Michael Reagan backs maverick write-in Assembly challenger

by CalWatchdog Staff | November 3, 2012 8:21 pm

Nov. 4, 2012

By Katy Grimes


How does an unknown write-in candidate for Assembly in a June primary earn a spot on the November ballot? And gain the endorsement[2] of Michael Reagan, the radio talk show host and eldest son of Ronald Reagan?

Ask J.D. Bennett, the June Primary Republican write-in candidate who won one of the top two places in the race for the 31st Assembly District in Fresno. Obviously, J.D. likes the new top-two open primary[3] system.

Who is JD Bennett?

Bennett, a retired Marine and newly retired 26-year law enforcement officer, said that he was disgusted by California’s increasing deficit, drop in education scores, the unfriendly business ratings, closing businesses, exodus out-of-state, and the political business-as-usual attitude in Sacramento. He said that he decided to be the regular guy to run for statewide office.

Before you think that Bennett is just another retired cop with nothing but time on his hands, and a sweet pension in his pocket, Bennett said that he was considered a rabble rouser for refusing to allow his police unions to use his monthly membership dues for their political candidates and contributions.

The California Correctional Police Officers Association and the California Correctional Supervisors Organization, the public employee unions representing police officers and law enforcement supervisors, use member dues to help fund  the massive political machine in California. Between 2000 and 2010, the CCPOA spent more[4] than $30 million in California on lobbying and political contributions, mostly on Democratic candidates and incumbents.

Bennett said that he didn’t want any part of that, and opted instead to pay into the CCPOA Fair Share[5] program, which cut his benefits, but gave him the peace of mind that he wasn’t condoning or participating in union politics. And Bennett recruited many other officers to do the same.

But the Fair Share isn’t exactly fair. Fair Share members[6] are not entitled to the CCPOA legal defense fund or medical benefits. Opting out of the union is not as easy as or fair as supporters would have everyone believe.

After Bennett retired from law enforcement, he continued to pay dues to both unions. But neither union would endorse him for Assembly; they endorsed the Democratic incumbent.

Bennett vs. Perea

Bennett is running against incumbent Assemblyman Henry R. Perea,[7] D-Fresno. But Perea isn’t the only Henry Perea in Fresno. Perea’s father is Henry T. Perea[8], a former city councilman and now a Fresno County Supervisor.

Prior to his election to the state Assembly, Henry R. Perea served on the Fresno City Council from 2003-2010, starting at the age of 25. Perea ran for Fresno mayor, but lost to Ashley Swearengin. Then Perea ran for the Assembly.

Several of Bennett’s campaign volunteers told me that when Perea ran for Assembly, his signs only said, “Henry Perea for Assembly.” With his father in local politics for so many years, many people apparently thought they were voting for Henry Perea Sr., and felt duped when they realized that it was Henry Perea Jr. who won the Assembly seat.

Bennett said that he knows he is running an uphill race, but has been walking his district every day and knocking on the doors of many Democratic households who say they want and expect a big change in Sacramento.

What’s different about Bennett?

Bennett said he has walked so much he has lost 30 pounds since the campaign started. “I talk to Democratic households and at least one in five tells me that they’ve already voted for me,” Bennett said. “They know that Henry Perea is a career politician and part of the Democratic political machine that got California into this crisis.”

Bennett said that, while he is running as a Republican, he knows there are too many big government Republicans whose politics helped usher in Democrat policies.

“What’s really missing in the political realm is statesmanship,” Bennett said. “Democrats and Republicans can work together, and some have good ideas. But too many Democrats are sheeple who just follow the leader. They don’t pay attention to the details.”

Bennett tells the constituents of the 31st Assembly District, “I’m a citizen just like you.” And he said he lets people know the differences between the two candidates: “Henry Perea is a part of the political machine that has made the cuts to education, approved the High-Speed Rail, has allowed the Central Valley agricultural land to dry up, and voted to allow criminals to be let back into our communities.”

Bennett wants to repeal AB 109[9], Gov. Jerry Brown’s bill for the “realignment” of prisoners from the state to the counties. Bennett said AB 109[9] is not a sincere attempt to overhaul the prison system in California. “Lacking the political guts to make any real improvements and corrections to the prisons, the governor passed the buck to county government,” Bennett said.

“We are all Californians who should care about our water policies, power and utilities, transportation, realignment and law enforcement,” said Bennett. “But we need people who are subject experts. I plan to surround myself with these experts to make the changes Californians are begging for.”

Bennett has received endorsements from an impressive list of Republicans including Rep. Tom McClintock, Sen. Doug LaMalfa, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, Rep. Devin Nunes and Michael Cardenas, the former Director of Small Business Administration for President Reagan.

As the only statewide candidate to receive an endorsement from Michael Reagan, Bennett said he doesn’t take that endorsement lightly.

“I have endorsed J.D. Bennett for the 31st Assembly District because I believe he has the tenacity to stand up for the people of California,” Reagan said in his endorsement. “Like my father, Ronald Reagan said, ‘Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things.’ Career politicians in Sacramento have over taxed, over regulated and have deteriorated our education system. J.D. will stand against career politicians and fight to change the established way of doing things for the people of California. JD is the right choice for Sacramento.”

  1. [Image]: http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/11/03/michael-reagan-backs-maverick-write-in-assembly-challenger/jd1/
  2. endorsement: http://www.jdbennettforassembly.com/endorsements
  3. top-two open primary: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/2012-elections/june-primary/pdf/new-open-primary-info.pdf
  4. spent more: http://www.fppc.ca.gov/reports/Report31110.pdf
  5. Fair Share: http://www.ccpoabtf.org/FairShare/pgm_fairshare-v3.html
  6. members: http://www.ccpoabtf.org/FairShare/pgm_fairshare-v3.html
  7. Assemblyman Henry R. Perea,: http://asmdc.org/members/a31/
  8. Henry T. Perea: http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/DepartmentPage.aspx?id=15361
  9. AB 109: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/AB_109/20112012/

Source URL: https://calwatchdog.com/2012/11/03/michael-reagan-backs-maverick-write-in-assembly-challenger/