It was 2016. A man I knew and respected had stepped up to run for Assembly when the local electeds were all passing on the deal. Bill Halldin knew he’d have an uphill battle for the AD06 Race. It was a Melee. 11 People filed.
Kiley had been running for AD06 for about 6 months before most of the other top-line candidates entered. Cristi Nelson was the first in the race, she put a substantial amount of her own money in. She also tried to make moves to clear the field. That appeared to have the opposite effect.
Cristi Beckstead Nelson was joined by Suzanne Jones. There were two democrats, Z’Berg and perennial candidate Brian Caples. There was a bonus speed bump running as an NPP known as “Bo”. Then the tropical depression joined the race. We were also graced with have a “Mik” and a smile. Not to be outdone, Andy Pugno, the author of Prop 8 joined the race on the very last day of filing.
Kevin Kiley was the x-factor the entire time.
Beckstead-Nelson was trying to run as Cristi Nelson, knowing the hyphenated name would not play well. (She never fixed her voter registration) It was also clear she sanitized her internet presence as it was terribly difficult to find information on her. She ultimately did well at the ballot box, largely because she was the only female with resources.
Kevin Hanley, inexplicably spent $130,000 of his own money and made about every rookie mistake possible. He called himself the Hurricane, I called him a Tropical Depression.
Bill Halldin, while having the endorsements that mattered, could not overcome his lack of name ID and the connections to the establishment in a Donald Trump dominated election. He was also later in to the race than most of the other combatants.
Kevin Kiley supported John Kasich, but the electorate did not know that. He looked like the Donald Trump of the AD06 Race.
The Ted Cruz of the race was Andy Pugno. Luis Buhler, the puppetmaster of Billionaire donor Charles T Munger Jr. hates Andy Pugno for writing proposition 8. It has been my 20+ year experience with him that he detests social conservatives, especially leaders who make an impact. It turns out that Pugno was the most viable opponent to Kevin Kiley. Buhler would play a key role.
Kiley’s strategy was simple. Since he had a huge head start on the other candidates, he camped out in Sun City Lincoln and Sun City Roseville. Both of these communities because of their turnout represented a disproportionate share of the vote. Kiley said that he knocked on 8,000 doors. It is clear at least 2/3 of those were in the Sun Cities as he won them both by large margins.
Kiley spent a lot of time in El Dorado County. Todd White, the current Chair of the ELDO GOP was helped in to office by Kiley. Kiley finished a close second to Brian Caples in El Dorado County. Most of what few endorsements Kiley had were from El Dorado County.
He also walked strategically targeted partial precincts. Similar to what Scott Alvord did when running for Roseville City Council in the fall of 2016, Kiley would walk the main thoroughfares of a precinct and place as many signs as he could along the high traffic side streets. It created an appearance of stronger support than he had.
Even in 2019, Kiley has spent more time in Universities (Ivy League at that) than his entire work history. He was able to milk the Deputy District Attorney Title to distinguish himself from the field. He also had Pete Wilson by virtue of one of the relationships he had developed in San Francisco.
In 2016, Kiley’s Campaign did the exact same thing they are doing in 2019. They are trying to create the appearance that Kiley is the top Republican Choice, with words implying party-wide support that is not present. It is not a half-bad strategy to try and get votes.
Unfortunately for Kiley in 2019, Rex Hime has Pete Wilson in his corner as Hime actually worked for Wilson.
Kevin Kiley is weak on the Immigration Issue, running from it in public several times. Yet, he has pivoted off of the Law and Order Issue to Immigration. Since the Republican Party Leadership in California believes President Trump to be toxic, I am not expecting any candidate to light Kiley up for his allegiance to the trump-hating John Kasich. They Should.
In 2016, Kiley had something like $300,000 bundled for him by a plethora of wealthy donors from the Bay Area. Some have donated to him again in 2019. One of the Donors ran a late, furious $500,000 independent expenditure in 2016 to support Mr. Kiley. This certainly affected the outcome.
In 2016, the aforementioned Luis Buhler directed $250K in to Bill Halldin before halting that effort with 3 weeks to go. At the same time, they dropped nearly $1,000,000 in attacking Andy Pugno with media and 9(!) pieces of mail. Amazing things happen when you are a zealot and have a wealthy benefactor in the case of Luis Buhler. I’ve written extensively about Buhler’s meddling in Republican Races, including spending millions on County Party Races attacking Conservatives.
It literally was the intervention of the 1%ers with unreal amounts of money that propelled Kiley in to the Assembly.
In 2019, there is no Luis Buhler spending Charles Munger’s money to hunt conservatives. Munger cut off the money in 2018. He only ran a smaller amount of money on behalf of former Assemblymember Catherine Baker who lost in 2018.
In 2019, it appears Kiley’s friends in the Bay Area are not giving him as much as they did in 2016. This dynamic must have been anticipated, which is why Mr. Kiley hoarded his money and refused to help colleagues in the 2018 shellacking. Brian Dahle started from near zero versus the $400k Kiley hoarded and has now drawn the score even.
It is also interesting to see the dynamic among Kiley and Dahle’s colleagues. Most have not endorsed, appearing to reward Kiley’s strategy of self-serving versus team play. I take notice of these things, because they aggregate to tell the story of the endemic lack of leadership in the CAGOP at large. What incentive is there to lead and be a team player when no good deed goes unpunished?
The lack of moral clarity leads us to our next installment in the Tour-De-Kiley. Just what does he believe?
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