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TOMAS OVALLE / Special to The Californian

Hanford Republican Andy Vidak prayers appeared to be answered at his election party at his spread in Hanford. Vidak is running for the open 16th district state senate seat that was vacated by Democrat Michael Rubio. Vidak is running against Bakersfield Democrat Leticia Perez.

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Michael Fagans / The Californian

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez, her husband Fernando Jara and son Jude, 2 pose for a portrait at the Carpenter's Hall in Bakersfield on election night on Tuesday.

This so-called special election for the 16th Senate district has brought out some exceedingly unspecial behavior on the part of the two main candidates.

In short, Republican Andy Vidak and Democrat Leticia Perez need to grow up.

It's hard to imagine they've been running for this high an office and still don't understand that if they want to "serve the public" they have to deal with the media.

During the campaign, they've both acted as if answering basic questions is some kind of favor.


People rely on the media to help them understand candidate positions and priorities.

And though candidates would prefer to relay that information through scripted press conferences and canned releases, we, in the media, prefer a more unguarded give-and-take to see how candidates work under pressure and respond to challenges.

No one's going to get very far in Sacramento if they can't think on their feet.

So, we want to see what candidates are made of.

As far as the two political "machine" candidates, not much, if you ask me.

Vidak refused to be videotaped during his meeting with The Californian's editorial board at which he was seeking the paper's endorsement.

Every candidate goes into these meetings understanding they are on the record. Anything you say can, and most likely will, be put in the paper.

There are no secrets in editorial board meetings.

So why no video? Does Vidak not show up on film?

There is no good reason for a candidate to make such a demand.

Unless, of course the candidate wants to leave himself wiggle room to claim what's reported out of the meeting was somehow twisted or taken out of context.

Unfortunately, the ed board needed Vidak at this meeting to help make its endorsement decision, so it agreed to the no video caveat.

"In hindsight we might have done it differently," Editorial Page Editor Robert Price said.

Poor candidate behavior didn't stop there.

After The Californian endorsed Vidak in mid-May, Perez canceled an appearance on The Californian's "First Look" radio-webcast program hosted by Scott Cox.

Editorial Page Editor Price later cajoled her to come back for another interview in the interest of making sure all candidates had equal time on the show. All five candidates had appeared on First Look including Democrats Paulina Miranda and Francisco Ramirez and Peace and Freedom candidate Mohammad Arif.

Except, when Perez got to the studio on Monday, she demanded that Cox leave. Not just that he not participate in the interview, but leave the room.

Cox has made no secret of the fact that he's upset Perez would seek higher office after spending so little time as a Kern County Supervisor. He's not alone in that criticism and Perez has had to answer for that to numerous people in and out of the media.

Still, Perez refused to be in the same room with Cox.

He had to step out while Perez and Price chatted. If you didn't catch it the first time around, watch it now:


If Perez can't face down questions from the likes of Cox (not exactly the Mike Wallace of Bakersfield, no offense) how would she possibly deal with life in the Sacramento fishbowl?

Either way, demanding Cox leave the studio did Perez no good (click here to see what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awAN3ynICRo&list=UUGLOnV692w1cbTBdXwC9WXg&index=10)

To tweak an old saying about not arguing with someone who buys ink by the barrel, it's equally dumb to pick fights with a guy who has hours of radio/webcast time to fill and almost no filter.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at http://www.bakersfield.com, call her at 395-7373 or e-mail lhenry@bakersfield.com