mendoza is introducing legislation to prohibit publicly-funded mass mailings by local elected officials within 90-days of an election in which they are on the ballot.
Gerda makes the obvious connection to recent VOC coverage of mass mailers from the offices of Supervisors Lisa Bartlett and Andrew Do that may or may not run afoul of state Fair Political Practices Commission rules, but were vetted and approved by the County Counsel’s office prior to distribution.
What’s missing is the political context for Sen. Mendoza’s interest in mass mailings by local elected officials – an interest so sudden that he’s introducing emergency legislation, SB45, that would take effect prior to the November election.
Mass mailing are nothing new, and the VOC story is nearly three months old. However, three months ago, few expected Supervisor Do to be locked in a tight re-election battle with a liberal Democratic opponent.
With the winds of strong Democratic turnout at her back, Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez finished ahead of Do in the June primary, 38.1% to 34.3%. However, Do won’t be contending with another Vietnamese Republican elected official spending a quarter of a million dollars to garner 18.5% of the vote.
Martinez still has a tall mountain to climb, and Mendoza’s bill is aimed at making that climb less steep by taking away a major incumbency advantage. No amount of high-minded rhetoric can obscure the clear political intent of SB45 – which still has no language as of this writing.
Let’s look at it another way utilizing a thought experiment: if the 1st Supervisor District campaign situation were reversed, and it was Supervisor Michele Martinez’s re-election being threatened by Councilman Andrew Do – does anyone seriously believe Mendoza would have introduced this emergency bill?
Surely, some skepticism regarding Mendoza’s intentions are in order, rather than accepting his explanation at face value?