Assemblyman Bill Emmerson contends for Riverside’s 37th district

Assembly member Bill Emmerson is looking to move from the 63rd to the 37th district. Riverside, which is shaping up to be a political laboratory this year, has a number of qualified candidates for an open California State Senate seat. We recently profiled former Assembly representative Russ Bogh, who is campaigning to become the area’s next Senate member.

Now, meet Bogh’s fellow Republican competitor, Bill Emmerson.

Bill Emmerson, D.D.S., a Republican California State Assembly member voted into office in 2004, is a longtime Southern California resident who completed graduate work in Northern California and in Washington D.C..  Emmerson currently represesnts the 63rd District.

Emmerson is an orthodontist and a professor in the Loma Linda School of Dentistry. In his biography, it is pointed out that soon after earning his degree, he became involved in the creation of a new dental hygiene program at a community college in Riverside. While he has been widely lauded for his role in bridging the dental and political worlds, he has been criticized for it by some as well.

Emmerson was recently cited in the news for connections to the California Dental Association. According to the  Sacramento Bee, Emmerson received over $400,000 in donations from the CDA in an Assembly campaign earlier this decade. Emmerson’s biography also notes that he has “Been recognized as the 2008 Legislator of the Year by the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California and the 2009 Legislator of the Year by the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists.”

The clear competition in this race is between Emmerson and Bogh, and Emmerson’s campaign seems to recognize it. Emmerson’s laundry list of stances and successes clearly reflect a conservative slant, no doubt. Emmerson has characterized himself as a “fiscal conservative” who, while in the Assembly, has “Reduced job-killing regulations” and supported tax credits “To encourage new hirings” and to “spur construction jobs”.  

Hhe cut his own government salary by 11% to set an example, has cut spending by more than $12 billion, has opposed raising the sales tax, an Internet tax and a payroll tax, and has “Supported tax reforms that encourage employers to create new jobs for Californians, keep jobs in our state as well as relocate to California”.

He has worked to “Fight eminent domain abuse” and has pushed for harsher laws to deal with sex offenders. Harkening to basic conservative talking points, Emmerson has been working to contrast his record with that of Bogh. On Emmerson’s main election page, it is pointed out that Emmerson has received 100% ratings from both the California Taxpayers Association and the California Chamber of Commerce.

Characterized as a spending fighter and a careful guardian against massive tax increases, Emmerson presents a solid C.V. to any challenger.  And that is important, as Bogh also shares many of his goals and ideological accomplishments, including prestigious honors from the Riverside Sheriffs Association, in the form of an award for Legislator of the Year.

The question, however, remains.  

Who will the voters elect as their preferred legislator of the year? For conservatives and independents leaning right, the choice now is a tough one.

For now, voters must consider the minutiae which will separate two very accomplished politicians who appear to want to take Riverside in the same general direction: away from taxes and toward economic boom times.