Political Notebook

Madera Supervisor Tom Wheeler is backing both Tacherra and Rogers

Madera County Supervisor David Rogers has earned the endorsement of his fellow supervisor Tom Wheeler in his 16th District congressional run, but could lose it over his opposotion to a proposed casino along Highway 99 north of Madera.
Madera County Supervisor David Rogers has earned the endorsement of his fellow supervisor Tom Wheeler in his 16th District congressional run, but could lose it over his opposotion to a proposed casino along Highway 99 north of Madera.

Burrel dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra and Madera County Supervisor David Rogers are both trying to oust incumbent Fresno Democrat Jim Costa this year in the 16th Congressional District.

Their respective websites also prominently list the endorsement of Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler.

The reason? Wheeler is backing both candidates.

At least for now.

“I like them both,” Wheeler said. “I’ve always supported Johnny. He asked me and I said ‘yeah.’ Then Rogers asked if he could use my name.”

But Wheeler added that he has wavered a few times on his support of Rogers. And that continues still as the two prepared for a June 7 election showdown, where the top two candidates, regardless of political party, advance to the November general election.

If (Tom) Wheeler wants to remove his endorsement for that, fine, so be it.

Madera County Supervisor and 16th Congressional District Republican candidate David Rogers

Wheeler is teetering a bit this week because he said Rogers doesn’t seem fully committed to opposing federal legislation that would make it harder to locate a new tribal casino west of Highway 99 just north of Madera.

A bill introduced in Congress last week will attempt to stop the North Fork Mono Indians from building a casino on property the tribe has in federal trust near Madera.

The bill says that any “off-reservation” tribal gaming facility defeated in a state referendum or not approved by the state Legislature can’t be given the green light for construction by the federal government. The Madera casino was the subject of Proposition 48, which voters opposed in 2014. Before the election, it had been supported by Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature.

This week, the Madera County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve sending a letter opposing the legislation. Rogers was missing for the vote.

Wheeler called Rogers’ vote on the letter a “test case” for keeping his endorsement.

“Rogers left the meeting and nobody’s seen him since,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler wondered if Rogers slipped out to avoid having to take a public stand on the legislation – and risk losing the endorsement. The letter will still go out under Madera County letterhead, but without Rogers’ signature.

Rogers said he wasn’t hiding.

“I didn’t do that on purpose,” he said. “I had a lunch engagement.”

And for the record, Rogers said he was “for anything that stops the (North Fork) casino.”

Wheeler probably won’t like hearing that.

If Rogers had been present Tuesday and opposed the letter, it still could have been sent, but not on official county letterhead.

As for Wheeler’s endorsement, Rogers said emphatically that he wouldn’t compromise to keep it.

“If Wheeler wants to remove his endorsement for that, fine, so be it,” Rogers said. “I refuse to compromise my views for the simple nod of anybody else.”

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