In the national battleground that is California's U.S. Senate race, weighty issues dominate, like jobs, economic dislocation and California's future, and rightly so.
But sometimes, a politician's seemingly minor actions taken long ago end up having the biggest impact on our lives.
Often, those are the ones politicians would prefer that we forget, like legislation Sen. Barbara Boxer pushed a decade ago that could bring a casino-resort to her electoral backyard, Sonoma County.
On the stump and in debates, Boxer counters Republican challenger Carly Fiorina's charge that she has been a do-nothing senator by pointing to "a thousand Boxer provisions," laws that bear her stamp.
Boxer, seeking her fourth term, displays more than 100 of them on her campaign website. The list is heavy on environmental legislation, detailing how she helped set aside a million acres as wilderness and secured hundreds of millions of dollars for flood control, water and mass transit projects.
But that list omits the Graton Rancheria Restoration Act. Signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000, Boxer's bill restored sovereign rights to a few hundred Miwok and Pomo Indians in the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
On Oct. 1, the tribe reached a milestone, albeit without public fanfare. The U.S. Department of Interior took 254 acres into trust, essentially creating a new reservation for Federated Indians directly off Highway 101 south of the Sonoma County city of Rohnert Park — prime land for a Las Vegas-style casino.
Boxer prides herself on being a strong environmentalist, having won endorsements from all the environmentalist groups that count. She blasts Fiorina for supporting offshore oil drilling and embracing Proposition 23, which would suspend California's climate change law.
There is an inconsistency in Boxer's otherwise green record. State environmental laws do not apply on Indian reservations. And a casino off Highway 101 abutting Rohnert Park, a city of about 40,000 people, certainly would have an impact. Water supplies are short in Sonoma County, and casino customers would further clog Highway 101, the Redwood Highway.
"This is going to have a profound adverse impact throughout my district," Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, told me.
Boxer seemed uncomfortable when asked about the Graton legislation during her stop at the Sacramento Bee last month as she sought the paper's endorsement.
She has reason to be uncomfortable.
Her son, Oakland attorney Douglas Boxer, became involved in the casino project in 2001, the year after she pushed through the bill granting recognition to the tribe.
In a rather convoluted manner, Boxer said: "I can't talk about any developments because my son was a lawyer who was part of some consultant that was somehow related to this."
I'll try to parse that.
"Some consultant" would be Darius Anderson. For more than a decade, Anderson has been one of Sacramento's top lobbyists. He also lobbies in Washington, D.C.
"Somehow related to this" means that Anderson represents Station Casinos, the Las Vegas casino corporation that is Graton's management partner.
Anderson also is a developer, and Doug Boxer used to work with him, specifically on the Graton deal. The son and the lobbyist-developer remain partners in a limited liability corporation that would profit if Graton were to open a casino, Boxer campaign spokesman Matthew Kagen told me.
Boxer continued, in her disjointed way: