Ashton: Candidate's statement triggers a double take

Campaign season's climbing to full speed, and so are these dots ...

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS ... Senate candidate Bret de St. Jeor is telling reporters and editors at The Bee that incumbent Republican Sen. Dave Cogdill encouraged him to run for office and even offered to help with fund raising.

That triggers a double take because Cogdill endorsed de St. Jeor's opponent, Assemblyman Tom Berryhill. They're competing with three others in a Republican primary for Cogdill's seat.

De St. Jeor is running to Berryhill's right, along with the others.

Cogdill spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart said the tête-à-tête happened, but Cogdill didn't pledge to throw his weight behind de St. Jeor. She characterized the meeting as informational, with de St. Jeor considering different political offices.

Cogdill "talked generally" about politics, Lockhart said. "He's been a longtime Berryhill supporter." ...

GRABBING THE MANTLE ... GOP candidates in the six-way competition for Berryhill's Assembly seat are clamoring for an edge. Modesto City Councilwoman Kristin Olsen says she has one, having pulled ahead in fund raising by about $30,000 since March. That gives her about $100,000 for the campaign.

That's a lead, but she has to spread the money around the district's five counties while shoring up the base. I'm not smart enough to pick a front-runner in that race, not with former Modesto City Councilwoman Janice Keating splitting Modesto between she and Olsen. ...

GET READY TO RUMBLE ... Sheriff Adam Christianson and his challenger, Turlock Police Capt. Rob Jackson, face off in three debates in four days this week.

Jackson has some momentum following a missive from the Sheriff's Department patrol deputies union, which criticized Christianson last week for sending mixed messages about layoffs. That union is backing Jackson, while the department's custodial deputy union is in Christianson's camp.

"One of the most frequent complaints I get is from people wanting to know if they will have a job," said patrol union Vice President Ryan Killian. "I don't know what to tell them because until very recently we have not been informed as to where the cuts would come from."

The candidates are making their cases tonight at the Oakdale Senior Center. It's a double bill with a forum for six candidates running for a judgeship. It starts at 5:30 p.m. at the center, 450 E. A St.

Sheriff's candidates meet again at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto, with the League of Women Voters. And, they finish the sessions at noon Thursday with the Latino Community Roundtable at the Alliance, 1020 10th St., Modesto. That one costs $10. ...

HAIL MARY ... The longtime leaders of Stanislaus County's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union are looking for new blood.

"Stanislaus ACLU chapter leadership is decimated, exhausted, needing a few people to pick up the torch," wrote member Fred Herman.

He and his colleagues have stood up against police abuse and spoken for a nearly censored belly-dancing program at the Stanislaus County Library. Like a number of the county's left-leaning groups, the ACLU chapter seems to be in a transition. We'll see the results of those changes in the next year or so.

It's meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, at the Salida Library, 4835 Sisk Road, near Kiernan Avenue. ...

PIT STOP ... Democratic Assemblyman Alberto Torrico of Fremont swung through town Wednesday to catch up with Modesto progressives at the Harvest Moon. He's running for attorney general in a crowded and well-financed field.

His pitch: fight crime with better education. To him, that means making sure low-income school districts get as much cash per pupil as wealthy ones, and creating incentives for inmates to improve themselves behind bars.

"If we want to make our communities safer, then we have to educate our kids," he said.

His visit was a reminder that Democrats are voting, too, on June 8. That's easy to forget without a competitive gubernatorial contest for Democrats on the ballot, or any headline- grabbing legislative races for that party in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

"It's a Democratic primary and we're trying to get Democrats mobilized," Torrico said at the Modesto stop.

Bee Assistant City Editor Adam Ashton can be reached at or 578-2366.