Chico Enterprise Record
October, 6, 2014
We’ve said many times that serving in the state Legislature is not an entry-level job, but it still surprises us how often people run for a seat in the Legislature without any elected experience whatsoever.
In the race for State Assembly in District 3, the candidate with the most experience by far is also the youngest, making the choice of James Gallagher an easy one.
Gallagher is 33, a Sutter County supervisor, a farmer and an agricultural law attorney. He has been active in politics since he was a student at UC Berkeley and attended his first meeting of the campus Republican student group. There were only five people at that first meeting, he remembers, so he has experience being in the minority. That would serve Gallagher well if he’s sent to Sacramento, where Democrats rule the roost but Republicans have to find ways to work across the aisle to get things done.
Gallagher is running against Jim Reed, a frequent candidate who has yet to hold elected office. Reed, an attorney and a Democrat, ran for Congress against Wally Herger and Doug LaMalfa, losing each time. Last year he moved from Fall River Mills to Red Bluff, into the district of Dan Logue. Reed knew Logue was being ousted by term limits — he’s running for Congress — and the seat would be open.
Reed positioned himself well to make the final two, but in the Nov. 4 election of Gallagher vs. Reed, there’s still the inescapable fact that Reed has no record to run on.
Gallagher not only has experience on the Sutter County board, he also has worked in the Capitol. While in college, Gallagher served a year in Sacramento under an Assembly fellowship program, working for a new Assembly member named Doug LaMalfa.
Reed thinks he has a shot. Republicans have a registration advantage in the Assembly district, so Reed knows he’ll have to appeal to middle of the road voters. He does that by painting Gallagher as an “extremist” on such issues as climate change and abortion.
Gallagher doesn’t get sucked in to an unnecessary fight. When asked to list the three most compelling issues he would tackle as a legislator, he mentioned protecting north state water, helping communities cope with the problems on prison realignment, and jobs and economic development. He said social issues aren’t the big ones, and he’s right. A Republican in Sacramento has limited influence on most issues, so it’s best to focus on those that are important to the north state. Making our streets safer, our business climate better and our water safe from south-state raids are all areas where a rural legislator can have influence.
He has watched LaMalfa and Logue work with other legislators and agencies to get things done for the north state’s benefit. We think working with fellow Republican Brian Dahle in the Assembly, Gallagher will be a strong advocate for north state interests. He strikes us as a very bright young man who’s a good listener, which is much better than coming in as a freshman and shooting from the hip (or the lip).
Gallagher seems destined for a bright career. Of the two on the ballot, he has the seasoning and sensibility for the important job.