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Open primary debuts Tuesday

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POSTED June 4, 2012 12:33 a.m.

Voters in Manteca and Ripon have a rare chance Tuesday to send shock waves reverberating through the Democratic and Republican party apparatuses.

California’s open primary and the newly formed 10th Congressional District has created what many political observers believe ispendent to knock a major party off the November ballot. The district also includes Escalon and all of Stanislaus County

At the same time, Lathrop voters in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District will have their say in a race that has attracted national attention.

In the voter-approved open primary the top two vote getters regardless of party affiliation advance to the November ballot. A district could end up nominating two Democrats, two Republicans or a party member and an independent. Backers of the open primary believe it will ultimately produce the election of more moderate candidates instead of those who have to appeal to the left base in the Democratic Party or the fight base in the Republican Party in order to secure party nominations for the general election.

In the 10th District, the race has three major challengers who all moved into the district - Republican Jeff Denham, Democratic hopeful Jose Hernandez from Stockton who is a former astronaut and independent Chad Condit.

Condit has high name recognition in the district as his father Gary Condit represented the area for years in Sacramento and then Washington, D.C. His father had a streak for independent voting putting valley issues above party positions despite being a Democrat.

His son, who was raised in Ceres where he went to high school, is staking out a similar course.

In perhaps the most telling of the different perspectives of the three are their positions on high speed rail. Hernandez embraces it, Denham is against it and wants to kill it, while Condit believes the real issue in delivering what was promised to voters - a high speed rail system that costs what they were told it would cost.

There are two other candidates on the 10th District ballot. Mike Barkley of Manteca who is a lawyer, CPA, and computer programmer running as a Democrat and independent Troy Wayne McComak who is listed on the ballot as a scientist, teacher, and entrepreneur.

Newcomer 24-year-old Ricky Gill of Lodi is working to secure the Republican nomination in the 9th District to take on Congressman Jerry McNerney who narrowly won election in 2010 to a district split between the Bay Area and the Northern San Joaquin Valley. McNerney moved to the newly created 9th District in order to run. Gill, if elected in November, would be 25 when he is sworn into office which is the minimum age allowed in the constitution for serving in Congress.

In the new 12th District California Assembly race that covers all of Stanislaus County along with Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, and Escalon there are only two names on the ballot - Republican Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen of Modesto and Democrat Chris Mateo who serves on the Lathrop City Council. Both will advance to the general election ballot since no write-in candidate has qualified for the ballot.

Running for State Senator from the 5th District are Republicans Leroy Ornellas and Bill Berryhill plus Democrat Kathleen Galgiani. Ornellas and Berryhill are both farmers. Ornellas currently serves on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors representing Manteca south of Yosemite Avenue, Ripon, Tracy, and Mountain House. Berryhill is in the Assembly as is Galgiani.

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