2012-02-23 / Community

GOP needs contender in Senate race

Election 2012
By Sylvie Belmond

Fran Pavley Fran Pavley Fran Pavley, the Agoura Hills resident who rose from school teacher and town mayor to become a leader in the state Democratic party, plans to run for office this year in a district with more Republican voters than she’s ever faced before, but the GOP competition to defeat her so far hasn’t materialized.

Pavley, who’s served in the state’s 23rd Senate District for the past four years, remains unchallenged in her bid to represent the newly formed 27th District.

Under new maps adopted by the Citizens Redistricting Commission last year, the 27th District includes portions of the 19th and 23rd districts, linking two areas in which residents have diverging political a ffiliations.

An estimated 930,000 people live within the new 27th, which includes Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Malibu, portions of the western San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita, as well as the eastern Ventura County communities of Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and Simi Valley—which are considered Republican strongholds.

The filing deadline for candidates is Fri., March 9. The top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary advance to this fall’s general election.

Pavley’s old 23rd District included the heavily Democratic beach communities from Santa Monica to Oxnard. She won’t have it so easy in the new district.

Stickland, Smyth out

State Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Simi Valley), who represents the 19th District, was pegged as Pavley’s chief competition in the 27th. But when longtime U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly announced his retirement, Strickland set his sights on Congress instead of the California Senate.

In January, former Democratic Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg also decided against challenging Pavley for the new Senate seat.

Assemblymember Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita) made it a clean sweep by announcing last week that he too wouldn’t compete in the 27th.

Smyth represents the 38th Assembly District encompassing much of Simi Valley. With his term in the Assembly expiring at the end of the year, Smyth said he’s leaving politics for the time being because he wants to spend more time with his family.

“Cameron was the most obvious choice,” said Mike Osborn, chair of the Ventura County Republican Party. “We plan to field a strong candidate. We’re just not sure who that’s going to be yet. So far two or three other people are looking at the seat, but it’s up to them to announce,” Osborn said.

Osborn said the new district boundaries will bring fresh challenges to Pavley, who until now represented a primarily Democratic area.

“Pavley has never been in a district that was this close. It’s going to be an interesting few months,” said Osborn, who feels Pavley’s policies in Sacramento until now have discouraged business growth in California.

“She has been running industry and jobs out of state. The whole ideology has been a disaster for the state. Her global warming agenda has killed jobs and industry, taking them out of California,” he said.

Pavley lived in the San Fernando Valley for more than 20 years before moving to Agoura Hills. She was the city’s first mayor following its 1982 incorporation. Before her election to the Senate, she served three terms in the State Assembly, where she advocated for education and was responsible for many new policies that protect the environment.

Balanced registration

Parke Skelton, Pavley’s campaign consultant, said the senator is eager to compete in the new 27th District.

“It’s an important seat, closely divided in party registration. But Fran is a strong candidate and an effective and proven leader who has a lot of appeal to crossover voters in big chunks of the district,” Skelton said.

Skelton said the swing areas in the 27th will likely be Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and the unincorporated mountain communities. But Pavley has a strong support base in the Democratic Las Virgenes Valley and in Moorpark, where she’s known for her days as a school teacher.

While Simi Valley and Santa Clarita are mostly conservative, the San Fernando Valley, which makes up about 45 percent of the new district, is primarily Democratic.

District-wide, voter registration is 40 percent Democratic and 34 percent Republican.

“It will definitively be harder for Pavley to get elected so we can’t take anything for granted. But she’s a great campaigner,” said Jay Kapitz, an Oak Park resident and election strategist for the Conejo Valley Democratic Club.

Moorpark resident Dale Parvin, a lifelong Republican and member of the Moorpark Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said Pavley will be a tough opponent. She’s very popular in the environmental realm. It would be “very sad” if the Senate majority was Democratic again, said Parvin, whose wife, Janice Parvin, is the mayor of Moorpark.

“The Republicans have not controlled the state Senate in 40 years. The Assembly has also been Democratic for 20 years,” said Dale Parvin, who believes that all branches of government should include a mix of Republicans and Democrats to maintain balance and prevent tax increases.

And balance is exactly what the Redistricting Commission strived for when they created the new 27th District with its mostly even mix of Democrats and Republicans.

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