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Tim Myers: McKeon’s rough election night

Myers' Musings

Posted: June 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

At 9:46 pm on Tuesday, Assembly candidate Scott Wilk stood on a small platform with wife, Vanessa, in a meeting room at the Hyatt Regency Valencia chock-full of local Republican notables, some Democrat aficionados and one registered member of the Green Party - myself.

One could not characterize the speech in terms of "victory" even though the election official's tally of about 40 percent of the total vote at that time revealed a comfortable 2,000 vote lead over Patricia McKeon to sit comfortably in the second spot in the jungle primary that he would eventually extend to more than 4,500 once all votes came in.

Instead, a humble and somewhat stunned Wilk thanked his supporters, hoping that his "possible" victory would finally end the local feud in Republican politics.

This feud began nearly one year ago after Scott Wilk, with no money or pay from anyone, (Scott makes his living providing advice and consultation on political matters.) involved himself in the important redistricting process to preserve a Republican majority district for the 38th Assembly seat.

Insiders knew that Scott undertook this effort because he planned to run for that seat in 2012, but a side benefit also accrued to Buck McKeon, since his efforts also went a long way in shoring up the Republican nature of the 25th Congressional District. But after this fine work, Buck McKeon, an intended or unintended beneficiary, announced to the hopeful Wilk that his own wife, Patricia McKeon, would seek the Assembly seat vacated by the termed-out Cameron Smyth.

This set off a series of dominoes that impacted other local elections and political organizations within the ensuing 12 months, reminiscent of - though less bloody than - the Hatfield/McCoy feud recently portrayed so excellently on the History channel.

The first salvo occurred in the fall when Scott Wilk, running for re-election to the COC board of trustees, suddenly found himself opposed by the mysterious Dr. Patrick Hill, a recent resident of the SCV who suddenly found support among McKeon supporters and showed fairly well (though losing) in the election, suddenly disappearing and not heard from since.

Then came the City Council election of 2012, where the McKeon machine attempted to target an incumbent, Bob Kellar, for defeat, supporting (sort of) the quirky candidacy of Ed Colley and (more actively) the candidacy of newcomer Jon Hatami. McKeon operatives used parliamentary maneuvers to deny Republican club endorsements to incumbent Kellar and challenger TimBen Boydston.

The result? Kellar retained office, nearly setting a record for votes, and Boydston became only the third challenger to unseat an incumbent, McKeon partisan Laurie Ender.

Does one see the trend here? Apparently, the McKeon partisans did not, because they continued their war against the ever-strengthening opposition.

Remember the complaint to the district attorney concerning the Really Patricia blog that attempted to implicate (innocent) Scott Wilk in nefarious Internet activity?

Remember the reversal of state Sen. Tony Strickland's endorsement of Scott Wilk in favor of Patricia McKeon?

These now seem laughable, particularly the latter since Scott Wilk actually came first in the Ventura County precincts where Sen. Strickland's endorsement should hold the most sway, and "shirttail relative" Paul Strickland came a dismal fourth.

Historically, feuds end when a decisive event either establishes one clan clearly in the stronger position or satisfies the bloodlust of both sides.

In addition to Scott Wilk's decisive victory over Patricia McKeon, on June 5 Republican voters in the 38th effectively purged all McKeon supporters and incumbents from the Central Committee, including local lightning rods for controversy McKeon staffer Bob Haueter and his (third) wife, Lynn Haueter.

Finally, 20-year incumbent Buck McKeon barely scrapped more than 50 percent of the vote in the jungle primary where he normally would expect to poll between 60 to 65 percent. Buck McKeon will most probably retain his seat in November, but his relative weakness and recent poor record in supporting candidates has left him wounded.

Will a newly humbled Buck McKeon lead to rapprochement in the local Republican Party? Only time will tell.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident.

 

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