As things heat-up in the special election to fill the California Senate seat vacated when Dave Cox died, it would be a good time to note the genesis of how state legislators and Per Diem became an issue.
In a word it was Doug Ose (pronounced O-see).
When Vick Fazio decided not to run for re-election for his congressional seat back in 1998, the Republicans sensed that the gains made in the district by Tim Lefever could finally more the seat from Democrat to Republican. Ose’s chief rival in the race was Assemblywoman Barbara Alby. Alby had refused to collect the Per Diem that she was entitled to collect as a legislator.
Per Diem is intended to allow legislators that live some distance from the Capitol to keep a residence near Sacramento while the legislature is in session. Since Alby lives only a few miles from the Capitol, she did not collect Per Diem on a regular basis. Ose took her Per Diem records and turned them into an attendance record and claimed that Alby had one of the worst attendance records of any legislator in the State. In short Alby did not do her job. Ose succeeded in crucifying Alby on the attendance issue and went on to win the seat.
In 2008, Ose again ran for Congress and Per Diem was once again the main issue. This time Ose went after Tom McClintock for collecting Per Diem when McClintock lived just down the road in Elk Grove. McClintock represented a southern California district and kept a second home in Elk Grove. This is what Per Diem was intended to be used for. Somehow Ose never skipped a beat when he did his 180 on the Per Diem issue.
Now Roger Neillo is making Per Diem an issue in the SD1 race. Can you guess who one of his biggest backers is? If you guessed Doug Ose then you got it right.
All-in-all, I think Ose did a good job during his three terms in Congress. I did walk precincts for him and even got a thank you call from him for my letter to the editor supporting him back when Bill Clinton was bombing Bosnia. I still keep the wave file on my computer. However, Ose’s lasting legacy seems to be making Per Diem a political club to beat-up on other Republicans.
If all Neillo has is Per Diem to go after Ted Gains then I think he is sunk. Gains can beat-up on Neillo all the way to November on the fact that Neillo proudly voted to impose the highest State tax hike in the history of the country. Roger is proud that he was able to “collaborate with Democrats” in the Assembly. Those are not my words; they were uttered by Neillo ironically enough in Elk Grove just two weeks ago.
If you want to get even more ironic, the remaining wildcard in the race is Barbara Alby. She has made some noises about getting into the SD1 race. If she does that, then Neillo might have a chance of winning. Alby can’t win but she can split the Conservative vote and give Neillo an opportunity. We are days away from the end of the filing period. If Alby files it will likely be on the last day to do so.