Politics is a funny thing. Quite often, candidates lose their first election and come back to win something else later. Sometimes, due to the miracles of modern
science fundraising, a political career that has been left for dead is returned to life.
And sometimes, sometimes, a person who was recalled from an obscure California sewer board in 2005 ends up as the odds-on favorite to win a seat in the Iowa Legislature. Oh you mean this is the first time that’s happened?
In case you thought the Kent Sorensen fiasco was over, it isn’t. The special election to fill his Senate seat was won by then-Rep Julian Garrett, which means today there is a special election to fill that seat. Yes that is happening today. If you haven’t heard of this, its because the seat covers places you’ve never been, mainly Madison County and mostly rural parts of Warren County, plus Norwalk. Also, given the partisan makeup of the district, it is assumed whoever has the (R) after their name will be the winner. Which not coincidentally, is why you’ve never been there. Because some people there can’t remember if the right to bear arms is from the 2nd Amendment or the 2nd Commandment. Its a gray area.
I digress. In early December, Republicans nominated Stan Gustafson as their candidate. Yes, such is the state of politics in rural Iowa that the most agreeable candidate was the one who might actually be a character from Grumpy Old Men.
That’s not to discount Gustafson’s experience – he is a Vietnam veteran who has rightly pointed out his volunteer work with many different veterans organizations. What he didn’t point out, however, until the Des Moines Register dug it up last week, is that he previously served as president of the Los Osos Community Service District (LOCSD) in California’s San Luis Obispo County. And by previously I mean less than a decade ago.
His reluctance to bring that up is understandable given that he was voted out in a recall election midway through his second term. Why is this relevant, you may ask. Well, the sewer issue that spawned his recall is actually still going on. In fact, the “Los Osos Sewer Controversy” has its own section on Wikipedia. Voters were so angry with the construction project Gustafson approved that they cancelled it via referendum in the same election where he was recalled. Buuuut the state of California has since ordered a similar (and far more expensive) project to move ahead anyway. Nine years later, this project is actually now so big it has its own website. Yes. The plan to build a sewer for an unincorporated community of just 14,000 people has its own website and Twitter feed. The sewer controversy has become sentient. Pardon my language (and the pun) but that is some crazy shit.
Frankly, “left California before the sewer monster ate the whole town” is a display of more common sense than most political candidates have, so give Gustafson credit there. But since this election is ultimately caused by Kent Sorensen’s trail of sleazery, it would have been nice to be up front about everything from the get-go.