Ruffalo: Ted Gaines is going places, maybe Mrs. Gaines, too

Looking Behind the Scenes
By: Jim Ruffalo
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Well, I suppose congratulations are in order for Ted Gaines, our state senator from the sprawling District 1. The Roseville Republican not only wiped out opposing Democrat Ken Cooley, but did so by more than the registration margin enjoyed by the GOP. No question about it; Gaines is going places. And, no doubt, the next place probably will be a try at some state office, because it’s obvious he’s a career politician. It’s difficult not to like the guy at first glance. He has the photogenic face, the made-for-media smile, and has an abundance of personality and — dare I say it — charisma. And, I confess to being a fan of his political philosophy, wherein he’s been a stalwart against tax hikes or creation of new fees, and is a master at staying in touch with his constituency. In fact, I would have been a supporter of his had he resigned his Assembly seat and made a clean run to replace the deceased Dave Cox in the state senate. It would have saved all of us a bundle of cash, instead of having to fund a special election to replace him. And who does he want as his replacement? None other than Beth, who also happens to be Mrs. Gaines. She may be very well qualified, but there’s something oh so royal about wanting a relative as your replacement. Sort of like political primogenitor. Not that it hasn’t happened before. One need only look south to the Ventura area to see how it’s already been done. Some of you more astute political junkies may know the name Tony Strickland. He’s a Republican state senator from the 19th District, and like Tolerable Teddy, also has a proclivity to run for higher offices, such as his recent failed try to knock off State Controller John Chiang. Prior to getting his senate seat, Strickland was the Assemblyman from the 37th District, and once safely in the senate, had his Mrs. (Audra) successfully run for the vacant assembly seat. Now both Stricklands are employed at Sacramento, and no doubt find two per diem checks a neat way to bolster each’s six-figure income. Nicer still is there is only one rent check to pay, and we taxpayers finance both of their cars and other benefits. There’s one more thing about Ted Gaines that worries me. As the presumptive (no offense meant) state senator, he gets an ex-officio appointment to the Placer County Republican Central Committee. Wait, there’s more. Because he currently occupies an assembly seat, he gets another appointment for that. On Wednesday, the Central Committee is scheduled to elect executive committee members, and despite Chairman Tom Hudson and his minions suffering massive defeats by the electorate in the June primary, many of them could be resurrected to office should Gaines and other Republican office-holders decide to use their ex-officio capabilities to do so. Hudson himself lost a re-election bid by more than 500 votes, and his right-hand man, George Park Jr., was defeated by almost as many votes. As a recovering Republican, I’ve had quite enough of Hudson and that crowd. They’re the sort who put “fun” in “funeral,” and have turned what should be a supportive and pro-active group into an invoicing organization that turns politics into a blood sport. Under Hudson’s leadership (that can’t be the right word), members have had extreme difficulty in being allowed to examine financial records, and I’ve already written my opinion on his disastrous decision to make endorsements in primary races, thus pitting Republican against Republican. One thing members wanted to find through a perusal of the financial records was just who was hired on as election workers. Some of those stipends reportedly ran as much as $1,250 per week. Meanwhile still unsettled — at least by the Fair Political Practices Commission — is that check-kiting scheme which may have been political money laundering. So one way Gaines could work himself back into the good graces of his critics is to make proper appointments to represent himself at the Central Committee. Now that I think about it, it would be a perfect place for Beth Gaines to cut her political teeth. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs on Sunday. Reach him at