Ashton: Riverbank councilman's outlaw image appears badly timed

Three, two, one, catch my dots ...

ON EVERYBODY'S RADAR -- Assembly candidate Jesse James White's decision to link his campaign materials to outlaw gunman Jesse James now looks rather unfortunate.

He's asking for money in a mailer in which he says he's running for state office to promote "personal responsibility."

"I am an independent conservative sticking to my guns for less taxes, less government, personal responsibility and your Second Amendment right to keep your guns, too," he declares.

That pledge fell through a week ago when sheriff's deputies searched the Riverbank councilman's home and turned up cocaine and marijuana.

Instead of taking responsibility for his own actions, White's trying to blame an alleged conspiracy involving city and county officials.

His flier also curiously says the 21-year-old has "experience far beyond" that of his opponents. Those would be the five candidates who have

much longer records in public office than White.

Since we're playing with guns, I'll take this opportunity to point out that White's wounds are self-inflicted. ...

DELETE THAT POST! Republican congressional candidate Mike Berryhill was friendly to White on Facebook earlier this month, asking to set up a campaign photo with the young candidate.

"You so much remind me of me when I was your age," wrote Berryhill, the former Turlock Irrigation District director who is challenging Merced Democrat Dennis Cardoza in the 18th Congressional District.

In an e-mail, Berryhill clarified that he supports former Turlock Councilman Kurt Vander Weide, one of White's opponents, in the 25th Assembly District.

"I wrote (White) about a week before he had these problems. It is inspiring to see younger people getting involved and trying to make a difference. I know the excitement when you're young of stepping up to do something for the community, and I've enjoyed watching his campaign in that regard," Berryhill said. ...

PAT ON THE BACK FROM THE BIG GUY -- Patty Hughes, a Riverbank planning commissioner and go-to organizer for Stanislaus County Democrats, gets to meet President Barack Obama this week at a San Francisco fund-raiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Hughes was picked by Organizing for America, Obama's campaign arm, to meet the president because of her work on the ground. She wants to nudge him to visit the San Joaquin Valley.

"We just have to keep carrying it through. Most of these Democrats here don't realize we won and they keep thinking they're under the stronghold of the Republican Party here," she said.

KILLING WITH KINDNESS -- Former Modesto City Councilman Bill Conrad's 2006 run for the 25th Assembly District was marked by a notorious campaign gaffe -- a mailer he sent out implying that Tom Berryhill, who underwent a heart transplant in 2000, didn't have the heart for the job.

That predictably backfired, but Conrad seemed to learn from the mistake.

He and the other five candidates in the race aren't knocking each other in their advertisements, instead focusing on their own accomplishments and goals. That holds from former Modesto Councilwoman Janice Keating's 59-page campaign book "Words and Deeds" to current Modesto Councilwoman Kristin Olsen's slate of mailers. Conrad's mailers highlight his recent service in the Army in Afghanistan and his commitment to fiscal restraint.

It's a different story in the 19th Congressional District, where the four Republican candidates are drawing blood, mainly with state Sen. Jeff Denham of Atwater on the offensive against former U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy and former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson.

"NO Ethics. NO Local Support. Just Smears," a Denham ad says under a Pombo picture.

"We are witnessing one of the most negative political campaigns in local history," the same mailer says.

Hello pot, I'd like you to meet my friend the kettle.

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