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True Yet Funny

Race dead candidates

The following is supposedly a true story. To be included, besides being true, the story is most likely strange, weird, surprising, or funny.

Martinez, California:

Gus Kramer faces an unusual challenge in his race for county assessor: His opponents would rather see a dead man elected.

Kramer's only rival in the Contra Costa County race, Dan Hallissy, died of a heart attack April 10 -- too late for anyone else to run.

But Hallissy's name will remain on the ballot for the June 7 nonpartisan primary. And the incumbent assessor is working to get him elected.

Voters should have "a chance to elect an honest, experienced person to this office," said assessor John Biasotti.

A Hallissy victory would force a special election next March, open to any candidate.

U.S. Representative Bill Baker, a Republican, also is backing the posthumous effort. His spokesman said voters should have a choice.

Kramer, who briefly stopped campaigning to mark Hallissy's death, decried the effort as a "classical case of cronyism." He said his opponents "want the taxpayer to blow $800,000," about the cost of a special election.

Kramer also bristled at the charge he's unfit for the job, citing his experience as city clerk for Martinez and as a real estate agent for the county's Public Works Department.

The assessor's office is responsible for estimating property values in the 830,000-person county, 30 miles east of San Francisco. The job pays $84,000 a year.

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