Jim Ruffalo: Placer Republican a write-in lieutenant governor choice

Looking Behind the Scenes
By: Jim Ruffalo
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Inventing a label for the notebook while observing that very few political candidates are including their political party label on their campaign commercials and mailers this year ... However, there is one candidate who makes certain that her party affiliation is out there for the world to see. Unfortunately, her name won’t be on any ballot. Well, it will be, but only if a voter bothers writing in her name. She’s Karen England, a Roseville resident who one morning woke up and decided to run for lieutenant governor. Problem is, the epiphany came well after the primary election, which means if you prefer neither Gavin Newsom (D) nor recently appointed lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado (R), then another choice is to learn how to spell her name. England admits she’s been less than thrilled with Maldonado’s political track record, especially after he helped Democrats pass the last budget, breaking ranks with the more fiscally conservative Republicans in the process. “The final straw,” she says, “came when Maldonado refused to help out the appeal process concerning Proposition 8.” In case you missed it, state voters passed Proposition 8, which proponents claim protects the sanctity of marriage. As usual, once the voters amended the state’s constitution, a liberal — and, in this case, a gay — judge overturned it in court. The matter headed to a higher court, but Maldonado — acting as governor while Arnold was again out of the county — declined to get involved. “That’s not all,” England insists, going on to provide a litany of what she sees as sins against the citizens of California. “It all boils down to the trend of turning us into a ‘nanny’ state, and both Newsom and Maldonado are guilty of this,” England added. She said, unlike the big names on the ballot, she’ll work to make government smaller, to halt new taxes and to limit regulation, all of which sounds appealing in times such as these. But mounting a successful write-in campaign is extremely difficult. Other than Sue Horne about a decade ago in a south Nevada County supervisorial race, I can equate the number of such winning endeavors to that of how many NBA championship trophies are over at Arco Arena. It usually boils down to who has the deepest pockets. England insists nobody is bankrolling her effort “but that’s not that necessary when you have a grass-roots effort. “If there ever was a time it (a write-in win) could happen in this state, it’s right now,” England claims, pointing out that she’s been contacted by more than a few tea party folks interested in helping out her campaign. And she also picked up an endorsement from former State Sen. Tim Leslie, who in a Thursday press release called her “a conservative conservative.” Of course, that, and a dollar, will get you directions to the nearest Starbucks. Still, she’s serious, and after more than decade as executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), she’s used to taking on tasks where the heavy lifting part belongs to her. For the uninitiated, the CRI works to promote what it calls “family-friendly policies” in both the state legislature and at local government levels. Not exactly work for the faint-hearted. “I’ll admit that a part of the reason I jumped into this is frustration,” she says, adding that the concern is both with how to repair the system and to get people back to a state of awareness. “Granted, it’s (a long-shot) and I felt I had to resign my position on the state’s (Republican) Central Committee because the bylaws say I can’t serve if I oppose a nominated candidate,” England said. She was also the state’s Republican delegate for Congressman Tom McClintock, a post she also vacated. (McClintock) said he understood and promised to re-appoint me on Nov. 3 (the day after the general election). England was also part of that reform slate which takes control of the Placer County Republican Central Committee in January. “I am a Republican, but I also feel that the Republican Party has lost its way. But rather than have it leave me, I’m not about to let it leave without a fight,” she said. As for those who insist a write-in vote for England is akin to another vote for Newsom, she prefers to think of it as “a vote for the people is a vote for the people.” Jim Ruffalo’s column runs on Sundays. Reach him at