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Ballots are beginning to arrive in local mailboxes, and some voters may be surprised by the long list of candidates in the June 5 primary.

There are 32 people running for U.S. senator, 27 for governor, even 11 for lieutenant governor, a job with almost no official duties. Three House districts have upward of 15 candidates.

It isn’t hard to get on the ballot in California. Pay a fee of a few hundred dollars or collect a few thousand signatures, and you’re a candidate for office. But holding office is serious business. Now more than ever, it’s evident that passion doesn’t substitute for judgment and that experience is an asset in public office, especially at the highest levels.

Across the country, the midterm election is shaping up as a referendum on the Trump administration. While that may be true for many North Bay voters, this is an election year to remember Tip O’Neill’s famous adage: all politics is local.

Folks in Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa and Lake counties, and elsewhere in the region, needed help right away after October’s firestorm razed thousands of homes. So did our local governments. Unexpected — and costly — problems continue to surface six months later.

Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson have delivered.

When the White House proposed a disaster relief bill that included no money for California fire victims, Thompson and Huffman went to work for their constituents. They enlisted support from all 53 members of the state’s House delegation, Democrats and Republicans alike, to secure help that Californians desperately needed.

The legislation ultimately signed by the president included up to $55 billion in disaster relief for California and a federal commitment to cover 90 percent of debris removal costs. The bill also qualified wildfire victims for special tax provisions already available to hurricane victims.

Thompson subsequently secured House authorization for Santa Rosa to seek FEMA money to help offset the $43 million cost of replacing benzene-contaminated water pipes in a Fountaingrove neighborhood.

Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Thompson, D-St. Helena, can make a strong case for re-election based solely on their work since the fires.

Each faces multiple challengers in the June 5 primary, and their opponents are focused less on the nuts-and-bolts of disaster recovery and more on the partisan and intrapartisan squabbles that seem to dominate American politics.

In the 2nd District, which stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, Democrat Andy Caffrey of Garberville is running against Huffman for the third time in four election cycles, and Republican Dale K. Mensing of Redway is challenging Huffman for a third straight time.

Caffrey identifies himself as a staunch supporter of Bernie Sanders, though his website criticizes the Vermont senator as insufficiently aligned with Caffrey’s “electoral revolutionary vision.” Mensing’s priorities include eliminating chem trails — aligning himself with a debunked conspiracy theory.

In the 5th District, which reaches from Contra Costa County to Lake County, Thompson faces Jason Kishineff, a Green Party member from American Canyon, and independents Anthony Mills of Vallejo and Nils Palsson of Santa Rosa.

Kisnineff and Palsson are challenging Thompson from the left, calling, among other things, for single-payer health care. Mills is running to the right, with a platform that includes term limits and opposition to mandatory microchipping of human beings.

The top two in each district will advance to November’s election, but none of the challengers makes a persuasive case for unseating incumbents with proven track records. In addition to delivering for their constituents, Thompson is a national leader on gun safety, and Huffman is an authoritative voice on climate issues.

For the House of Representatives, The Press Democrat recommends Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson.

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

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