Contest for congressional seat heating up |

Contest for congressional seat heating up

Keri Brenner
Staff Writer

A Nevada County Democrat is challenging incumbent GOP congressman Doug LaMalfa in what is shaping up as a heated contest in the June 3 primary elections.

"I believe we're not being well-represented in this community," said Heidi Hall, 52, of Grass Valley, a state Department of Water Resources program manager.

"We've had 30 years of benign neglect. Now, it's going to active harm with this Tea Party (member)," she said, referring to LaMalfa.

But LaMalfa, 53, a Butte County farmer seeking a second term in the 1st District seat, doesn't agree, said his campaign consultant, Dave Gilliard. The 1st District covers a wide swath of Northern California counties from Auburn up to the Oregon border.

"She's obviously a very passionate candidate," Gilliard said of Hall. "But she's running in the wrong district. Other counties down in the Bay Area would be more receptive to her very, very liberal approaches to issues like taxes and government spending."

A third candidate, Butte County Democrat Dan Levine, has also filed, according to the Butte County Elections Office. Further information about him was not immediately available.

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Attorney John Reed of Shasta County, a Democrat who challenged LaMalfa two years ago and who was thought to be considering a second try, has instead decided to run for State Assembly in the 3rd District, according to Reed's office staff.

LaMalfa won over Reed to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, who retired from office.

Final state and federal office candidate lists will be certified March 27.

With Reed not on the ballot to split the Democratic vote and Levine's strength as a candidate not immediately apparent, both Hall and LaMalfa stand poised to gain the highest number of votes in California's "top two" primary system.

If that happens, they would then face each other in what could turn out to be an ideological showdown in the November general elections.

"We feel he's very well-positioned," Gilliard said of LaMalfa, a fourth-generation farmer. "His philosophy doesn't change from election to election. He's very consistent, very much attuned to the voters he represents."

Hall, a nonprofit leader for many years who has worked with environmental protection issues most of her life, disagrees. She was endorsed earlier this month by the state Democratic Party.

"I have no problem with a moderate Republican who is willing to compromise," Hall said.

"But now, we have a representative who is stuck on ideology, who wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, who is against food stamps, who voted against the budget and who doesn't want to extend unemployment insurance.

"All of these positions are harming seniors and working families and are not helpful to constituents nor the country," Hall said.

According to Hall's campaign website, she is a "Social Progressive, Fiscal Moderate." Gilliard, however, disputed Hall's assessment.

"Doug's philosophy is very much in tune with a majority of voters," he said. "He believes in limited government, an economy that focuses on growing jobs, and he knows that water (supply) is a very big issue.

"He is working on a bipartisan approach to building a new reservoir that will be serving Siskiyou and Shasta counties," Gilliard added. "That is going through Congress right now."

As to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, LaMalfa is opposed to it, Gilliard said, adding, "He believes the health care system needs reform; it just didn't need to be taken over by the federal government."

He is not in favor of "taxing small businesses" to provide health insurance because they will no longer be able to hire new people, Gilliard said.

He added that LaMalfa was not against all food stamps but felt that the program had grown too big and that people were abusing it.

"He's not against them (food stamps) for the truly needy," he said.

Gilliard said the congressman didn't feel the president's budget adequately dealt with the long-term debt issue.

"He's for limiting government, only spending on things that are really important," Gilliard said.

LaMalfa voted against extending unemployment benefits because "it was time to stop (extending it) — it was creating a permanent class of people no longer looking for work, totally dependent on government for their income," Gilliard said.

With the two candidates already brandishing swords, fundraising could play a big role in the contest. Hall said she will have raised $80,000 by the end of the current quarter.

Gilliard said LaMalfa, who expects to be one of the two top vote-getters in the primary, will focus on fundraising closer to the November general elections.

For more on the candidates, go to and

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

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