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If you like your politics rough, you may enjoy the classic contest shaping up between Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker and former Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue for the right to represent District 4, which takes in Seaside, Marina and some of Salinas.

New campaign expenditure reports show that Donohue has tapped into his colleagues from agribusiness, picking up $20,000 checks from some of the Salinas Valley heavy hitters. The reports also show that Donohue has been working with two campaign management firms with reputations for sharp-elbow tactics. One of them, Pivotal Campaign Services, features Christian Schneider, who teamed with local Brandon Gesicki last year to run the below-the-belt campaign that dislodged Sheriff Scott Miller and replaced him with under-qualified Steve Bernal.

Donohue also has been paying for advice from Robert Dempsey, who in just two years went from being executive director of the state Democratic Parties in Vermont, North Carolina and Virginia to freelance campaign manager. On this coast, he is best known for his coaching of San Diego Congressman Scott Peters, who rode to a 2014 victory over a Tea Party-backed challenger in a campaign that is considered one of the nastiest in San Diego history, which is saying something.


Donohue campaign consultant Robert Dempsey

Donohue is, like Parker, a Democrat but he fancies himself as a champion of commerce and innovation. The tone of his campaign was likely set at his formal announcement last month when Del Rey Oaks Mayor Jerry Edelen labeled Parker’s supporters as “radical zealots” intent on imposing a “primitive” lifestyle on the citizenry.

Parker supporters bristle at the description, but she does have the environmental vote sewn up. In her two board terms, she often has been the lone vote against major development proposals, most of which have featured glaring deficiencies such as inadequate water supplies.  Supervisor Dave Potter, who is facing a big-league challenge from Mary Adams, has joined Parker on the losing side of some development votes in recent months but it appears to be campaign strategy rather than a genuine philosophical shift.

In terms of political style, the candidates are opposites as well. Parker is quiet and studious, conscientiously reading the voluminous staff reports that often go unopened on the desks of some of her board colleagues. Donohue is boisterous and even boastful, full of ideas but not necessarily the means to carry them through. He has been heavily involved in produce sales and marketing most of his life.

In the money-collection period that ended in December, Donohue picked up just over $100,000, putting his total at $164,000. Big spenders in his camp, at $20,000 apiece, were Rick Antle of the Tanimura & Antle produce concern,  Newstar Fresh Foods, Nunes Co. and, of course, the Salinas Valley Leadership Group. That is the political action committee put together by contractor Don Chapin to pursue a pro-development agenda at every level of government. Not far behind was Church Brothers, another large agri-biz concern, at $15,000.

While Donohue was receiving his $100,000, Parker was picking up $34,900, but her campaign treasury stood at $147,000, including some loans.

Her biggest contributor for the period at $9,250 was Shirley Devol of Carmel, who lists her occupation as consultant. Her late husband, Kenneth, was a journalism professor. Others writing sizable checks to the Parker campaign were women’s rights activist Margaret Schink, $2,500; the Democratic Women of Monterey County, $2,000; Harriet Mitteldorf and school counselor Doreen Gray, $1,500 apiece; and Monterey neighborhood activist Mike Dawson, physicist David Fried, Ann Fitzpatrick of Salinas, Lowel Figen, George Thomas and art dealer Susan Schlumberger, $1,000 apiece.

Other notable contributors to Parker were state Sen. Bill Monning, $274, and Peninsula water activist George Riley, $224.

Parker’s campaign advisers, according to the filings, are the Lew Edwards Group in Oakland and community activist Elizabeth Panetta.  Lew Edwards principal Catherine Lew has managed numerous campaigns up and down California.

Responses to this and other pieces in the Partisan are encouraged. Publication of reader comments, and the pieces themselves, do not constitute any endorsement of the positions presented. The Partisan greatly prefers accurately attributed comments that avoid personal attacks.


shutterstock_185810549-2 2HUG: The agribusiness giant Tanimura & Antle deserves thanks from the entire community for its plan to build a farmworker housing complex on its Spreckels property. The plan isn’t popular just across the road in the postcard community of Spreckels, which got its start as a company town. That’s understandable because the labor camp would house some 800 people, close to the number who already call Spreckels home. But T&A is helping the larger community by providing decent housing for the men and women who tend the crops, taking some of the pressure off already crowded neighborhoods in Salinas and other places in the Salinas Valley. Some of the company’s labor practices in the past have been less than sterling but it is a solid business in most respects and can be expected to be a good job with this venture. Let’s hope the Board of Supes agrees.

HISS: I was disappointed not to see any new news in the papers or on TV so far this week on Friday’s shooting of Naval Postgraduate School police officer Eric Glazier.He was shot by two Seaside Police Officers when he walked out of his house holding a gun while the officers were returning his wife home after a disturbance elsewhere? A tease on one local TV station (not KSBW) said he had aimed his gun at the officers but the subsequent newscast had nothing to back that up. Lack of follow-up since the weekend reflects a couple of things. The Police Department hasn’t issued another news release, the lifeblood of local journalism these days. And the various news staffs were too busy with the rodeo, motorcycle racing and the weather to go out and knock on doors. Now if anyone wants to criticize the Partisan for its failure to haul itself out to Glazier’s neighborhood, we wouldn’t be able to put up much of an argument but the size of our staff makes the Herald look like a real newspaper.

HUG: Someone posted some Facebook photos of the interior of the new Taylor building in downtown Salinas, and it looks pretty darned spectacular. I love downtowns and I’m hoping this is a catalyst for the rebirth of downtown Salinas, which, by the way, really isn’t bad at all. You Peninsula types who haven’t tried the Patria restaurant are missing something special.

HISS: The Osio Cinema closes its doors, without warning, leaving Peninsula residents with nowhere to go out to a movie except for the big theaters that play the same movies that all the other big theaters are playing. The reaction is strong but will it be enough to convince the owners that there are enough customers willing to give up Netflix and Amazon for the evening and venture out into the wilds of downtown Monterey? There is talk about some sort of crowdsourcing or subsidy to save the theater. More practical, it seems to us, would be for the Lighthouse theater in P.G. to play around with an art house approach. If it does, you all need to get out of the sweats, put some shoes on and put your money where your mouth is. It also occurs to us that the Golden State is empty most nights. Hint, hint.

HISS: Local radio personality Mark Carbonaro was the latest to weigh in with the nonsense that candidate X is more qualified to be president than Hillary Clinton. Does she lose experience points because of her gender or what? In Carbonaro’s case, he said the candidate with the superior qualifications is, who else, Donald Trump? If we need a president who is good at setting up shell companies and playing the bankruptcy system, Trump could be our guy. After all, what’s Hillary got going for her other than having be a senator for eight years, secretary of state and essentially assistant president for two terms?

HISS: Now, for what might be the most inconsequential Hiss published so far. Bet you haven’t noticed something that the Partisan has, but you’ll notice it hereafter. As you’re tooling down the highway, pay attention to the color of the cars going the other way. What you’ll find is a remarkable absence of color. Black, grey, silver, white, two more black cars, silver, beige, silver, grey, black, black, white. Often, you’ll see as many as 30 or more cars whiz by the other way before you’ll see a red one or a blue one. Why is this a Hiss? People who have an opportunity to put some color in their lives but go for grey, there are too many of them and we’d like to see something done about that.