Democratic Assembly candidate Edward Headington and Republican Scott Wilk broke bread at the Valley Industry Association’s August luncheon, then broke out their different views of the district’s political future.
Wilk sees himself as picking up the flag of past Republican Assemblymembers Keith Richman and Cameron Smyth.
“Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who has endorsed me, is up there working hard for you Monday through Thursday slamming his head against the wall because in the 80 member body only 27 of those are Republicans,” said Wilk.
However, Wilk said “Good news is on the way” and envisions the Republicans gaining up to 34 seats in the next election due to redistricting.
Headington hopes to carry a new flag, not blue, nor red – but purple. He says the “little truth” that Wilk hasn’t realized yet is that as a Republican he’ll be irrelevant.
“He’s outside the majority party. You’re going to need a helmet with more cushioning than Cameron has and certainly (more) than Keith Richman has because it’s going to be more frustrating up there,” said Headington.
What Headington needs to accomplish is convincing Republicans that he will represent their ideas too.
“Yes, I’m a Democrat, but I’m a fiscal conservative,” said Headington.
Both men are small business owners. Headington has owned Headington Media Group in Granada Hills for nearly a decade. According to Wilk’s bio he and his wife, Vanessa, owned a vending company in the 1980s and currently heads his own public affairs firm.
Perhaps the most telling difference between the two men is their political history. Wilk (serving his second term on the Santa Clarita Community College Board of Trustees) has deep Republican party roots working as Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Tom McClintock and Assemblywoman Paula Boland, and then as District Director for Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon. Wilk has received the key endorsement from Smyth.
However, deep roots can sometimes be gnarled and ugly, much like the public rift Wilk has had with McKeon and his wife Patricia who failed to be one of the top two vote getters in the primary.
Redistricting has brought new voting demographics and new players outside the usual confines of the Santa Clarita Valley. Headington has been able to cross party lines with two endorsements from key Republicans: former Smyth Santa Clarita Valley Chief Deputy, 38th Assembly candidate and William S. Hart District Board Member Paul Strickland and Republican Suzan Soloman, Newhall School District Board Member and 34th District Parent Teacher Association Legislative Chair.
Headington sees his broad base of support as an advantage.
“Look at the people I have supporting me. I have Dick Riordan, I have Paul Strickland who I brought as a I guest. I have significant Republican support that I’m building this Purple Coalition with. That’s indicative of the kind of leader I’ll be up there,” said Headington.
Wilk doesn’t want Republicans to be fooled into voting for a Democrat.
“If you think you can have Democrats taking Republican seats based upon the fact that you think you can get some stuff. (Democratic Assembly) Speaker Perez is just going to run over you. That means he’s going to have even more members in his caucus that he’s going to be able to control,” said Wilk.
Wilk tried to paint himself as a moderate, perhaps to counter Headington’s Purple Coalition.
“There’s people on the far left and there’s people on the far right and I think there’s a lot of us that are in the middle,” said Wilk.
Headington wasn’t buying that. He described Wilk as being to the right of Smyth.
“I knew Keith Richman. Keith Richman was a friend of mine. I know Cameron Smyth. Scott, you’re no Cameron Smyth, you’re no Keith Richman,” said Headington.
Voters will have the opportunity to choose which flag will be carried Nov. 6.