For weeks the race vacant Ward 5 seat on the Bakersfield City Council featured a series of back-and-forth attacks by the two front-runners — Ryan Nance and Bruce Freeman.
The two were part of a three-man race to succeed Jeff Tkac, who won the race for the seat last year but took his own life earlier this year. Freeman, a former head of development company Castle and Cooke, had not run in the previous campaign that featured Tkac, then incumbent Harold Hanson, and Nance.
Freeman, the Harvard-educated developer of Bakersfield’s west side, would prove to be one of the most formidable opponents heading into the race, and Nance’s campaign immediately went on the attack.
Leading that charge was political consultant Fernando Jara, who was tasked with managing the Nance campaign. During a June 9 episode of “The Richard Beene Show,” Jara went into detail why his campaign went into an aggressive attack mode against Freeman, who they described as a carpetbagger based on his dual residency in Bakersfield and Newport Beach.
“I think one thing to think about, from my perspective as a professional consultant, we are always crafting information to a very select group of voters,” Jara told Beene during the opening moments of a 31-minute interview heard on NEWSTALK 1180 KERN. “We are never speaking to the entire population. It’s always targeted. Once our researchers find out who a candidate is it’s not personal at all. This has to do with crafting a message to get voters to think about a candidate one way, another candidate another way. If we’re luck we can polarize them one way or another.”
Jara said from the start he knew that Freeman’s credentials would be a difficult obstacle to overcome.
“We had opposition research (on all potential candidates),” Jara said. “Of course, that doesn’t mean as the consulting group is to simply sling mud, because it’s available.”
However, the campaign did feature claims of carpetbagging, complaints to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, sexual harassment claims and a myriad of other charges and claims as the race wound down toward the June 6 election.
In the end Freeman easily won the seat with more than 60 percent of the vote.
Jara said early into the campaign their polling indicated that Nance had a 6-7 point lead against Freeman, but that he appeared to be in a formidable position to gain ground.
“In this case, and other cases, when I’m dealing with clients I have to give them the hard talk,” Jara said. “This person without even beginning to campaign is already ahead.”
Ralph Bailey reacts to the Jara interview
Immediately after Fernando Jara’s interview with Richard Beene, fellow talk show host, Ralph Bailey, opened his show with an assessment of the interview and said that Jara was responsible for running Ryan Nance’s campaign for the Ward 5 seat into the ground.