The Californian -- Little-known PG councilwoman opens bid for Farr’s seat
I know your first inclination will be not to believe me, but I may have discovered something worthy of your immediately attention — a possibly sane Republican candidate for Congress.
I know, crazy, huh? Staggering even.
Her name is Casey Lucius. She's 38 — soon to be 39 — and she is a member of the Pacific Grove City Council, to which she was elected in 2012.
And … as of Monday she's officially running to unseat Sam Farr in the 20th Congressional District next year.
And, yes, if Farr seeks re-election — and insiders tell me there's a strongly likelihood he will — Lucius will most certainly get creamed. Blended and probably pureed, too.
But here's the thing. Unless my Spidey Sense just isn't working any longer, I think we may have a live one here in Lucius. (Gasp!)
After all, she knows how to organize and she's already won a campaign (albeit for a City Council seat in a small city.) She's tech savvy and has all the social media stuff down. She's articulate, a veteran and an academic.
Assuming that she holds up — and we have a long, long way to go in this thing — Lucius' presence could well serve to enhance the quality of the debate.
During a brief interview Monday she told me that she supports abortion rights, gay marriage and opposes that epically stupid U.S. Supreme Court decision, "Citizens United." (You know, that's the one that deemed that corporations were people, too, in terms of political giving.)
"There is a large number of independents and 'decline to states' registered in Monterey County, and I know that they are not happy with the status quo. I am in this thing to win it. My candidacy will be about giving people in the 20th (Congressional District) a real choice," Lucius said.
According to her press materials, Lucius holds a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a doctorate and has been teaching at the Naval War College at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.
But here's how I know Lucius is serious about this.
Federal law required her to give up her teaching gig at the Naval War College. Fine. Nothing surprising there. But what you don't know that this wasn't just any teaching gig, it was a tenured seat on the faculty — a seat that academics generally wouldn't have any trouble killing over. Oh, and the salary she gave up wasn't too bad, either.
Moreover, Lucius has a keen idea of what running for Congress against an entrenched incumbent can cost. She's figuring on it being at least $1 million. I suspect it may be more in the end.
Young, hip and whip smart, Lucius' best political play is go after the growing pool of independent voters in the 20th CD — you know, the folks that are dissatisfied with both the Democrats and the Republicans. Oh, and when I said "hip," I wasn't kidding. She, her husband and her 5-year-old boy are all longtime vegetarians.
The product of a working, middle-class family, Lucius bused and waited tables to help pay for her schooling, served in the Navy as an intelligence officer and rose to the rank of lieutenant before leaving the service and entering the academic world.
But while she may be the most viable Republican candidate to work in our neck of the woods since Anthony Cannella ran successfully for state Senate District 12, she is taking on a two decade-plus Democratic legend in the form of Farr.
Politically, that's akin to climbing Mount Everest. Farr has worked in such a strongly safe, solidly Democratic district that he has been able to develop a near fanatical voter (and fan) base.
And while I do not like his current position in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, Farr has done some amazing things for his district over the last two decades — like making Cal State University Monterey Bay become a reality. Oh, and then there's that little thing of helping to establish the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which is one of the primary engines of our region's economy.
In other words, Farr's legacy is safe, and, short of some major screw-up on his part, the voters of this area will continue to return him to Washington for as long as he desires to serve.
So my hope for Lucius is that she works to develop her name recognition factor as a viable regional candidate and as an elected that gets stuff done. My hope is that she helps reintroduce an intellectually honest brand of political conservatism to the local arena. Maybe she can show us that true conservative political theory is worth bringing back to our local "marketplace of ideas."
Oh, and there was something else about Lucius I noticed that made her viability stand out to me. She can publicly admit when she's made mistakes.
Lucius said in 2014 she voted for an ordinance in Pacific Grove that would have banned homeless people from sleeping in their cars. She also said that while serving on the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) board of directors she voted to increase the rents at a FORA-owned apartment complex.
Almost overnight she acknowledged publicly that both votes were mistakes and that she regretted them. She reversed herself and was ultimately able to get both situations turned around so that there was no rent increase and that homeless folks can take refuge in their cars in Pacific Grove if necessary.
Doing this takes some guts. C'mon, when was the last time you heard a politician say: "Hey, I screwed up. I was wrong."
So stay tuned everyone — this situation could get interesting.
By the way, Lucius made her announcement Monday by posting a short introductory video on her website. You can check it out here:
By Jeff Mitchell