Mimi Walters launching first ad against Lockyer

With all the heat and light of California’s gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns, it’s almost easy to forget about the down-ticket races. But with Labor Day behind us and the general-election season now fully upon us, forgetting is no longer an option.

To that end, Republican nominee for state Treasurer Mimi Walters – the state Senator from Laguna Niguel – announced today that she’ll start airing this ad next week on cable television in the Central Valley and parts of Southern California:

As you can see, it’s all about painting Democratic incumbent Bill Lockyer of Hayward as a career politician – which, of course, he is.

You can almost forgive her that, as it would be hard if not impossible to explain in a 30-second ad what the state Treasurer – California’s chief asset manager, banker and financier – actually does. More on that, after the jump…

Go on, take your California civics medicine. From the website:

The Treasurer’s Office manages the State’s Pooled Money Investment Account, which invests monies on behalf of state government and local jurisdictions to help them manage their fiscal affairs.

The Treasurer serves on the boards of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). CalPERS and CalSTRS are significant investors/stockholders in the American and global economies. The pension funds provide for the retirement of their members and also perform a variety of other services for them. As an example, CalPERS is the second largest purchaser of health care services in the country.

The Treasurer’s Office finances a variety of important public works needed for the State’s future, including schools and higher education facilities, transportation projects, parks, and environmental projects.

The Treasurer chairs authorities that finance a wide range of significant projects, including pollution clean-up, small businesses and health care facilities. The Treasurer chairs the State commission that awards low-cost, tax-exempt financing for various purposes such as housing, economic development, and student loans.

The Treasurer plays a key role in statewide housing finance as Chair of the Tax Credit Allocation Committee that awards hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits for affordable housing and as a member of the Board of the California Housing Finance Agency, which finances affordable housing.

The Treasurer oversees the ScholarShare Investment Board (SIB), which administers the State’s tax-advantaged college tuition savings plan.

But – and you knew there’d be a “but,” right? – the Treasurer neither sets the state budget nor single-handedly controls pension policy, though Lockyer has been singing the pension-reform gospel for a while now.

So Walters’ ad attacks not Lockyer’s performance as Treasurer, but the entirety of his time in Sacramento. Similarly, her website lacks any kind of “issues” section explaining what her policies are and what she would do to “fix California” as her slogan calls for.

Some voters will respond to this kind of “She is the future” ad nonetheless, especially in this year of anti-incumbent sentiment, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a nonpartisan expert who thinks this will be enough to overcome Lockyer’s name-recognition superiority – with all due respect to a poll done this summer, there’s no way the former Assemblyman, state Senate President Pro Tem and two-term Attorney General is more of an unknown than the state Senator and former mayor and Assemblywoman from Laguna Niguel – and the $8.5 million campaign war chest he’d amassed by midyear.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.