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Jon Fleischman

AD 67: Family Action PAC Pulls Melendez Endorsement

In what is arguably the most conservative Assembly District in the State of California, Riverside County’s 67th, two Republicans are in a knock-down fight to the finish line — Phil Paule, who is Congressman Darrell Issa’s District Director and an elected Water Board member, and Melissa Melendez, who is a member of the Lake Elsinore City Council.

Yesterday afternoon I received a telephone call from my good friend Larry Smith, President of the influential Family Action PAC conservative group.  I should probably tuck into this post that I am a member of the Family Action PAC.  Early on this organization had endorsed Melendez before the June election, and she has touted her support from the FAP on many occasions, and the group’s endorsement is prominently featured on Melendez’s website.  Larry called to tell me that the Board of his organization had held a meeting yesterday, and decided to formally withdraw their endorsement of Melendez, in what Smith told me was a “substantial public policy disagreement” with Melendez.

Melissa Melendez loses hey supporter.

While Larry really wasn’t eager to go into more details on the Family Action PAC’s unusual pulling of support for a candidate, for me it’s easy to put this into political context.  You see, there has been a developing controversy in this Assembly race over the issue of Proposition 32, the Stop Special Interest Money Now ballot measure.  Back in the June election, it seemed that both candidates supported Prop. 32 — the passage of which is a top priority for conservatives, but especially for the Family Action PAC.  Several of the PAC’s board members are more than casually involved with the campaign.

I first became aware a few weeks ago that at public forums, Paule was making it very clear how strongly he supports 32, and Melendez was would equivocate and have no position either way.  Then the issue finally got into a local newspaper when this happened at a high-enough profile forum that a news reporter was present.  You can check out the story here.

Phil Paule is unquivocal in his support for Prop. 32.Given that the FAP endorsed her before — and it is not easy to get their endorsement, it’s a rather rigorous endeavor — I will have to assume that at that time she said she supported the measure.  Today, she rather unclearly does not have a position on 32 — and in fact criticizes it.

Now as a practical matter, will the news of the FAP pulling its endorsement this late in the election season really matter?  Probably not much to the voters.  But as word gets around, it could have a measurably impact on the ability of Melendez to close the deal with conservative grass-roots activists.

It is very unusual for the Family Action PAC to undo an endorsement, but it is not surprising that this group, grounded in principles, would go out of their way to do so on a matter of principle, and do it so close to the election.

Momentum: Paule.