Nielsen takes oath, back in State Senate
Sen. Jim Nielsen took his oath of office on Thursday, then noted a change in the surroundings with which he is so familiar.
Elected to state the Senate 4th District on Tuesday, this is the second time the 68-year-old Nielsen, R-Gerber, has served in the Senate.
The first was from 1978-90 when he served out of Yolo County.
"While the Senate room itself remains the same, I noted there appears to be less respect for the traditions and rules of the institution itself. I hope to remind my fellow senators and others of the integrity and dignity of the offices we hold," Nielsen said.
Nielsen was sworn-in by Associate Justice George Nicholson of the 3rd District Court of Appeals.
"It is a great honor and privilege to serve again and I am overwhelmed at the support I received from each county in the 4th District during the election." Nielsen won 66.6 percent of the vote (87,738) in the newly drawn district, the state Secretary of State's election division reported. Democrat Michael "Mickey" Harrington earned 33.4 percent (43,903).
He succeeds former Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, who stepped down ahead of his election to Congress.
Nielsen said he believes his strong win shows he is "pretty well attuned to the North State represented in the support of the voters."
In Tehama County, Nielsen collected 5,601 votes, or 67.01 percent of the ballots cast, the county Elections Office reported.
Harrington received 2,757 votes, according to the unofficial results.
With the state Senate now in session, Nielsen said he looks at the state budget as the number-one priority.
"The budget is always a problem and will continue to be until we can get control of spending," Nielsen said.
Although Gov. Jerry Brown has presented a proposed 2013-14 state budget the governor states is balanced and includes a budgetary surplus, Nielsen states it is "not fixed."
"It is just funded by raised taxes on the backs of the people, that is not a fix in my opinion. To really fix the budget, we need to change the size of government and spending, and cut back on agencies that are serving themselves and not the taxpayers," he said.
He believes the state needs a strong budgetary spending cap as well.
"In addition to the budget, I feel this state Legislature needs to take a good look at the disastrous results of AB 109 to public safety. The prison realignment program has put dangerous criminals on our streets and when they commit additional crimes their punishment is diminished," Nielsen said. "We have got to get that mess straightened out and I think I am uniquely equipped to handle that."
Following his loss to now-Rep. Mike Thompson in a close 1990 election, Nielsen was appointed to the Board of Parole and Prison Terms in 1992 and served as its chairman from 1993 until 2000.
He returned the Legislature in 2008 as an Assemblyman, a position that raised issues about his actual residency.
The courts ruled his Gerber home was his legal residence, and later, then-Attorney General Jerry Brown determined on appeal that there was no evidence to warrant further investigation.
Nielsen won re-election to the Assembly in 2010, but opted not to run for what would have been a third and final two-year term this past calendar year.
Knowing LaMalfa intended to seek a seat in the House of Representatives, Nielsen decided to make a run at returning to the Senate.
He was facing what was certain to be a tough campaign against Assemblyman Dan Logue when the Loma Rica Republican, who also was running for re-election in the Assembly, decided to drop out of the Senate race.
Nielsen and Harrington were the top vote-getters from the special primary election that was consolidated with the general election on Nov. 6.
Nielsen came up just shy of the 50 percent plus one majority that would have eliminated the need for the run-off.
The district includes all or parts of Colusa, Glenn, Tehama, Butte, Del Norte, Nevada, Placer, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Trinity and Yuba counties.