By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
I never reached Tony Hernandez. His wife insisted to me on the phone that neither she nor he had visited Barrientos and that neither was doing any absentee-vote harvesting this season. "That could have been somebody else saying it was him," she said.
Mmm, not likely. I pointed out that Barrientos had told me he has known both of the Hernandezes for years and has seen them many times at his home.
"I know," she said. "I know that. We've known that other people go in our place and say that we sent them, and they get all mixed up."
Shoot! Body doubles like Saddam!
Nealy, Sampson and a spokesperson for the Poss campaign all said they had no knowledge whatsoever of any vote effort by the Hernandezes or anyone else. And that's entirely possible. The vote harvesters often sally out on their own and gather votes that they hope to peddle closer to Election Day when the candidates get desperate.
Whoever went to see Mr. Barrientos must have been preparing his pigeons to vote for Poss when the ballots arrive, but that doesn't mean Poss knew a thing about it. It only means the broker thinks Poss will turn out to be his best chance for a sale.
I regret the implication, but I get the logic. It's what everybody I talk to says. Mary Poss doesn't stand a chance, unless something huge happens between now and May 3.
There are scenarios by which Poss could still take this thing, of course. In one, we find out from the Los Angeles Times on the eve of the election that Laura Miller's real name is Janel "Bad Betty" Betts and she's an escaped serial killer from Arkansas. Half the people I work with will say, "Yeah, I've been telling people that for weeks."
But then we'll have to do the math on whether this hurts Miller or helps her in Dixon Branch. I think it's pretty hard to hurt her right now. And the Laura's-a-phony deal? A tree falling in the forest.