Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
So Danny Gilmore spends years running for the Assembly—then decides in a few months he doesn’t like it and wants to quit? What gives?

–Confounded in Kingsburg

Dear Muddled Meatball,
As Barbie might put it, “Assemblymembering is hard.”

Or, to be a little more charitable, there’s a fine line between lacking a backbone and having a conscience.

I’m guessing Danny Gilmore’s problem is more of the latter variety. If he was an invertebrate, he never would have shown up for round two, election-wise. He got month after month of the piñata treatment on the rural airwaves back in 2006—and is there anything worse than a pretty lady constantly trashing you in front of your back?

He came back for more two years later and somehow pulled one out. To say that 2008 was a down year for Republicans is like saying 1912 was a bad time in the cruise ship industry. He faced a near 2-1 cash disadvantage (read: “Blindfold the next kid! Yeah, him, that 220 lb. Dominican little leaguer with no birth certificate.”), and still, there he was last January, the happiest resident the doghouse has seen in many moons.

Seems like a long time ago. It’s true, there’s nothing like a few months of committee meetings, legislative irrelevance and budget battles that would turn a vulture’s stomach to make you realize that the wind in your sails is just flatulence.

But, just maybe, it wasn’t the just Assemblymembering that got to him. Perhaps if he didn’t have to go through the election ego-grinder again so soon—with both a Parra and a Florez winding up to take a whack at his Tootsie Rolls—he wouldn’t feel like life near a stockyard was perfume compared to dos más años under the dome.

Which brings me, again, to term limits. Now I’m not going to make that old argument that there’s a limited number of people with the talent to be legislators. Whether that’s true or not, it’s not like the voters have much of a knack for spotting the ones that do.

No, what’s in limited in supply is people with the proper sickness. That masochistic need to be in the eye of a public whose two moods are 1. indifferent and 2. angry. The strange desire to sit there while every inmate in the asylum stands in line to say why you bill is the moral equivalent of giving Hitler a mud bath and shiatsu. The endless days and interminable hearings, the backstabbing, the cold pizza and warm scotch at 2 a.m. as you tried to hammer out yet another deal that might not survive ‘til morning.

I loved it all, of course. But I had the sickness, in spades. And it was another era, when you actually get something done. Not to mention I was near the center of power, not out in those distant suburbs where Gilmore lives. Whether he’s here in two years or not, it won’t make much of a difference in terms of how much legislation he passes. Heck, sometimes I think Mike Duvall knew his mic was on and was just looking for a way to ride his motorbike into the sunset.

Which brings me to another point. There seems to be steam gathering behind that initiative for a part-time legislature. People are saying it’s a way to “punish” our Senators and Assemblymembers. Talk about getting it backwards. I say if you really want to punish ‘em, make ‘em be here even more.

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