Moorpark Republican activist Matt Noah, who caused a nationwide stir by airing graphic television ads of aborted fetuses during his first political campaign in Colorado, has decided to challenge Republican Assemblyman Nao Takasugi (R-Oxnard) in the March primary election.
Noah, a 37-year-old electrical engineer, said he remains committed to fighting abortion but will not make it a central point in this political campaign.
"Everybody knows where I stand on abortion," Noah said. "I don't have to elaborate on that."
Instead, he will focus on his pledges to lower taxes, bolster the economy and end affirmative action programs.
"I believe affirmative action diminishes the real contributions of racial minorities all over the United States," Noah said in an announcement. "No individual should suffer the stigma that is associated with affirmative action."
So far, Noah is the only candidate--Democrat or Republican--to challenge Takasugi in the 37th Assembly District that stretches from Thousand Oaks to Oxnard.
Takasugi, 73, said he doesn't know Noah, but is certain his campaign would gear up to defeat any challenge to his plans for a third and final term in the Assembly.
"Even if candidates surface, they don't always follow through," Takasugi said. "It depends on whether they are able to raise money or get a good organization behind them."
Noah's decision to take on a GOP incumbent does not sit well with the head of the county's Republican Party.
"I think, as a general rule, we should target Democrat positions," said Karen Kurta, chairwoman of the county's Republican Central Committee. "Presumably, Mr. Noah believes he can bring something to the position that Nao Takasugi does not."
Noah said he and Takasugi have widely differing views of how government should operate. He cited a recent bill that would compel insurance companies to reimburse clients for abortions.
"Nao Takasugi is saying with his vote that he is in favor of every insurance company in California having to cover abortions," Noah said. "That's very much in lock-step with the Democratic viewpoint."
Takasugi, who favors abortion rights, said he could not remember the specific bill mentioned by Noah. "Maybe he's focused on one part of a bill," Takasugi said. "In the last week, I don't know how many hundreds of bills have come up for a vote."
Noah moved to Ventura County in 1993 to take a managerial job with Advanced Compression Technology Inc. in Camarillo. He has a master's degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
It was in 1992 that he gained nationwide notoriety as an unsuccessful candidate in the U.S. Senate race in Colorado under the banner of the Christian Pro-life Party, which he founded.
During the campaign, he gained as much attention as the mainstream candidates with political advertising that featured grisly color photographs of dead and dismembered fetuses.
One 30-second TV ad, for instance, compared pictures of aborted fetuses with pictures of Holocaust victims, as Adolf Hitler spoke in the background. Another showed a fetus inside a woman's uterus as a voice "tempts" her to have an abortion.
Some television stations balked at airing the ads or tried to reschedule them to run during the early-morning hours. But the stations were thwarted by rulings from the Federal Communications Commission and federal courts citing laws that a federal candidate's ads cannot be censored.
"I beat all of the stations," Noah said. "We even won at the U.S. Supreme Court."
Since moving to Ventura County, Noah has continued his political activism--albeit in a more low-key style.
He is an elected member of the county's Republican Central Committee and was appointed by State Sen. Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) to the GOP's statewide central committee.