Democrats in Washington, D.C., are giving a whole new meaning to the Aesop maxim, "Once burned, twice shy."
Because they failed to anticipate outside money tilting the scales toward Republicans two years ago, they lost control of the House. Now, not one, but two Democratic super PACs are intent on choking your mailbox with glossy, full-color political propaganda concerning the 26th Congressional District.
The House Majority PAC spent $22,000 on a piece that takes Linda Parks to task for allegedly wasting tax dollars on an equestrian center. The message, although quite pointed and direct, was delivered with a "Whoa, Nelly" soupon of humor.
Not so funny are four mailers, produced at a cost of $20,000 each, being offered up by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Not only does the DCCC attempt to link Parks with such Republicans-that-Democrats-love-to-hate as Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but also tries to panic voters with the preposterous claim that Parks will end Medicare, Social Security and women's rights.
So why don't both of these Democratic super PACs invest their filthy lucre in either enlightening us about what Julia Brownley has done for Ventura County or what Tony Strickland (the actual conservative Republican) has not?
Apparently, strategists hired by both PACs not only figure voters here will easily cave if faced with the appropriate boogeymen, but they also imagine that we believe it's a mortal sin to change political affiliation.
Their deductive logic goes something like this: Once a Republican, always a Republican; Democrats never vote for Republicans; therefore, Democrats should not vote for Linda Parks. Unfortunately for them, voters aren't buying either the first or second premise.
While registering Republican before running for city council (in Thousand Oaks) and "decline to state" before running for Congress may seem a tad opportunistic, voter registration has become much more fluid these days.
The fastest-growing category is decline to state, chiefly because younger voters, former Democrats and former Republicans find that the extreme views represented by both party platforms no longer resonate with them. In addition, many are fed up with partisan-fueled gridlock in Washington. "A pox on both their houses" seems to be the mantra during this election year — especially given the economy.
The current party registration breakdown in the 26th Congressional District (including the 5,872 voters who reside in Los Angeles County) may give the Democrats a 6-point edge, but nobody has been able to accurately predict how the remaining 23 percent are going to vote. In addition, Strickland is sinking significant funding into registering Republicans and it's working. Oxnard, for example, now boasts 652 new members of the GOP.
The Democrats do comprehend that the goal post has moved. Currently, courtesy of Proposition 19, only the top two vote-getters in the June primary will advance in November — despite party affiliation. If recent polls are to be believed, Tony Strickland and Linda Parks will prevail.
Still, why go after Linda? Here's the reasoning. Steve Bennett and Parks are perceived to be close allies — especially on the Board of Supervisors. The Democrats are afraid that now that Bennett is out of the congressional race, his voters may become her voters. The DCCC and the House Majority PAC can't allow this to happen.
But there's something about Ventura County voters in general, and Parks in particular, that the beltway boys just don't understand. First, Ventura County doesn't tolerate really nasty (especially if fictitious) personal attacks. There is invariably a backlash.
Second, Parks can play the victim better than anybody else in local politics, largely because she's had plenty of practice. The meaner attacks get, the more her base is energized, and FOLs (friends of Linda) fight back by bringing more Parks voters to the polls.
Finally, East Coast political consultants are way too old-school for this hip and happening place. According to county Clerk-Recorder Mark Lunn, not only does 45 percent of Ventura County vote by mail but the election is already over for most of them. Mailers? Seriously? Is there anybody who actually reads these outdated garbage-can fillers — besides those of us who analyze political campaigns?
If the Democrats really wanted to pick up the 26th Congressional District seat, they should have persuaded real estate broker Al Goldberg, Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Jess Herrera and Westlake Village businessman David Thayne to step aside. If these gentlemen garner more than 10 percent of the vote, and it looks like they will, Brownley is toast.
I only found a single photo of Brownley with Bennett in all the Julia Brownley for Congress fliers. Worse still, his endorsement was not the focus of the piece. It should have been.
Didn't Aesop have something to say about "birds of a feather?" If not, a picture, especially on Facebook, is still worth a thousand words.