Audra Strickland,  CA-26,  Julia Brownley,  Linda Parks,  Tony Strickland

CA-26: Is NPP – No Party Preference a Passing Fad in California Elections?

Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks and Congressional candidate

Allen Hoffenblum, a ling time California political consultant, pundit and author asks the question.

But the NPP candidate that will get the closest attention is Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, who is running for Congress in an open district (CD26) where GOP state Sen. Tony Strickland and Democratic Asm. Julia Brownley are running (three other Democrats are also expected to be on the ballot).

Parks is a moderate Republican who has long feuded with the area’s hard-core conservative activists. In her Nov. 2010 race for reelection to the Board of Supervisors, Park’s opponent was former Asm. Audra Strickland, wife of Tony. Though both were registered Republicans, the state GOP got involved, donating $50,000 to the Audra Strickland campaign. Parks, however, won, 61% – 39%.

Statewide, independent voters – which the Secretary of State now labels as No Party Preference – comprise 21 percent of the electorate, just nine percent behind the Republican statewide registration of 30%.

How well Parks performs in the June Primary may well determine if state voters, in sufficient numbers, are ready to cast a vote for an individual without a political party label.

If she does well, along with continued increase in NPP registration and the continued decrease in GOP registration, the NPP label may evolve into being the serious “third party” alternative so many voters have been clamoring for.

Linda Parks has been really a Democrat cloaked in a Republican registration for many years. Parks supporters have always been from a anti-business, slow-growth populist constituency. She never before has run for a partisan office, nor one based out of her geographical base of Thousand Oaks.

When Parks beat former GOP Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, she beat a carpetbagger POL who had to move into the Ventura County Supervisorial District to challenge Parks. And, the incumbent supervisor had the overwhelming support of the Democrats and the Ventura County Public Employee Unions in the district.

A smaller (smaller than a Congressional District) Supervisorial District, a challenger who was absent from the district most of the time and who was from Moorpark (not Thousand Oaks, where all of the voters are) aided Parks in her re-election effort.

The top two and partisan June Primary election will be a whole different type of election.

The Democrats will have a candidate in Assemblywoman Julia Brownley and will throw resources behind her.

The Ventura County Employee Unions, a Democratic supporting constituency will have to stay either neutral or support both of them.

Campaign contributions for Parks will be harder to obtain ( Democrats and Republicans should tap more sources of special interest money) and she will need to communicate to other areas of the Congressional District – stretching campaign resources, especially to respond to attacks from the Dems and GOP.

I think Linda Parks will be lucky to be in the top two in June and go forward to the November general election.

But, she has surprised before….