Not That You Asked

Good ‘ol boy on horns of dilemma?

There’s just something you’ve got to like, even admire, about a maverick, a garrulous charmer who may bend a rule now and again to achieve what he and his followers would agree is a worthwhile end, like winning an election.
Who among us, for example, thinks all that much less of, say, incorrigible bank robber Willie Sutton who, asked why he did it, was quoted as replying, “Because that’s where the money is.”
Sutton also posed the question rhetorically in his 1976 autobiography. The passage, as found in Wikipedia, goes, “Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job.”
This, all by way of making a point about the life-giving power of doing what you love. But far be it for me to draw any analogies between Willie — the cops dubbed him that; he preferred “Bill” — and any politician, local or national or global, whether he’s ever robbed a bank or not.
But I digress. The topic for today was to be one Bill Horn, the San Diego county supervisor from North County who faces the first challenge to his supremacy since the five-way primary he won by 4 percentage points in 1994 that swept him to the board, where he’s been ever since. This Bill Horn, he looks like he really enjoys himself being a politician and it looks like elective office really makes him feel alive. If so, it’s all the more imperative he prevail in this assault on his electoral fortress, the first since he withstood that ‘90s primary.
Suddenly, though having garnered fewer than half the votes that Horn did in June, this Steve Gronke, a Vista schoolteacher and member of the City Council there, has become a darling of the considerable — or at least vocal — opposition. Could he get the votes in November that did not go Horn’s way in June?
The facts are that Horn got some 47 percent of all votes cast in the primary to Gronke’s 21 percent. Three other challengers tallied about 31,400 votes among them. If we assume a vote for those three remains a vote against Horn in November, and turnout stays the same (some 35 percent of the nearly 288,000 registered voters in Horn’s fifth district in North County and environs), then Gronke wins by the stunning result of some 52,000 to Bill Horn’s 47,000.
Ah, but those are considerable assumptions and statistics are just statistics. We’re figuring that those who voted for the also-rans will next choose Gronke over Horn; that the voting patterns evinced in June will be the same if a bigger throng shows up for the general election; and that Gronke will not make a major fool of himself between now and then.
Already, he’s switched his voter registration designation from Republican to “declines to state,” which might appeal to a parcel of the other 64,000 who decline to state (22 percent of the registered fifth district voters). Perhaps some of the 127,000 registered GOP (44 percent of
the total) can forgive Gronke’s soft-pedaling now of his Republicanism and a group among the district’s 83,000 Democrats (29 percent) would vote for the candidate perceived to be the least conservative of the two, likely Gronke?
Enough emphasis on some of Horn’s more questionable pursuits — did someone say talking on the phone with developers as a vote approached on their plans for a housing project on Merriam Mountain; opposing fences around swimming pools because of the cost to landlords, like himself; failing to secure building permits before doing construction at his Valley Center property, et al? — might even dislodge a diehard maverick or two.