A crowd of about 120 to 150 filtered through Alfonso's Mexican Restaurant for three hours on Tuesday evening, Oct. 21 to help support Adam Gray in his re-election bid for state Assembly.
Gray is considered the favorite in the race for the 21st Assembly District. He is being challenged by Republican Merced businessman Jack Mobley who lost to Gray in 2012 by a nearly 10 percentage point margin.
Gray visited with supporters at the Ceres venue, talking to them about the upcoming election and about legislation. Members of the Condit family, whom Gray married into when he married Caddie Condit, daughter of former Congressman Gary Condit, were in full force at the event. Members of the public who paid $10 to dine at the event included Councilmember Ken Lane and Vice Mayor Bret Durossette.
Also there was Faye Lane, a member of the Ceres Unified School District board of trustees who filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission alleging that Republicans were illegally money laundering funds into Mobley's campaign account for mailers slamming Gray.
Johnny Alvarado, Mobley's campaign manager, denied any coordination "whatsoever between our campaign and the (independent expenditures). This is a fabricated complaint by the Gray campaign to divert the voters' attention away from the real issue here: his FPPC fines."
His reference was to a FPPC investigation that fined Gray $2,000 for failing to report free rounds of golf given to his 2012 campaign. The donation was made by the Yocha Dehe tribe, which was fined $9,000 for failing to report the gift.
Lane filed the FPPC complaint on Thursday. By that day Republicans had funneled $325,000 into Mobley's campaign. As of Oct. 20 the GOP amount had grown to $497,000.
State law does not allow that amount in direct contributions but both parties have been known to skirt the law with independent expenditures. Those types of expenditures may not be coordinated between campaigns and parties.
Lane said billionaire Charles Munger is the source of Mobley's sudden campaign help. Sources peg a quarter of all GOP campaign money in California - $13 million to be exact - as coming from Munger.
The last-minute GOP money has pushed Mobley's campaign strength to $565,227, which includes $68,227 raised prior to Sept. 30. Gray's campaign generated $389,600 as of Sept. 30.
If Gray is re-elected to a second two-year term, he will be eligible to run five more times. Term limits allow him to spend up to 12 years in either the Assembly or Senate.
The Nov. 4 general election which includes choices for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, controller, treasurer and congress, contains few local races for Ceres.
Hughson registered voters will be electing a mayor, however only Matt Beekman is on the ballot. Three candidates are seeking two open seats on the Hughson City Council. Appointed incumbent Harold "Bud" Hill and incumbent George Carr are running as is challenger Billy Gonzales.
Voters in Congressional District 10 will be deciding either to send Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, back to Washington or send Turlock beekeeper and Democrat Michael Eggman in his place.
Two local state Assembly races and two state Senate races will be decided next week.
State Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, is being challenged by Shawn K. Bagley, a Monterey Democrat, in the District 12 Senate contest.
Voters in Hughson and Keyes who are in the state Assembly District 12, will have to decide to either keep Modesto Republican Kristin Olsen or replace her with Harinder Grewal of Keyes, an agricultural export specialist and CSUS economics lecturer.
State Senator Tom Berryhill, who is currently in District 8 but running in the newly created District 8, is seeking election against Paulina Miranda, a Democrat. Berryhill grew up in Ceres. The new district will be vast in geography and while including Hughson, Turlock, Oakdale and Waterford, will also stretch from Rancho Cordova and Mammoth Lakes all the way down to Death Valley and Bishop.
California will be making a number of choices as to who will take state offices. Running for governor are incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican businessman Neel Kashkari.
Gavin Newsom, California's Democratic lieutenant governor, is being challenged by Ron Nehring, a San Diego County Republican. Newsom is seen as a shoo-in.
California State Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Ronald Gold, a former deputy attorney general. During the primary election in June, Harris won with 53.1 percent of the vote, followed by Gold with 12.7 percent.
In the Secretary of State race, Democratic state senator Alex Padilla is being challenged by Pete Peterson, a Republican who is the executive director of the Davenport Institute.
Seeking the office of state controller are Ashley Swearengin, the Republican mayor of Fresno and Alameda Democrat Betty Yee who is a member of the state Board of Equalization.
Current state controller John Chiang is running as a Democrat for the office of state treasurer against Greg Conlon, a Republican CPA who is a senior partner in a Big Five accounting firm.
Running for insurance commissioner are Democrat Dave Jones, and Republican Ted Gaines.
George Runner, the incumbent sitting in the District 1 Board of Equalization seat, is being challenged by Democrat Chris Parker.