.Nuz: The Lesson from Panetta’s Path to Easy November Run-off

With a wide margin of victory, Congressmember Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel) is sailing into a November run-off against Republican challenger Jeff Gorman.

The incumbent Panetta will be the heavy favorite in a district dominated by Democratic voters. In the March 3 election, Panetta also had a challenger on the left in Watsonville-based environmental activist Adam Bolaños Scow, who finished third in the race. Scow was the most serious liberal challenger Panetta had ever seen at the ballot, going back to when the congressmember first ran four years ago. Over the past year, Scow criticized Panetta for taking corporate money, and he also promised, if elected, to be an avowed champion of environmental issues.

Pardon Nuz’s quick history lesson here, but Panetta did not garner much opposition when he first ran for Congress back in 2016. The then-relatively inexperienced attorney and his dad Leon earned the blessing of the retiring Sam Farr, and they very quickly gobbled up every major establishment endorsement like a vacuum cleaner going after dust bunnies. At the time, the race had at least one further-left, Scow-like candidate in hospital lab technician Joe Williams, but Santa Cruz for Bernie and the rest of the local left never really mobilized around him. The comparatively over-qualified Bill Monning and Luis Alejo, meanwhile, both ended up sitting the election out.

Anyway, the point is that maybe, going forward, this will serve as a reminder that it’s a heckuva lot easier to take on a centrist political heavyweight chosen-one before he makes his first run at office, wins a couple elections and accrues four years’ worth of name recognition than it is after.


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