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Last-Minute Blitz Seeks to Defeat Beth Gaines in Assembly District 4
A progressive independent expenditure group is expected to launch an aggressive last-minute campaign today against Republican candidate Beth Gaines in Assembly District 4, hoping for an upset win in the special election, which will be held next Tuesday, May 4th.
Opportunity PAC, an independent expenditure committee whose contributors include the California Federation of Teachers, the California Faculty Association, SEIU, and the California School Employees Association, will begin a strategic mail, media, and door-to-door campaign targeted at likely voters.
Here's the thinking behind the investment in an upset bid in the Republican-leaning district, which includes Placer, El Dorado, Alpine, and Sacramento counties.
The Democratic candidate, Dennis Campanale, captured 31.3 percent of the vote in the March election without lifting a figure. Gaines trailed him with 22.7 percent, edging out another Republican, John Allard, by just 726 votes. A third Republican captured nearly 10 percent of the vote.
But the Republican battle wasn't pretty. Gaines is a hard-edged conservative of the party's McClintock wing, which rubs many in that area's GOP the wrong way, as evident in the closeness of the vote in the primary, one of the first tests of the new "top two" election.
In addition, many Democrats and independents are motivated to vote by the recent anti-education votes of Beth Gaines husband, Sen. Ted Gaines and her support of an all-cuts budget. Even in these rural counties, law enforcement and community leaders oppose the Gaines' slash and burn cuts to public safety and schools.
Although outnumbered, Democrats in the area have been well-organized since the battles of Charlie Brown in his epic congressional races against John Doolittle -- the kind of organization that could pay off in low-turnout elections.
In polling done over the weekend among likely voters, Gaines was surprisingly neck-and-neck with Campanale, with the Democrat scoring well above what was expected among likely Republican voters while holding his own among independents and taking more than 90% of the likely Democratic voters.
A Democratic victory here would be a shock. But insiders say they are willing to take a shot at upending Gaines after financing tracking polls that showed vulnerability. Despite banking major contributions from special interests, Gaines has run a lackluster campaign since the primary, even appearing with Sacramento Republicans at a press conference based on the presumption that she has the seat in the bag.
That may not be the case after all. We shall see.
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