The Riverside County Registrar of Voters released a list of candidates in the various races throughout Riverside County for the June Election. Only one word comes to mind dear readers: Yawn.
2nd District County Supervisor John Tavaglione is being challenged by Herb Higgins, a former Norco City Councilmember. Higgins has not raised any money and does not have a campaign organization from what anyone can tell. Tavaglione on other hand has locked up the key endorsements of his district and has over $400,000 in the bank. That's hardly a contest. Tavaglione's next four years are quite secure.
5th District Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, despite being the target of a half-hearted recall last year, is running unopposed.
Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff is being challenged by his former Chief Deputy Frank Robles. Robles is relying on the financial assistance of Los Angles County businessman Leo McIntrye. Sniff, like Tavaglione, has picked up all of the major endorsements and has his deputies and their gigantic Political Action Committee in his corner. Robles' failure to mount a takeover of the Riverside Sheriffs' Association last year pretty much doomed his campaign.
Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco is being challenged by Judge Paul Zellerbach. While this is being billed in the main stream media as the clash of the titans, in reality that's far from the truth. Pacheco too has all of the major endorsements for his race and has close to $500,000 on hand to Zellerbach's $0.00.
Zellerbach came out swinging at Pacheco in his announcement claiming that under Pacheco, the District Attorney's office has been losing more than half of the cases it prosecutes. Zellerbach's statistics were debunked last week by the Press Enterprise in an article that showed Pacheco's DA's office gets convictions of about 95% of the defendants it prosecutes. It's going to be next to impossible to argue with those results, especially after the very newspaper that hates Pacheco has already outed Zellerbach for his exaggerations.
The only race really worth watching this spring is probably the one that will go down in the desert.
4th District County Supervisor John Benoit, who was appointed to the Board of Supervisors by Governor Schwarzenegger after the resignation and death of Roy Wilson, faces retired Palm Springs Police Chief Gary Jeandron. Benoit is an experienced and hard edged campaigner with close to $300,000 in the bank and all of the endorsements one needs to get elected in eastern Riverside County, except one very important one.
The Riverside Sheriffs' Association is backing Jeandron. This endorsement so outraged Benoit that he retaliated against them by cutting the pay of the Probation Officers the RSA represents and imposed furloughs on them. The RSA didn't take it lying down and is now running radio advertisements in the desert informing the public of Benoit's role in cutting law enforcement since joining the Board of Supervisors.
Benoit is also being hobbled by his affiliation with developers Steve Holgate and Robert Osborne who have been indicted in the San Jacinto corruption case. Benoit was forced to give $10,000 to charity that came from their tainted contributions. And a few weeks ago a Sacramento political consultant had his office raided by Riverside County District Attorneys investigators. The consultant was doing work for Holgate on behalf of Benoit in the 2008 Republican Primary Election.
While it is unknown how much money RSA will give Jeandron in his battle against Benoit, Jeandron is already running his own radio advertisements. This is probably a good indication that he's had a major infusion of cash since announcing his candidacy.
Despite all of this, the odds are still in Benoit's favor. He's been in office for over a decade, has a professional team with him, and never misses an opportunity to be in the media.
We'll keep tabs on things for you as always, but leave you with one final thought: In a county with over 2 million people, isn't there a better list of challengers out there?