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Let's Get Physical

Pow.

It didn't take long for the Hannah-Beth Jackson-Tony Strickland state senate race to live up to its advance notice as the most, uh, combative campaign in California.

Battling for the 19th senate district seat, supporters of Democrat Jackson and Republican Strickland got into a heated, physical altercation outside a Strickland fundraiser in Thousand Oaks on Tuesday night, which had simmered down to a mere war of words late Friday.

At the center of the action was Joel Angeles, a former aide to Strickland, who is now chief of staff for Strickland's wife, Audra, who serves in the state Assembly. Angeles was on hand as dozens of Jackson backers showed up to demonstrate outside the Hyatt Westlake hotel to protest donations from the tobacco industry to her GOP rival. Not to be outflanked on its own turf, the Strickland campaign mobilized its own counter-protesters to stand up to the Jackson crowd.

Complications ensued.

Amid the sturm und drang of pushing, shoving, elbowing and fist tossing, police were called but made no arrests, according to an on-the-scene Ventura County Star report here. When the dust settled, Audra Strickland had suspended Angeles without pay for a month for using "poor judgment," Jackson issued a hyperventilating press release calling for the aide to be fired and decrying the "attack of protesters" and Tony Strickland countered that Hannah-Beth's supporters were the aggressors.

"Audra and I were inside and neither of us saw the incident," Strickland told me. "It's kind of a 'he said, she said' thing."

Which kind of sums up the whole race.

Strickland said that his Dinner with Mitt raised about $250,000 for his campaign. I'll have a complete report on my interview with him in next week's Independent print edition, the Lord and the editor willing.

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