Ted Gaines was sworn into the California Senate last week, succeeding Dave Cox who succumbed to prostate cancer in July.
By taking on the Senate job, Gaines leaves vacant the 4th Assembly seat for which he was re-elected to just two months ago, and he sets into motion an expensive special election that will cost Placer County $850,000, according to the Placer County Registrar of Voters office. (That figure doesn’t include the other three counties that are included in the 4th Assembly District, and thus will also participate in the special election.)
Ted Gaines could have chosen to stay in the Assembly and finish his third and final term through November 2012, thereby avoiding a second special election.
But he didn’t.
Instead he ran for Assembly and Senate — although in Gaines’ defense, his name was already on the ballot for Assembly when Cox died. Still, Gaines could have backed down from the Senate race and finished his Assembly term – obviously to save taxpayers money, but also to take the road less traveled by elected officials who overwhelmingly put the needs of self before the needs of the community.
Americans could use a political hero right now and Gaines missed an opportunity to be one.
Instead, like many other politicians before him, Gaines couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ascend to another elected office – especially in the era of term limits, which meant he would be out of a political job in 2012 and with little-to-no chance of beating an incumbent senator that same year when the Senate seat becomes open again. He surely could have returned to the private sector, specifically his insurance company, to earn a living and let someone else have a turn at serving the people in the Assembly.
Now Gaines will finish Cox’s term through 2012 and have the legal right to run again for two more 4-year terms. With the incumbency of office and as a member of the Republican Party in the super conservative 1st Senate District, he will surely serve as a California senator through 2020.
His move to run for the Senate was politically shrewd and paid off for him, but created yet another burden taxpayers will have to shoulder in these tough economic times.
Placer County Online