Senate Longshot Alby No Neophyte

OCT. 26, 2010


In state legislative races, there are several underdogs – those who have seemingly little chance to win the election, but are nevertheless giving the race a shot. Many of these folks are political neophytes.

Enter Barbara Alby, former assemblywoman (1993-1998) and current acting board member for the state Board of Equalization. Alby is no neophyte, but she is clearly the long shot in the race to fill former Sen. Dave Cox’s Senate District 1 seat. Cox passed away in July.

Asked why she set her sights on this race against two current assemblymen – Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, and Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks – Alby said she is responding the way so many people are right now because the state is in trouble. “I never intended to run,” said Alby. “But my opponents continue to look to government and tax increases for solutions.”

Alby said she knows that voters are sick of both Republicans and Democrats because they have been behaving so similarly. “I ran as an outsider in 1991, and still am the only conservative in the race,” said Alby. She said, “Regular people are thrilled with the push back, but political leaders are not happy.”

Alby described the Capitol as a club atmosphere. “Niello is part of the Downtown crowd,” said Alby. “But Sacramento is a big problem, and club memberships have no place in times like these.”

Alby said the California Republican Party has not been supportive of her race, but that was to be expected.

She wants to see the minority Republicans work harder at the Capitol, and “not give up on core principles, like limited government,” Alby said. “This is a steep hill to climb.”

Alby’s opponents, Assemblymen Gaines and Niello, are experienced politicians as well, both having risen from county supervisor positions to the Assembly. Alby said, “If one of them wins, it will just be more of the same.” Alby pointed out that she has signed the No new taxes pledge, “Niello refuses to sign the pledge, and Gaines says, ‘he will try.’”

As an acting member of the Board Of Equalization, Alby said her goal has been to give the board the ability to be more merciful with taxpayers. “California is a huge tax bureaucracy. Their answer to the revenue shortage is to take more money,” said Alby. “What we do on the board is supposed to settle legislation, but it doesn’t.” Alby has been concerned in the past with agencies like the BOE writing and making policy, and instead wants to see the Legislature do a better job with more clear intent in legislation.

Alby explained why she went to the BOE, and the importance of the board. “The five elected board members are your last hope when the government says you have a tax problem. If you lose your appeal at the board level, you actually have to pay all the taxes the government says you owe before you can file suit in court. California’s tax agencies have all the resources of the state at their disposal, even the power to empty your bank account, sell your home, or shut down your business — without a court order. The elected members of the board can stop them, so it really matters who casts those five votes.”

After Alby served three Assembly terms, she was termed out in 1998. She ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, to succeed long-time Democrat Vic Fazio in Sacramento’s 3rd district, but lost the Republican primary to Doug Ose by 20 points.

Alby has worked for years with her husband in his concrete contracting business. “I understand how it is for regular people. Small business people are holding up the universe,” Alby said.

Alby believes that people are looking for politicians who are more like them — “real people suffering under the same burden,” said Alby.

Alby has an even more “real” experience than most elected officials. She is a former welfare mom. “When Ronald Reagan became governor, he cut welfare benefits.” Alby said she was very angry with Reagan for the cuts. “But, as a result, it turned around my thinking and I focused how to get off of welfare. And I have a heart for the poor,” said Alby.

Alby said she used to be ashamed about that part of her life. “But one day on the floor of the Assembly when legislators were bantering back and forth about welfare benefits, I realized I knew first-hand what they were actually talking about, and could speak up,” she said.

From that point on, Alby used her personal experience to help legislators understand the impact of their decisions, which she said has created dependence by multi-generational families on welfare. Alby was one of the Assembly members that worked to pass California’s welfare reform, helping to move people from dependence on government, “to independence and self sufficiency.”

“Every institution is failing us, but we have a window of opportunity right now,” she said. “Even Democrats are suffering. People need messengers to work for them.”

Regardless of the outcome of the election, Alby said she would continue to work with the Tea Party. “The Tea Party is making headway speaking for the regular people,” said Alby. “Voters are better informed this election.”


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  1. Janey
    Janey 27 October, 2010, 09:08

    Alby “went” to the BOE shortly before she ran for the 2d District BOE seat in the June primary. That’s June 2010, four months ago. (As chief deputy to BOE member Bill Leonard, she didn’t have to go far.) Alby lost that race, despite being able to use the BOE title as her ballot designation. Hard to see her as an “outsider”.

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  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 27 October, 2010, 09:29

    I spoke with Jon Fleishman who said he’s a longtime friend and associate of the conservative Alby. Fleishman is Vice Chairman of the California Republican Party, and clarified that the party does not endorse candidates of the same party during a primary. Fleishman also reported that he recently ran video of Assemblyman Ted Gaines signing the “No Tax” pledge, on the Flash Report.

    -Katy Grimes

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