Oller holds off Nutting’s challenge | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Oller holds off Nutting’s challenge

Mike Pottage

Assemblyman Thomas “Rico” Oller survived open-heart surgery just eight weeks ago and a challenge from Supervisor Ray Nutting as the freshman lawmaker sought his second term. Oller will square off Nov. 6 against Democrat Mark Norberg and Libertarian Robert Mulvany.

Oller’s recuperation from surgery precluded many public appearances during the primary campaign, opening the door for a viable challenger to make inroads against an incumbent the political pollsters showed should win easily.

Early returns confirmed the Oller victory. The incumbent held on to 57 percent of the vote to Nutting’s 42 percent from the earliest returns and was improving that showing through the midnight hour. Oller predicted he would win by a 60-to-40 margin when all the ballots are counted.

With 56 percent of the 439 district precincts reporting, Oller had a commanding 30,909 to 21,765 vote margin over Nutting.

Norberg, running unopposed, had 16,909 votes.

Nutting said he made a “heck of a showing” that was “unprecedented for a Republican challenger to an incumbent.”

Nutting said he will run again in two years.

Oller said, “It doesn’t surprise me Nutting would do something that stupid. He does not have a good grasp of political reality. The results for Ray Nutting will be the same every time he runs for Assembly. He will lose.”

Oller attributed that to the fact voters “in the 4th District know the difference between people of integrity and pawns. Ray is a little pawn.”

Oller looked at his victory as “solid.”

He said he was “delighted” that State Senator Tim Leslie was ahead in his campaign for California lieutenant governor, and said Republicans will be poised to retake the majority in the Assembly in November. The November elections “will be a tremendous opportunity for Republicans,” Oller said.

Oller said he was delighted with the returns showing passage of Proposition 227, the measure to require public schools to teach classes in English.

Nutting said he was outspent 5 to 1 and felt “it was unbelievable I would get that kind of return. It was fantastic.”

He said he concentrated his efforts outside El Dorado County, working on name identification and meeting people. But without money, “it is difficult because you cannot meet everybody.

“I have every intention of running again. This was a walk in the park for me. I learned a lot. I made some mistakes. This was an exercise of letting people know who I am. Next time around, I will be very much organized.”

The 4th District includes six counties: El Dorado, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mono and Placer. With 77.8 percent of El Dorado County’s 122 precincts reporting, Nutting led 10,970 to 10,702 vote edge here.

This was Oller’s second Assembly campaign. His first try at public office came in the March, 1996 primary. He faced eight other Republicans that year, and was able to attract 35.6 percent of the vote. He went on to the general election that year to defeat Democrat Erike J. Young by a vote of 33,828 to 25,350.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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