Harrington, Nielsen in invisible race for 4th Senate District
There aren't a lot of campaign signs or announcements of forums and endorsements, but for one legislative race in Yuba-Sutter, there won't be a final result until next Tuesday.
That's when voters, at least a few of them, will go to the polls to decide who replaces Congress-bound Doug LaMalfa in the 4th Senate District.
In the runoff of the two highest vote-getters in November, voters will see two familiar names: former Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, and frequent candidate Mickey Harrington.
Though a Democrat, Harrington said he's concerned about issues many Republicans would also list as priorities: water rights, jobs and schools.
"We've been dominated by the other party for years, and they don't bring home the bacon," said Harrington, a retired electric company and union employee who lives in Magalia. "The party's not working to help the state."
Harrington, who made unsuccessful Assembly runs in 2006, 2008 and 2010, said he also wants to learn how to keep the northern Sacramento Valley's water at home, with Southern California eager to get more.
"I don't know what I can do, but I'll find out," he said.
For rancher Nielsen, whose campaign did not return calls for comment, winning would be returning to a familiar place, as he served in the state Senate from 1978-90. He then served on the state Board of Prison Terms before being elected to the Assembly in 2008 and declining to run for another term last year to focus on a state Senate run.
Because the race is for the last two years of LaMalfa's term, it will be within the boundaries LaMalfa successfully ran in three years ago. That district has a decided tilt toward Republicans, who constituted 44 percent of the electorate in October 2010 to 31.77 percent for Democrats.
Harrington said he thinks he can have a shot if he can get his voters out, noting turnout will probably be low. He received more than 100,000 votes in November, good for 27.7 percent to 49.8 percent for Nielsen.
But the co-author of an annual book tracking California political races said Harrington's hope is probably in vain.
"The only way you have a chance is if Nielsen made too much of a perfunctory race," said Allan Hoffenblum, co-author of the California Target Book. "He has a lot more of his type voters than Harrington has his."
Hoffenblum said he believes Nielsen's campaign is heavily involved in a get-out-the-vote effort, focusing on vote-by-mail voters who are more likely to return ballots.
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