Sam Blakeslee, the San Luis oilman Californians just can’t trust, is trying to steal a victory in a state senate special election next week by posing as a moderate Republican environmentalist who loves sea otters even more than snowy plovers.
The blunt truth of the matter, however, may be found in 1) the lavish oil industry contributions shoveled into committees that have forked out more than $1 million to back Blakeslee’s play in the 15th State Senate district and 2) the photograph posted at the top of this story, which shows exactly where the San Luis Obispo GOP assemblyman stood on offshore oil drilling in California – before that whole Gulf of Mexico thing made it really, really unfashionable.
The ex-Republican assembly leader is locked in a fierce battle with former Democratic assemblyman John Laird for the seat representing a vast, coastal district that was held until recently by Lite Governor Abel Maldonado. It’s up for grabs in a special next Tuesday that Governor Schwarzmuscle carefully scheduled to benefit Blakeslee.
Laird just now is getting his brains beat in on TV, as BP, Chevron and other oil companies have rushed to finance pro-Blakeslee independent expenditure committees that are paying for a barrage of ads portraying the Democrat as a crazed socialist considerably to the left of Hugo Chavez.
As we predicted a year ago hardliner Blakeslee now is falsely positioning himself as a pro-green centrist, in an effort to capture a majority vote in the June 22 primary, which would make a scheduled August run-off unnecessary.
“I have been an environmental Republican throughout my service,” Blakeslee told Paul Rogers of the Mercury News. “I’ve never wavered on my protection of the coast.”
Excuse us while we build a tower big enough to hold our laughter.
In claiming he’s against offshore oil, Blakeslee tries to hide behind the skirts of a group of Santa Barbara environmentalists, who pitched the controversial Tranquillon Ridge offshore project, just off the coast of the southern end of the 15th SD, as a way to trade new drilling now for less in the future (for those who’ve been hanging out on Uranus for the last year, our primer on T-Ridge is here).
In truth, Blakeslee’s history on the issue is strongly at odds with the greens who originally co-sponsored the plan with the Houston-based oil company PXP; his record shows a drill-baby-drill determination to ram through the offshore project via a series of backdoor legislative schemes intended to overrun the opposition of the State Lands Commission, which rejected T-Ridge and which, oh yeah, for decades happens to have had sole jurisdiction over state oil leases.
After the lands commission turned down the project in 2009 – saying its promise to end future drilling was unenforceable because the power to do so ultimately resided with the scandal-ridden federal Minerals Management Service, Blakeslee plotted with fellow knuckledragger assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Orange County to end run the commission, a move that the enviros who originally backed the proposal categorically opposed.
First, the dynamic duo tried to pass AB23*, a DeVore bill that was gutted in the Senate and amended to approve PXP’s T-Ridge project by creating a special exemption and removing it from the jurisdiction of the lands commission.
On July 24, 2009, the measure was heatedly debated in the Assembly and defeated with only 30 of the house’s 80 members supporting the drilling plan.
Within hours, however, the official record of that vote was expunged, in what appeared to be a Blakeslee maneuver to remove his fingerprints from the pro-drilling bill. Despite the insistence of Blakeslee flacks that he had nothing to do with erasing the vote, the reliable Anthony York of Capitol Weekly shortly after the deal went down cited sources who traced the move to the then-Republican Assembly leader.
For those still pondering the mystery of that expunged vote, Calbuzz is pleased to provide an historic photo of it, which clearly shows Blakeslee among the small minority of those who backed the special interest legislation to expand drilling off the coast.
Two months later, Blakeslee was back at it, this time gutting one of his own bills in an effort have his way on behalf of the oil industry, which would have liked nothing more than to use T-Ridge as a foot in the door to overcome California’s four decade opposition to any new leases authorizing more drilling in state water.
It’s instructive that when Laird kicked off the 15th SD special election campaign by whacking Blakeslee on offshore drilling, the Republican a) began trying to finesse the issue by touting his purported environmental credentials and b) changed the subject, unloading a barrage of ads assailing Laird as a menace to society on fiscal issues.
Among other crimes, it seems, Laird accepted pay raises that, um, Blakeslee also took (Jon Coupal, the doctrinaire Howard Jarvis acolyte who’s plugging Blakeslee in the IE ads, might want to check out some of Sam’s squishier statements on tax increases here and here).
Then again, if Shady Sam is willing to masquerade his environmental record to get elected, why should anyone be surprised that he’d gussy himself up on other issues as well?
eMeg proves she has no shame: Guess who’s nowhere to be found on Meg Whitman’s new website Latinos for Meg or in her new Spanish language TV commercials? Former Gov. Pete Wilson, her campaign chairman and iconic diablo among Hispanics in California.
Gone is the “tough-as-nails” Meg Whitman who sternly warned “No amnesty. No exceptions” as she vowed to send the National Guard to the border, crack down on sanctuary cities and generally lower the boom on illegal immigrants.
As Calbuzz predicted a couple of weeks ago: Whitman, now desperate to capture Latino voters she didn’t give a rat’s ass about in the Republican primary, suddenly is all about jobs and opportunity, sunshine and inclusiveness. Oh puhleeeese. What a fraud.
The only uncertainty, as we noted before: “…we don’t know whether, by spending untold sums on campaign propaganda, Whitman will be able to obliterate the collective memory voters might otherwise have of her lurch to the right.”
Oh, and Meg dropped another $20 million into her war chest this week, bringing her personal “investment” to $91 million.
Now, Mariachi Meg is emphasizing that she was never for Proposition 187 (although its chief advocate is her campaign chairman) and she opposes Arizona’s check-their-status law. Maybe – after spending serious money to make the point that she opposes amnesty – she’ll go back to arguing for a guest worker program where people “stand at the back of the line and pay a fine.”
So far no one is up on TV countering Whitman’s hypocritical drive to round up Latino voters. But the Democratic Governor’s Association did create a 90-second video in Spanish called “Send Pete Packing.”
As Tenoch Flores, on behalf of the California Democratic Party, argued:
“Apparently Meg Whitman forgot that we live in the age of ‘the internets’ – ironic for someone who touts her eBay experience. She sincerely believes a Spanish language advertising buy is going to gloss over the fact that together with her mentor Pete Wilson, and her rival Steve Poizner, she engaged in the greatest Republican Party anti-immigrant hate-fest this side of the California-Arizona border.”
The CDP also reprised Meg’s “Tough as Nails” radio ad and even offered up a Spanish translation. Said Flores:
“Latino voters in California haven’t forgotten about Pete Wilson’s anti-immigrant crusade, and that was over ten years ago. They certainly won’t forget that Whitman used them as foil to get herself through the GOP primary less than a month ago.”
Unless Whitman’s beyond standard quantum limit spending can wipe away all memory.
* In an earlier version of this post we had a typo that labeled AB23 as AB32 — a super mix-up since AB32 is the famous climate-change bill.