Steve Lunetta | Campaign Ad Awards, Part 2

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Part 1 appeared Nov. 24.

As visions of sugar plums dance in most people’s heads, we here at the Vast Right Wing ConspiracyTM (VRWC) have visions of clean campaigning where the best candidates win every election. 

Yeah, and Santa Claus really did conquer the Martians. With Pia Zadora. 

As promised, we are back with our second installment of the highly scientific analysis of the latest election’s campaign literature. As you recall, we received 85 pieces of both Democratic and Republican mailers over about a one-month period. 

We analyzed the smaller campaigns first, but now we take on the big fish: Assembly and Congress. 

In the Assembly race between Pilar Schiavo and Suzette Valladares, there were 26 mailers received. 

Valladares had zero (0) positive mailers that I can see. By positive, I mean a mailer that simply lays out the good things that have been accomplished and what the plan is moving forward. 

Candidates, for a lesson on how to do this, look at Marsha Mclean’s literature, the winner of the 2022 (M)Clean Award. 

Schiavo, on the other hand, had an astounding five. Five! Gotta give our new Assemblywoman props for that. 

On the flip side, Valladares had eight hit pieces against her opponent, mostly funded by insurance agents and Realtors and none by her campaign. 

Schiavo had 13 (gasp!) hit pieces on her opponent, one paid by her campaign while three were paid by some “Essential Workers” group and another nine came from the California Democratic Party. 

You should be so proud, Pilar. 

Which brings us to the big enchilada, the congressional race between former Assemblywoman Christy Smith and Congressman Mike Garcia. This race generated a whopping 36 pieces of campaign literature, a record as far as I can recall.  

With the House fully in play, I am not surprised that so much was plowed into this race. 

On the positive side of the ledger, both Smith and Garcia sent six uplifting and nice mailers, talking about accomplishments and what they plan to do. I particularly liked the cool fighter planes in Mike’s pieces. Christy, as usual, had the painfully staged photos of her shaking hands with construction workers, a staple in all modern Democratic literature. 

The hit pieces were a bit of a surprise to me. Garcia had 17 against his opponent with 10 financed by the California GOP and seven from the Congressional Leadership Fund. 

However, his campaign did not fund a single one. 

Smith, who in the past I have called “Dirty Christy Smith” due to her negative and dark campaign tricks, had only six. 

I’d like to think that the VRWC had some impact on reducing that number. Success! However, four of the pieces were funded by the California Democratic Party but two were funded directly by Smith’s campaign. Uh-oh. 

Up to our old tricks, eh, Christy? But the fact that the statewide Democratic Party greatly reduced support for the Smith campaign (as measured by the mailers) shows that they may finally be tiring of her repeated attempts to unseat a solid, popular and competent Mike Garcia. 

Before we get to the final award, let’s take a look at what happened on election night. While the congressional race was fully in hand and was not influenced in the following weeks, the Assembly race was quite a different story. 

Valladares was leading Schiavo 54-46%. This represented a healthy lead — about 7,000-ish votes. In the next couple of weeks, that lead gradually melted away until Schiavo was able to claim a 545-vote victory. 

What happened? There were six congressional races in Orange County that experienced the same fate — leads on election night but eventually overturned as more of the absentee votes were counted. 

How can this be? 

Simple. Ballot harvesting. For those of you who are unaware, an absentee ballot may now be collected and turned in by anyone. Common sense would tell us that such a practice opens up the door to massive election fraud and appears to have influenced a vote here in the Santa Clarita Valley. 

While I do not agree with those who claim the last presidential election was “stolen,” I do believe that we are sowing the seeds for a fundamental threat to our republic. The Democrats were highly organized to ballot harvest at this last election. The Republicans will now do the same. 

Does it take a wild imagination to see that some “harvesters” will collect ballots from the opposing party and conveniently lose them? 

Or, how about offering to fill out blank ballots as a “service” to voters? How about duplication and submission of fake ballots? 

Sorry, folks, but this makes no sense. Ballot harvesting must stop immediately. 

But, back to our election. 

While we here at the VRWC are very tempted to give 2022 Dirty Campaigner of the Year to our usual recipient, we cannot.  

The unusual election results and the self-funded hit piece against her opponent have earned Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo the 2022 Dirty Campaigner of the Year Award! 

Congrats, Pilar! 

Remember, candidates. Campaign clean! It makes a difference to all of us. 

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and the VRWC Grand Arbiter of campaign morals and ethics. He can be reached at [email protected].

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