Dem, GOP candidates in state Senate runoff for Placer representation

District 4 voters to decide Jan. 8 between Jim Nielsen and Mickey Harrington
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Voters in a portion of Placer County that includes parts of North Auburn and Meadow Vista as well as Lincoln, Rocklin and Loomis will have a chance to go to the polls again Jan. 8 for a special election to choose a new state senator.

The District 4 special election follows the resignation of state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, (R-Richvale) before his run for the District 1 congressional seat to replace Wally Herger. LaMalfa won that election Nov. 6.

LaMalfa’s resignation resulted in a six-candidate race to replace him that left the two top vote-getters – Assembly member Jim Nielsen and labor leader Michael “Mickey” Harrington – in a two-candidate runoff.

Nielsen, R-Gerber, barely missed avoiding a runoff after polling 49.8 percent of the vote in the sprawling district, which covers the eastern side of Northern California from Placer to Shasta counties. He needed a majority to win the Nov. 6 election outright. Nielsen’s vote total in Placer was 50.35 percent.

Harrington, the lone Democrat on the Nov. 6 ballot, polled 27.7 percent of the vote. In Placer County, his vote total was 26.61 percent.

The voting was skewed by the sudden decision by the other Republican candidate Dan Logue, to withdraw from the District 4 election before Nov. 6 and endorse Nielsen. That didn’t stop 11.5 percent of voters from casting their ballots for a non-candidate. Logue, R-Loma Rica, won the District 3 Assembly seat he continued to campaign for.

Harrington, 73, of Magalia, ran and lost in 2006, 2008 and 2010 elections for the District 3 Assembly seat before seeking the Senate seat in the primary, and now the Jan. 8 special election.

Harrington said he has the endorsement of his party but it has provided no funding for his campaign.

“I’m kind of a progressive (Democrat) and basically a labor guy,” Harrington said. “I’m not one to blow all the money the state had.”

Nielsen, a self-described fiscal conservative who has 16 years of experience as a legislator in Sacramento, said that he chose to not run for re-election in Assembly District 2 because of the $2 million in estimated costs for a special election in the event he won the Senate seat and had to resign from the Assembly.

“The California state budget is still in a huge mess,” Nielsen said. “Both the process and the budget itself can’t be fixed by simply funding the budget with tax increases.”

The 68-year-old Gerber resident said he would run for re-election in 2014 for the redistricted District 4 seat if he is elected in January. Del Norte, Shasta and Siskiyou counties are being removed and parts of Carmichael and Rancho Cordova are to be added. The current special election is for a two-year term to serve out the last half of LaMalfa’s four-year term.

Butte and Shasta County voters currently comprise almost half of the registrations for the 4th Senate District. Shasta County (100,256 voters), Butte County (122,554) and Placer County (87,622) make up the largest voting blocks.

The district also includes all or portions of: Colusa (7,766 registered voters), Del Norte (12,520), Glenn (12,556), Nevada (51,361), Siskiyou (25,872), Sutter (42,194), Tehama (31,174), Trinity (8,046) and Yuba (30,115) counties.

Placer County’s election division has estimated that the cost for the special election should run about $211,000, within the county. Plans are to keep expenditures within the current budget.