Kern County supervisorial candidate Mick Gleason celebrated his top endorsements Wednesday morning with a gathering outside the Kern County Administrative Center where he again promised to bring new blood and new ideas to the sprawling 1st District.
But his throng of prominent supporters jammed the south entrance to the building -- impeding voters from accessing polling booths inside the county elections office and tromping on a law that prevents political activism near a polling place.
Just after Congressman Kevin McCarthy finished his endorsement speech, Kern County Elections Division Chief Karen Rhea stopped the event and directed the group to move.
Rhea said it is against the law to advocate for a particular candidate within 100 feet of a polling place, which McCarthy was. It's actually a misdemeanor -- though nobody was hauled off to jail.
The delay was only brief, as the group shifted south across the courtyard and formed up into a crescent around Gleason again.
"This race is a critically important race for Kern County. First District Kern County supervisor represents a very large portion of our county and we need to make sure we have the right leadership that represents our values in that position," Gleason told supporters and the media.
"This race is about new leadership, fresh ideas, new ideas and to get things moving in a direction that we can keep Kern County as a forerunner of all counties in California."
Gleason touted the support of McCarthy, state Sen. Jean Fuller, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, former 1st District candidate Dave Freeland, the Kern County Republican Party, the Kern County Young Republicans and the Metropolitan Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.
Fuller, Grove and Freeland all spoke in support of Gleason from beyond the 100-foot barrier.
Bakersfield City Council members Jacquie Sullivan and Ken Weir also attended the event, as did Supervisor Karen Goh.
In his comments, McCarthy portrayed Gleason as a great leader with "fresh ideas."
"Mick, when America needed him, he flew more than 50 sorties in Desert Storm. He didn't sit back, he led in. That's the type of leadership we want here in Kern County," McCarthy said.
Grove also touted Gleason's career as an aviator in the U.S. Navy.
"The Navy grows leaders and Mick Gleason is a leader," Grove said. "Whether he's serving overseas flying aircraft to be able to protect our freedoms that we cherish every day or he's serving right here in the county Board of Supervisors office, Mick Gleason will represent the integrity and values that we here in Kern County share."
Gleason committed to addressing critical issues in the 1st District.
"That Isabella Dam is a big issue with real impacts to people in the Kern River Valley and all Kern County," Gleason said. "There's a clear difference in approach between my approach and my opponent's approach for mitigating that solution. I want to team with the Army Corps of Engineers and I want to bring solutions to the community and not resist their efforts."
Gleason's opponent, former Supervisor and former state Sen. Roy Ashburn, said he wasn't surprised by any of the endorsements Gleason received.
"Mark Abernathy has brought forth Mark Abernathy clients. There's little surprise that all of the Mark Abernathy candidates are on Mick Gleason's team," he said, referring to the local GOP consultant.
Gleason also touted the support of the Republican establishment and "all of the elected officials that have dealings with our county."
"This is an apolitical seat. It's not Democrat. It's not Republican. But both contenders for this seat are Republicans," Gleason said. "I'm pleased to say that I have the support and the endorsement of the Republican Party in this race -- the Kern County Young Republicans, the Kern County GOP."
But Ashburn pointed to others who have endorsed him to counter Gleason's claim, including former Republican Congressman Bill Thomas, current 1st District Supervisor Jon McQuiston, Supervisor-elect David Couch and a majority of council members in Ridgecrest and Delano -- communities that are home to more than half of the district's voters.
But McCarthy said those communities need Gleason's leadership.
"Kern County needs fresh ideas, from Ridgecrest to Delano to Shafter to Bakersfield. To Lake Isabella," he said. "There are big challenges."