Earlier tonight I had a lengthy conversation with Beth Gaines. Beth’s husband Ted is currently a member of the California State Assembly and is the Republican nominee for State Senate in a special election to take place next Tuesday. The Senate District, formerly held by Senator Dave Cox who unfortunately passed away after a long bout with cancer, is considered a "safe" GOP seat.
Beth and I talked about Ted’s campaign — she and Ted feel very good about the election, on which they are both working hard, taking nothing for granted. (Ted and Beth are pictured to the right.)
Then our conversation turned to the pending vacancy in the 4th district where it was rumored that Beth has been contemplating a run (h/t to Linda Hunter at Placer County Online for being the first out-the-gate with a potential Beth Gaines candidacy). In today’s Sacramento Bee Capitol Alert blog, Ted acknowledged that Beth was, in fact, considering a run.
Based on my conversation with Beth, I feel comfortable in saying that she is going to run for the Assembly, pending her husband actually winning this Tuesday. Her precise words to me were that she is "very seriously considering running for the Assembly" — but taking into account the entire conversation, and her decisive attitude and enthusiasm about a run, it was clear to me that the Ted Gaines for Senate HQ will not be shutting down next week. On the contrary, I think it will quickly morph into the Beth Gaines for Assembly HQ.
Gaines will get into a race where there is already one other aggressive Republican candidate in the field — Roseville Councilman John Allard. Allard, a former longtime aide to former State Legislator Tim Leslie and who now owns a home cleaning service franchise, jumped out of the gate with a host of endorsements, very reminiscent of the Ose for Congress campaign. Of course, that didn’t work out so well for the moderate former U.S. Representative, but then Allard is not facing Tom McClintock as an opponent, either. Ose and former Congressman John Doolittle are among Allard’s early endorsers. Popular Congressman Tom McClintock, who was just re-elected with a very wide margin of support, has not weighed into the race as of yet, though he was a high profile supporter of Ted Gaines over Assemblyman Roger Niello in the State Senate special election primary, and Allard endorsed Ose over McClintock in that contentious primary. Allard has retained well respected political consultant (and FR blogger) Matt Rexroad of Meridian Pacific to run his campaign.
My friend and popular radio talk show host Eric Hogue had a recent write up on a potential Beth Gaines/John Allard match up that is worth a read. Though I will say that I think that Eric’s use of the word "nepotism" in bold print at the top of his piece is a bit over the top. Hogue references "GOP Nepotism" because two other GOP couples have served simultaneously in the legislature — George Runner was a State Senator while his wife, Sharon, served in the Assembly — and Tony Strickland was a State Senator while his wife, Audra, served in the Assembly. While having a spouse who was already in office was helpful, the definition of nepotism is, "favoritism granted to relatives or friends regardless of merit."
In the case of Sharon Runner, I have known Sharon as long as (if not longer than) George, going back to our days as activists in the California Republican Assembly, long before George even ran for the Assembly. Both were key leaders in the group, and co-owners of a private school. In the case of Audra Strickland, heck she and I go back to her days at Chairman of the U.C. Irvine College Republicans, well before she met Tony. Both Sharon and Audra were superior legislators in their own right. While I have not known Beth Gaines as long as I’ve known the others, she is smart, capable, and very conservative — not to be underestimated one bit.
In my opinion, look for a formal announcement from Beth shortly following Tuesday’s special election — and then we’ll be off to the races. One interesting twist here will be whether or not Beth will be able to retain the well respected Dave Gilliard as her consultant — Gilliard has a long association with the Gaines family, and is currently the consultant for Ted’s State Senate race. That said, Gilliard already has signed an unannounced candidate for AD 4, and it remains to be seen whether or not Beth’s entry will impact whether Gilliard’s client decides to run, or take a pass. And, it is worth mentioning that since there isn’t even a vacant Assembly seat yet, there is no telling who else might emerge as a candidate for the seat.
One interesting issue to be worked out is where John Allard stood in the big showdown battle between Gaines and Niello a couple of months back. When I was talking with Matt Rexroad, he assured me that Allard had endorsed Gaines (Niello was defeated in a rout, no doubt because of his votes for the largest tax increase in California history). But when I spoke to the Gaines campaign, they told me that Allard had not endorsed or helped Ted in his primary against Niello. We’ll look into this more as we get past Tuesday, and into the AD 4 race.