Caruthers Democrat Ted Miller has a Facebook campaign page for his 31st Assembly District run. The page includes pictures of more than three dozen people holding his campaign sign.
One is Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes.
So is Mendes, a Riverdale Republican, endorsing a Democrat in the race, which also features Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier, a Republican?
“Hell, no,” Mendes said.
Miller and Olivier are two of three in the 31st Assembly District race. The other is Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula. They are facing off in an April 5 special election to fill the unexpired term of Perea, who resigned from the Assembly a year early in December to take a private-sector job. The three are also expected to square off in June, with the top two advancing to the November general election, where the winner will serve a full two-year 31st District term.
Mendes said Miller caught him by surprise. They were in the KSEE (Channel 24.1) studios preparing for a television show taping when, Mendes said, Miller approached him and asked him to hold his campaign sign.
Mendes said he was distracted, talking to someone sitting next to him. Mendes said he took the sign, and then next thing he knew, Miller was snapping a photo.
Mendes is wearing a big smile, but he said it is more a look of surprise than happiness.
“Am I supporting Ted Miller?” Mendes asked rhetorically. “No. I’m actually actively supporting and working for Clint Olivier.”
The Mendes picture on Miller’s Facebook page has also helped keep alive a rumor that Mendes convinced Miller to run.
Why would Mendes do that?
Miller is a Democrat like Arambula, and the thinking goes that Miller might steal votes from Arambula, which would help Olivier.
Arambula has raised more than $400,000, is the son of Juan Arambula, who previously held the same Assembly seat, and has the backing of Sacramento Democrats as well as monied political interests in the state capital. Miller has raised almost nothing and has no endorsements of note.
But in the April 5 special election, turnout is expected to be very low, and if any of the three candidates can get 50 percent of the vote plus one, they win outright. Internal polls by both the Arambula and Olivier campaigns show Miller getting 5 percent to 7 percent of the vote. Might that be enough to tip the scales to Olivier?
Just don’t tell Miller that he is some sort of patsy to help the Republican Party win the election.
He says he’s in the race to win, and on at least one point, he and Mendes agree.
Asked if Mendes put him up to a run, Miller threw his head back and gave an extended belly laugh.
Then he said: “No.”