Blakeslee wants counties reimbursed for special elections—including the ones that sent him to the senate.
January 13, 2011
State Senator Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) has introduced legislation that would return $17.7 million to California counties that shelled out big bucks for special elections in the past two years—among them the Central Coast counties that elected Blakeslee last August after high-priced primary and general elections contests to replace then-Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado.
Democrats had pleaded with then Gov. Schwarzenegger to consolidate the special election with the November general election to save money—and to give their candidate John Laird a better shot at winning.
Low turn-out special elections generally benefit Republican candidates.
“It’s cynically ironic that Blakeslee would fight for legislation to reimburse counties for an election that, arguably, he caused,” writes Laird’s former campaign manager Bill Maxfield in an email. “Registrars of voters and county officials throughout the 15th senate district were up in arms about the election costs at the time—some people were even concerned that the election costs could trigger county employee layoffs because the budget situation is so bad. The counties sent a letter to the governor about it.”
Blakeslee’s opponent, former Santa Cruz Assemblyman John Laird, who was recently appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to head the state’s Natural Resources Agency, called on Blakeslee to join him in urging Schwarzenegger to save the counties $2 million by consolidating the election. The Laird camp says Blakeslee didn’t respond. Blakeslee press secretary Erin Shaw insists he did, but doesn’t say whether he attempted to sway Schwarzenegger.
Nonetheless, the governor refused to budge.
“Tis the season for partisan bickering over special elections,” emails Blakeslee Press Secretary Erin Shaw. “When it’s a Schwarzenegger special election, the Democrats are mad. When it’s a Brown special election, the Republicans are mad. The fact is, our counties need more than campaign rhetoric, they need a check. That’s what we’re fighting for.”
Shaw reports that several county officials, including Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker have lauded Blakeslee’s efforts.
The nearly $18 million Blakeslee would return to the counties is to come from the state’s bare bones general fund.