[EDITOR'S NOTE: Correction appended below.]
Assemblymember Julia Brownley and state Sen. Tony Strickland clashed over fiscal policy, housing and education at an Oct. 2 debate in Thousand Oaks as their campaigns for the 26th U.S. Congressional district remained a close contest.
Held at California Lutheran University, the debate turned especially heated when Brownley accused Strickland of voting against California’s Homeowners Bill of Rights, a bill that protects consumers from arbitrary foreclosures. But Strickland shot back, accusing Brownley of helping to take $400 million from a settlement with big banks and diverting the money to the state general fund.
Strickland also called the so-called Bullet Train, advocated by Gov. Jerry Brown and supported by Brownley, a “boondoggle.” But he refused to commit to supporting a plan modeled on the Bowles-Simpson Commission to reduce the federal deficit through a combination of entitlement reforms and modest tax hikes.
Strickland, touting his Ventura County roots, said he would support a strong military and work to prevent cuts at Naval Base Ventura County. Brownley said she believed the base was not in immediate jeopardy of closing; she stressed education and science research funding in her remarks.
In response to a question from CLU Professor Herb Gooch, Strickland said his favorite Supreme Court justices had been Chief Justice John Roberts, but in the wake of Roberts vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act he liked Clarence Thomas. Amid audible gasps from the audience, he amended his favorite to Samuel Alito.
Brownley said her favorite was Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In some ways the Ventura County contest is a proxy war for leading contenders for House leadership. Strickland is very close to Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, a Bakersfield Republican. The pair shared an apartment in Sacramento. Many believe Brownley was hand-picked by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to contend for the seat which opened up on the retirement of U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, a Republican from Simi Valley.
The debate lasted 90 minutes and was sponsored by CLU, the Pacific Coast Business Times and the Ventura County Star.
[CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct Brownley's favorite Supreme Court justice.]