If California ever is going to become a two-party state again – and we hope it does – Republican voters ought to start selecting legislators who are open to at least engaging with Democrats.
Toward this end, we recommend Republicans Bill Halldin and Kevin Kiley in the June 7 primary. They are two of the eight Republicans seeking to replace Assemblywoman Beth Gaines in the seat that runs from Fair Oaks to Folsom, Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln and Cameron Park.
A third leading Republican, attorney Cristi Nelson, has the endorsements of Gaines, who must step down because of term limits, and Gaines’ husband, Sen. Ted Gaines. Nelson likely would be an effective legislator, too.
Among the other candidates are Republican attorney Andy Pugno, architect of Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that banned same-sex marriage, and El Dorado County Supervisor Ron Mikulaco.
Two Democrats – John Z’berg and Brian Caples – and one candidate who has no party preference also are running. But Democrats have little chance of victory in Assembly District 6, which of among the most heavily Republican districts in California.
Kiley, a Yale Law School graduate and former California deputy attorney general, is building his campaign around education reform and the need to protect public safety.
He also talks about the need to rebuild the Republican Party in California. Former Gov. Pete Wilson has endorsed him. At 31, Kiley could be a player in Republican politics for years to come.
Halldin is a Sierra College trustee and public relations consultant who talks about the need to overhaul California’s taxation system and retain businesses that are looking to other states where operating costs are lower.
Halldin has a long list of endorsements, including Rep. Doug LaMalfa and Sen. Jim Nielsen, and is backed by a political action committee funded by Republican financier Charles Munger Jr.
Halldin is one of the few Republicans to receive the California Teachers Association’s endorsement, though he says he supports charter public schools and other issues that the teachers’ union opposes. His endorsement does, however, suggest a willingness to engage with public employee unions that too often is lacking among Republicans.
Republicans have miles to go before the party of Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson regains parity with Democrats. One place to start is by electing Republicans who stick to their principles but understand the wisdom of finding common ground. Bill Halldin and Kevin Kiley offer the best hope for that in Assembly District 6.