A special election Tuesday is slated to determine whether Republican Jim Nielsen or Democrat Mickey Harrington will represent District 4 in the California State Senate.
But the special election lacks the fanfare and attention paid to candidates during the November election, the candidates said.
“The citizens are not attuned to or thinking about elections,” Nielsen said. “The hardest part is to realize there is in fact an election.”
Tuesday’s election is less about convincing voters and more about getting people to actually vote, Harrington said.
“Most people understand why it is, but the real point now is who gets their base out,” Harrington said. “History shows these kinds of elections are low in getting people out to vote. If we get our base out, we stand a chance.”
Nielsen, largely regarded as the frontrunner heading into November, did not get the more than 50 percent of votes required to outpace his fellow five candidates on the ballot for the District 4 seat that Doug LaMalfa recently vacated. LaMalfa’s term will run for two more years before the District 1 senator becomes the sole representative of Nevada County.
The November race was complicated by Republican Dan Logue, who entered, then withdrew from the race but still appeared on the ballot.
Logue withdrew due to reported health complications and concentrated his efforts on winning California’s District 3 Assembly seat, which he managed to take with 56 percent of the vote.
Nonetheless, Logue took a significant portion of the conservative vote in Nevada County, garnering 5,731 votes for 14.54 percent of the turnout.
Nielsen captured 49.8 percent of the district vote, according to the official canvass results posted on the California Secretary of State’s website. Harrington garnered 27.8 percent of the vote.
“I’ve had a few people call and ask why I didn’t get out of the race,” Harrington said. “There would have been an election whether I was on the ballot or not.”
Harrington, a Magalia resident, is semi-retired and president of the Butte-Glenn Labor Council.
His top issue is creating jobs with pay equality and bringing veterans into the workforce, he said. He also outlined reducing classroom sizes and preserving Northern California’s water rights as among his top issues.
“There is a great difference between us,” Harrington said of Nielsen. “He is of the part of the ‘No’ party — they just say ‘No’ to everything.”
Harrington called into question Nielsen’s residency.
“Almost everybody knows he doesn’t live where he says he lives,” Harrington said.
Nielsen has a listed address in Gerber, instead of his longtime home in Woodland, which is outside of the district. However, Nielson has noted that the first such charges of misrepresentation were thrown out of court within a month, and he was awarded attorney’s fees.
“The No. 1 issue, as far as I am concerned, is public safety,” Nielsen said, also pointing to overturning fire taxes and the state’s budget as priorities.
“Unfortunately, it is not fixed, it’s only being funded by the massive tax increase,” Nielsen said of the state budget.
Regardless of their political stands, Nielsen said the biggest difference between him and his opponent is experience.
“I obviously have a long track record of dealing with the onerous agencies of state government,” Nielsen said. “There is no learning curve with me.”
Regardless of what voters decide Tuesday, Harrington said he has no plans to stop trying to get his foot in the door.
“I plan on running in two years anyway, whether I win or not,” he said.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email email@example.com or call (530) 477-4236.
“The citizens are not attuned to or thinking about elections.”
— Republican Jim Nielsen