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thedesertsun.com | What do Oden and Clute share? June 5, 2006

Posted by ronodenmedia in In the Media.

Nicole C. Brambila
The Desert Sun
June 3, 2006 June 3, 2006

Congressional candidates Steve Clute and Ron Oden have more in common than their bid for Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia's seat.Any guesses?It's not their political party either – both are Democrats.

Give up?

Both candidates have lost Congressional bids to a Bono – Sonny and Mary that is.

The 57-year-old Clute, who held a state Assembly office from 1982 to 1992, made an unsuccessful bid against then Palm Springs Mayor Sonny Bono in 1994.

"Had I realized what a celebrity Sonny Bono was, I don't think I would have run," Clute said Wednesday.

And Oden, the 56-year-old openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, six years ago challenged Mary Bono for the congressional seat she's held since Sonny, her husband, died in a skiing accident.

Oden let out a hearty laugh Thursday when the odd similarity was compared to the cult game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."


Inspired by the stage play "Six Degrees of Separation," the game requires players to connect any film actor to Bacon in as few links as possible.Today, Clute and Oden are trying to topple Garcia, who's held her state post since 2002.

Their platforms are both Democratic- education, the environment, a living wage and so forth.

So, what separates them? Depends which candidate you ask.

For Clute, it's the basics – getting out and talking with people in the district.

"You really don't need (polls) if you're doing your homework and meeting people out in the street," Clute said.

"For win or for lose, I believe I'm in it for the right reasons."

Sure, today's candidates have to shake hands and kiss babies like they always have, Oden said. They also have to be tech savvy.

"I don't think that high-tech alone is going to do it," Oden said. "And, I'm not that kind of person."

Oden has a glossy Web site.

Clute doesn't.

But for Oden, the distinction in this race is simple: recent experience.

"It has been decades since we've had anyone in this position with any local experience," Oden said. "I have that. I know the local issues, the local politicians."

The Race

The 80th Assembly District is comprised by all of Imperial County (Brawley, El Centro, Salton Sea) and part of Riverside County (Palm Springs, Indio, Blythe).Steve Clute

  • Hometown: Palm Desert
  • Age: 57
  • Education: Bachelor’s in sociology from University of California, Riverside (1971) and a master’s Degree in management at from Webster College in St. Louis
  • Family: wife, Pamela (married 1977)
  • Previous elected office: State Assembly 1982-1992, Riverside County
  • Accomplishments: Navy pilot (1971-1978)
  • Campaign Funds: raised $27, 548.92; spent $33,020.61
  • Party affiliation: DemocratJust the facts
  • Three things in need of fixing: Health care access, lower tuition costs, and work-force and affordable housing.
  • Top priority: Infrastructure needs.
  • Motivation for running: “To serve the constituency and make it the highest priority.”Ron Oden
  • Hometown: Palm Springs
  • Age: 56
  • Education: Bachelor’s in history, sociology and theology; master’s in theology and ethics studies
  • Previous Offices: Palm Springs mayor (2003) and Palm Springs City Council (1995)
  • Campaign Funds: Raised $54,947; spent $75,562.68
  • Party Affiliation: DemocratJust the facts
  • Three things in need of fixing: The Salton Sea, a growth plan that also protects our resources and quality of life, and making sure a fair share of our tax-dollars are returned to our area.
  • Top priority: An educational policy that promises every child in the district the tools they need to excel in an increasingly competitive job market.
  • Motivation for running: “To give the district an experienced voice in Sacramento that understands local issues and because I am a veteran.”
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