Heidi Hall or Doug LaMalfa? Nevada County voters decide | TheUnion.com

Heidi Hall or Doug LaMalfa? Nevada County voters decide

Dave Brooksher
Staff Writer

There are less than two weeks to go before Election Day, and vote-by-mail ballots have already gone out. Most of the races decided on Nov. 4 will by hyper-local, but Nevada County residents will also have a say in deciding who represents this region in Congress — Republican incumbent Doug LaMalfa or challenger Heidi Hall.

Nearing the end of his freshman term in Congress, LaMalfa has worked on legislation opposing firearm micro-stamping laws and increasing Northern California's water storage capacities by proposing the new Sites Reservoir in Colusa County.

LaMalfa has been a vocal critic of the Veterans Administration in the wake of recent controversies over unacceptably long wait times for vets seeking care. Back in 2013, he was a cosponsor of HR 241, the Veterans Timely Access to Healthcare Act.

In July, LaMalfa also touted the passage of HR 3230, the VA Reform Bill, which gives some veterans the option of seeking health care from private providers.

"We've been working hard in my office to help our veterans, which has been a real shame on how the VA has treated veterans across the country," LaMalfa said, during his opening statement at a League of Women Voters forum in Nevada City.

"There's a lot of holes in that system," LaMalfa said. "We've seen how it's gone in Arizona, back in Pennsylvania, where veterans have to wait years because their claims aren't being heard in the Oakland office."

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Hall, the Democratic challenger, has been critical of that work. As the parent of a veteran, she has called LaMalfa's votes on veterans issues "deeply disappointing."

"He has again allied himself with extremists in Congress who are choosing an ideological position that no government is the best government," Hall said during the primary. "That has meant he's voted against additional help, additional money, and additional training for veterans and for the VA."

During the League of Women Voters forum, both candidates responded mostly along party lines to questions on a laundry list of controversies such as same-sex marriage, marijuana, fracking, immigration, gun control, health care and climate change.

When asked, however, there are some matters on which the candidates say they disagree with their political parties.

"I think sometimes we're not firm enough on accomplishing some of the infrastructure that we need to do with water and flood control," LaMalfa said.

LaMalfa stated he'd pretty much agree with everything on the Republican platform, but he'd like to see longer debates and a greater effort to seek consensus within the party.

Hall said there are several issues on which she diverges with the party line.

"I'm in agreement with people in both parties who believe that we're overreaching with homeland security," Hall said. "We need to back off.

"I believe strongly that we need to get money out of politics and my party is not doing anything on that," she added. "I think we're as beholden as Republicans are to big money."

Hall also said she thinks the Democratic party needs to be fighting for net neutrality — the idea that Internet service providers should treat all data transfers equally without preferential treatment for certain sources or types of content.

Both candidates do, however, share some common ground. Hall and LaMalfa both expressed concerns about the Obama administration's use of unmanned aerial drones in combat missions overseas. They both expressed concerns about federal overreach in the form of electronic surveillance of American citizens.

They also both prefer the Giants to the Cardinals.

The 'E' word

During the League of Women Voters Forum, Heidi Hall repeatedly stated that LaMalfa had consistently voted with a group of extremists in Congress — though she stopped short of calling her opponent an extremist outright.

"I'm not going to water down my position on what I think of extreme votes," Hall said later during an interview at The Union. "If he's going to vote that way, people should know it and he should be willing to talk about it."

During the forum, LaMalfa declined to address the way Hall repeatedly labeled him. He was asked to do so later, however.

"I think anybody with strong views that the opposition doesn't like is going to be labeled an extremist," LaMalfa said. "If there's individuals out there fighting for conservative values, I don't see that as being extreme."

Campaign finance

As of Sept. 30, the most recently available campaign finance filing for the federal elections commission, LaMalfa had $235,404 cash on hand to see him through November. That's nearly five times the size of Hall's war chest, at just $50,783.

There's a similar disparity in their fundraising numbers. Since first announcing her candidacy in December 2012, Hall has raised a total of $194,021 — but LaMalfa has raised $613,046 since his successful bid for office in 2012.

This year alone, LaMalfa raised $258,742. And he still has most of it at his disposal going into the final stretch of the campaign.

According to OpenSecrets.org, 54 percent of that money came from Political Action Committees, or PACs. LaMalfa's top donor, as of Sept. 30, was the Every Republican is Crucial PAC — which has donated more than $2 million in this election cycle. Just $10,000 of that went to LaMalfa, however.

Looking at his top 20 contributors, there are several standouts. Berkshire Hathaway, a multi-national corporation headquartered in Nebraska, donated $7,000. The National Beer Wholesalers Association donated $6,000. Exxon Mobil and Pacific Gas and Electric both donated $5,000.

Walmart, Chevron, Valero, Honeywell, Koch Industries and the National Rifle Association all made LaMalfa's long list, though none donated more than $3,500, or less than $2,000.

"There's plenty of objectionable ones to conservative voters on the other side, too," LaMalfa said, responding to a question about how liberal voters might react to seeing the corporate interests in his list of contributors.

"So what?" LaMalfa said.

OpenSecrets.org also has a list of the top industries contributing to LaMalfa's campaign. The top three, in order, are crop production and processing, casinos and gambling, and oil and gas.

Comparatively speaking, OpenSecrets.org has very little information on Hall's fundraising efforts.

According to documents obtained on the FEC website, more than 95 percent of the $194,021 Hall has raised since January 2013 came from individual contributions. Roughly half of them are itemized, and can be reviewed on the FEC's website.

Two of Hall's top contributors are Nevada County residents. Holly J. Taylor, of Penn Valley, donated $2,000. Holger R. Hahn, of Nevada City, also donated $2,000. Jill Soffer came in third, contributing $1,500. FEC documents list Soffer as a real estate developer from Santa Monica.

"I'm proud to be involved in a campaign that is 100 percent grassroots," Hall said. "I take my widespread appeal as a signal that I am accurately reflecting the needs of my potential constituents in this district.

"It's clear to me that I answer to the people in my district, and I don't have the dilemmas of being owned by corporations or PACs that may or may not agree with my positions on things."

Many of the Hall campaign's itemized individual contributions in the FEC database were routed through ActBlue, in Cambridge, Mass. ActBlue is an online fundraising platform founded in 2004 to connect Democratic contributor with candidates and causes.

According to their website, Hall has raised a total of $141,025 from more than 1,525 supporters. She says it's like a political version of PayPal, processing credit card payments from supporters.

"It's the most sophisticated online method that I'm aware of for donors," Hall said. "It's the more advanced way to finance campaigns, especially from small donors."

Thursday was the FEC's last filing deadline for this election cycle, covering the first two weeks of October. That information was not available by deadline.

To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email dbrooksher@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

NAME: Heidi Hall

AGE: 53

CURRENT CITY: Grass Valley

HOMETOWN: Pleasant Hill, CA

OCCUPATION: Program Manager, California Department of Water Resources

EDUCATION: BA in International Relations, Pomona College; MA in International Relations, Columbia University; MA in Public Policy, Rutgers University

FAMILY: Two children: Alex, 23 and Lukas, 19

WEBSITE: http://heidihallforcongress.com/

NAME: Doug LaMalfa

AGE: 54

CURRENT CITY: Richvale, CA

HOMETOWN: Richvale, CA

OCCUPATION: US Representative/ Farmer

EDUCATION: BA in Ag Business, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

FAMILY: Wife Jill and 4 children

WEBSITE: http://www.douglamalfa.com

What can Congress do to replace old, outdated aircraft for wildland firefighters?

Hall: “We can fund the purchase of new ones, and we should.”

LaMalfa: “By budgeting, and using perhaps military aircraft.”

Same Sex Marriage?

Hall: “(Government’s) role is to ensure there’s equality across the board.”

LaMalfa: “I believe our creator laid down marriage as between one man and one woman …”

Marijuana?

LaMalfa: “I think the further legalization of marijuana will be something that comes back to bite us in future years, and so any measure that would continue to keep it as a controlled substance I would support.”

Hall: “I’m very concerned that by not addressing the issue at all we are promoting the theft of water for these huge, illegal grows in forested lands, we’re seeing toxics go into our waterways, we’re promoting a gun culture and we’re not taking advantage of the tax income …”

Law enforcement obtaining an MRAP?

Hall: “I would like to see us send that thing back.”

LaMalfa: “I’m really more concerned about … the militarization of our federal agencies.”

State of Jefferson?

Hall: “I’m a proud northern Californian, and I don’t’ want to separate from the rest of the state.”

LaMalfa: “I like the concept, I don’t think we should get in the way of it.”

Other points of concern?

Hall: Voter turnout, congressional debate over Syria/Iraq

LaMalfa: Overregulation, ISIS, Ebola

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