Casey Lucius gearing up for debate
Editor’s note: See modified section on Panetta’s opinion of Measure Z.
Republican congressional candidate Casey Lucius’ new campaign ad takes a big swing at opponent Jimmy Panetta, but she manages in the course of just a few seconds to drop the bat rather than launch a home run.
The TV spot has a dramatic opening with a narrator sounding an ominous tone. There’s a black-and-white photo of Panetta, without his characteristic smile. Tough words scroll across the screen.
“Washington is broken, because of people who want to be someone, not do something, because of a corrupt system based on who you know, not what you can do.”
The commercial uses two photos of Panetta. In the second, he looks kind of menacing, his image large against the Capitol in the background. At one point, the word “corrupt” goes from black to red.
It’s a provocative start. Then the bat slips out of Lucius’ hands. Black and white gives way to a nice color shot of the smiling candidate and her family and the thread of the commercial is lost.
Jimmy Panetta, shown here leaning slightly to the left
Here’s how it goes from there:
“I’m Casey Lucius. I joined the Navy, earned a PhD and became a professor. This election cannot be about political connections and dynasties. This election is about opportunity. It is about believing in our country and our community. I haven’t been handed anything. I have worked hard. I want to work hard for you.”
It’s not a long piece, but by the time it’s over, the viewer is likely to have forgotten the ominous opening and is left with the Hallmark portion of the piece, “This election is about opportunity. It is about believing in our country and our community.”
If Lucius had followed up on the opening with some meat about how Panetta’s famous father (Leon, for those of you who moved here 20 minutes ago) had done the Central Coast wrong, which he didn’t, or how the Panetta family foundation was being used as a shakedown tool for the Democrats, which it isn’t, she might have had something. Instead, we’re mainly left with the impression that Lucius really, really wants to go to Congress and it would make her family really proud of her if that happened. What was that about corruption?
Not enough to swing my vote.
If I had been given the chance at Monday night’s debate between Panetta and Lucius, I might have asked Jimmy to compare his belief in our country and/or community to Lucius’ belief in same.
I hadn’t seen the commercial until after the debate and I’m guessing that neither had the other 250 or so souls who filled the Weekly’s juice bar and meeting space to get a closer look at the candidates. Regardless, the commercial created the biggest drama of the evening, particularly when Panetta gave it back to Lucius.
Said Lucius: “If this was Jimmy Williams sitting here, he wouldn’t be sitting here.”
Said Panetta: “That’s absolutely offensive to the 70 percent of the electorate who voted for me in the primary.” He went on about how his family name hadn’t helped him while serving in Afghanistan, or prosecuting criminals in Oakland.
In the primary, he said, “They didn’t vote for Panetta. They voted for Jimmy.”
She got a good hand for her opener and he got an equally good one for his closer.
It is absolutely true that Panetta began the race with a huge advantage. His father was a congressman forever and then he was the head of the CIA and Secretary of Defense. Somewhere in there, he became the best known and best liked political figure on the Central Coast, likely the most powerful person in the region.
To her credit, Lucius recognized the uphill nature of her task and she has worked hard. From a fairly modest station, the Pacific Grove City Council, she has attracted a substantial following of people impressed by her presence, her military background and her willingness to break with the Republican Party from time to time. Making that easier, of course, is that the GOP recognized early on that she has no chance against Panetta, who has worked at least as hard as she has in community affairs and civic door knocking over the past several years. Since the party hasn’t funneled any money into her treasury, she isn’t obliged to follow its script. She constantly makes the point that Panetta is getting help from the fat cats of Washington, D.C. She hasn’t had the opportunity to demonstrate how she would respond to similar circumstances.
Often, the candidates agreed on key points Monday. They both said they are opposed to Measure Z, the anti-fracking initiative on the November ballot. Panetta says he doesn’t believe fracking will ever occur here, so he doesn’t think the measure is needed to prevent fracking in Monterey County. He said he fears it could have a negative impact on the oil industry. Lucius said pretty much the same thing.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Listening again to Panetta’s response via You Tube, the above needs to be amended. He said he would support Measure Z enthusiastically if he believed it was aimed solely at preventing fracking but he feels the need to delve more deeply into the measure’s fine points.
They agreed the nation needs comprehensive immigration reform and that Obamacare needs work.
They had different takes on the future of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, which is in charge of redeveloping the former Army base.
Lucius, who currently sits on the FORA board, said she sometimes finds it dysfunctional. She said the agency should be allowed to fold as scheduled in 2020. At that point, she said, the cities with pieces of the base should be allowed to develop the property as they wish, particularly if that wish is to create affordable housing.
Panetta said he didn’t believe the various cities were ready to accept the responsibility for the base cleanup and other complications that go along with redeveloping the land.
Panetta said he will vote for Hillary Clinton. Lucius said she was thinking about voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Panetta jumped in, saying that his opponent had said at a high school speech last week that she would vote for Johnson — despite his campaign promises to repeal all gun laws and environmental regulations.
Both candidates displayed a strong grasp of most of the issues of the evening. Lucius would spin it one way, saying a solution would be at hand if the Democrats would “reach across the aisle,” and Panetta would spin it the other, complaining that the GOP might as well be opposed to everything.
Lucius repeatedly criticized Clinton’s handling of Middle Eastern affairs and, in response to a question from the audience, said the president should be required to have served in the military. Panetta countered by noting that that would disqualify about 99 percent of the population.
Lucius said she opposes the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana in California. Panetta, though he is a prosecutor, said he supports it. She said she supports the death penalty. He said he does not but he didn’t get the chance to elaborate.