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Tim Myers: What will become of the SCV's 'geographic' Republicans?

Posted: May 15, 2010 1:13 p.m.
Updated: May 16, 2010 4:55 a.m.
In 1998 a gentleman named Kent Carlson ran for Santa Clarita City Council and received just under 1,500 votes, the typical “thanks for playing” total of someone relatively unknown who does mount somewhat of a campaign through the usage of signs, attendance at forums, etc.  

I recall that Carlson played some role in local Republican organizations, and generally folks thought him a rather conservative fellow.

Imagine then the shock of Roberta Gillis, local longtime Democratic activist, when Carlson showed up a scant three years later to join both of the local Democratic clubs.

What engendered this radical change? Gillis soon found out. Carlson, a financial professional, obtained an executive financial position with a labor union, therefore becoming an “employment” Democrat.

The example is clear: Many people can easily overcome the passions that led them to one political party when a paycheck depends upon it. This column, however, deals with the accident of geography and the local species that I like to call “geography Republicans.”

The simple definition goes thus: A person wishes to activate themselves politically on a local basis, and perhaps even run for and obtain a local office.

Low turnouts and other structural problems, which are primarily related to campaign financing associated with local politics, require that they align themselves with a political party even for these putatively nonpartisan offices.

For the ambitious and less doctrinaire, they quickly gravitate to the party that happens to hold majority registration in their particular area, thus the term “geography” Republican.

Referencing our own current City Council, I would number all as geography Republicans who joined the Republican Party strictly for the means to obtain local office.

Laurie Ender likes to make appearances with Republican Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, but I don’t see her reading the Economist or the Financial Times on a regular basis and formulating opinions on free trade or mortgage liquidity.

Frank Ferry harbors less vindictive feelings towards brown illegal immigrants, primarily informed by his Roman Catholic faith and not by any party manifesto.  Laurene Weste and Marsha McLean show unabashed interest in environmental preservation.

All the current council members dug in their heels and spent millions in city funds to battle the interests of mining giant Cemex, where mining interests generally count on the fairly robust support of the Republican Party.

And what about the recent election? TimBen Boydston, in any other realm by dint of personality and temperament, would stand firmly in the center-left. David Gauny admitted to me he thought it was certainly within the purview of local planning authorities to cool down real estate bubbles by declining to permit incremental projects that would contribute to vacancies after a future burst.

But all that might change with the redistricting following the 2010 census. The majority Republican 25th District, the 10-year fortress of McKeon, may sunset under the ministrations of a Democratic state legislature and potential Democratic governor.

Emboldened by the fact that the 25th District as a whole voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, a few flourishes of the pen on the map would segment the  Republican bastions of the 25th District and add them to other majority Democratic districts that would reduce them to rump status, much like the way Democrats now feel in the Santa Clarita Valley.

What would this look like? Pundits see Santa Clarita lopped off the 25th District and joined to a much larger area of the San Fernando Valley currently represented by Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman. The Legislature would then join the Antelope Valley with areas of San Bernardino County and create a majority Democratic district by slicing off the SCV, effectively getting a two-for-one payoff on the gerrymander scale.

A local joke makes the rounds concerning one Paul de la Cerda, a Republican activist and Saugus Union School District board member. One will know when the SCV becomes majority Democrat when Paul changes his registration. How many others will change their registration when this occurs?  Time will tell.

But the most likely barometer might be me. Over the last 10 years, I distinctly made a move to the center-left due to certain doctrines of the Republican Party, specifically relating to rough treatment of immigrants and denial of marriage rights.

However, I maintain my Republican registration since local Democratic primaries are distinctly uninteresting.

When will I change my registration?

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Myers’ Musings” appears Sundays in The Signal.


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