Skip to comments.Pollard: Republicans target Parra, district seat
Posted on 08/31/2006 5:42:21 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
SACRAMENTO -- Nearly every time I've walked into the Capitol building this week, I've been buttonholed by one Republican or another who says something like, "Did you see that Nicole Parra voted for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants?"
It's all part of the GOP's search for anything they can use to help Republican Danny Gilmore in his campaign to unseat the Democratic assemblywoman who represents the west valley 30th Assembly District.
Republican strategists believe the district, while it is heavily Latino in population, is conservative, especially on social issues like immigration, abortion and guns. They hope to paint Parra as out of step with the voters as she runs for her third and last term in the Assembly.
She doesn't make it easy for them to get to the right of her. On economic issues, she has built a moderate-to-conservative record, siding with business and industry on most issues.
In her first term, she refused to support a bill to require farmers to subsidize health insurance for their workers, alienating one of her biggest early supporters, the United Farm Workers union.
In what Republicans see as a possible chink in her armor, Parra has consistently voted for bills to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, one of which went through the Assembly on Monday.
None of them has become law, and this one won't, either.
But Parra just laughs at the suggestion that her votes on the driver's license issue will hurt her politically.
"It has zero impact," she said. She believes there is widespread support in the valley for driver's licenses for all the people who work the valley's farms, many of whom have no papers.
"This is something that farmers and most people in the Central Valley do support," she said.
Air bill shake-up
A pending bill to shake up the San Joaquin Valley's much-criticized air board, giving cities and health-care advocates more clout, has created a puzzling political scramble.
It has fractured some of the traditional political alliances that could be expected to support a reform sought by environmental, health and farmworker advocates. Those groups have long contended that the board is too beholden to local industries to impose enough regulation on them.
When the bill came to a vote in the Assembly on Tuesday, it failed to pass largely because some liberal Democrats who traditionally support environmental reforms either joined Republicans in voting against the bill or abstained. They included Dave Jones of Sacramento, Lois Wolk of Davis and Leland Yee of San Francisco.
They did not explain their opposition, but state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, said he believes one reason was that he is among the bill's strongest supporters. Some of the opponents are legislators he has clashed with in the past. Yee, for example, was a key figure in trying unsuccessfully to block legislation Florez sponsored four years ago to impose clean-air rules on farms and dairies for the first time.
Another theory was advanced by Martha Guzman, lobbyist for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.
Guzman said she initially couldn't figure out why some Democratic assemblywomen wouldn't support the bill. But she said it finally became clear that they were being loyal to Parra, a fellow Democratic assemblywoman who opposed the measure.
Florez, who has long feuded with Parra, said she was "leading the charge" against the bill.
Parra emphatically denied that, insisting there has been long-standing opposition to the bill among many Assembly Democrats.
With the Legislature officially adjourning for the year today, its prospects look dim, but it could be revived next year.
It sounds like Florez is the one who needs to go.
The legislative districts in California are so convoluted and partisan, legislative elections are a joke there.