by Mike Spence – Los Angeles County

1-19-2010 8:58 am

The surprise decision by Assemblyman Adams not to seek re-election to the 59th Assembly District has set off a scramble for the sprawling Los Angeles and San Bernardino County seat.

The 59th District contains all or parts of the Eastern Los Angeles County communities of. Los Angeles County communities of Claremont, La Verne, Glendora, San Dimas, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Bradbury, Arcadia and La Crescenta then suddenly goes north through the Angeles Forest and East into San Bernardino to take in the San Bernardino County communities of Apple Valley, Hesperia, Lake Arrowhead, Crestline, San Bernardino, Highland and Mentone. It is a district that makes the case for redistricting reform.

As a result the two sections really don’t have much in common. Except that many in the SB County portions grew up in the San Gabriel Valley.

The first draft of this district in the 2000 reapportionment had it running along the 210 freeway into Upland to Rancho Cucamonga. The story goes that someone wanted to run for Assembly in those areas and didn’t want to challenge the incumbent Dennis Mountjoy. Next draft solved that problem and opened up a new 63rd Assembly District.

One key point is that this district will disappear after this term. Nobody believes that it will stay the same. The L.A. portions will be part of a new district, same with the Apple Valley parts. The result is that anyone running spending his or her own cash is really taking a gamble on what happens next cycle.

First, I am not moving to Glendora. You can put you IE knives back and relax.

The people closest getting to the race or are in the race from what I know are:

Chris Lancaster. Lancaster is the son of the late Assemblyman Bill Lancaster. (There is a freeway out here named after the Assemblyman. Lancaster lost handily to Adams in the primary four years ago. He is an executive at the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group. Lancaster is a former Covina City Councilman. As a Councilman in the early nineties he voted for a utility tax and he was recalled along with the entire council. (Full disclosure I consulted for one of the committees supporting the recall. He was later elected to the council again and in a lesson about recalls turn out the utility tax is still there.

This was a big issue last as Adams ironically pummeled him on the issue. I’m sure this will be an issue this time as well. I spoke with Lancaster recently. He says that during that time period he was “young, naive and arrogant”. I don’t think he would ever vote for a tax again. But it will be an issue. Another potential problem is he has donated to Democrats in the past.

Lancaster is also a social conservative. I bet he is the only candidate so far that donated a publicly carried around a Prop 8 sign. That can work in a GOP primary and he strength will be on the LA side of the district. He tells me that if he runs he is planning on loaning his campaign 100K.

Corey Calaycay: Calaycay is Mayor of Claremont and is in his second term as a councilman. Calaycay is familiar in the LA portions of the district as field representative for Assemblyman and later Senator Bob Margett and Assemblyman Bob Pacheco. He also worked for Assemblyman Todd Spitzer.

On Sunday, Calaycay told me he was opening an account and putting 50K in it. He is making the rounds with the many elected officials that he knows from work and from the council. Those are his strengths. Claremont is the least Republican city in the district, but contains colleges that may be a source of volunteers.

Michael Rogers: Rogers is a teacher and football coach at South Hills High School and a member of the San Gabriel Valley Lincoln Club. He has never run for office before. Before teaching he was an attorney.

He was one of two candidates running against Adams in the primary. He opposes taxes and the upcoming water bond. He is running as a conservative.

Ken Hunter: Hunter is a real estate broker from Lake Arrowhead. He too was running for the seat before Adams stepped down. I spoke to him a little before that. He is a conservative. He was planning a campaign budget of 30,000 and was hoping the recall Adams folks get into the race. (More on that later). Hunter was headed to Sacramento to talk about his campaign. He will be running a very populist campaign.

Bret Henry. Henry is from the San Bernardino part of the district. Henry is president of the San Bernardino County Professional Firefighter Local 935. Obviously, firefighters are popular, especially in the mountain parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. Most people expect public safety unions to get into the race. That is what could also be the issue he is hit on. Public employee unions are taking hits over pensions and this union is affiliated with the AFL-CIO through the International Association of Fire Fighters. In can see the ad linking him to health care reform (without the Cadillac tax), Obama etc… He is also a trustee for the County retirement system.

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