Reflections on the 2014 California Primary election

As I review the results of the California Primary election from my perspective as a Republican, I am thinking: For Governor, Republicans followed William F. Buckley’s election rule for conservatives: “Vote for the most conservative candidate THAT CAN WIN”.

neel-kashkari-testifiesAlthough former Minuteman and current Tea Party member Tim Donnelly led in Republican  polls for Governor before the election, more Republicans who voted did so for Neel Kashkari  (817,884 or 19.5% verses 624,858 14.9%).  The totals are different in Contra Costa County, with Donnelly getting 16,582 votes to Kashkari’s 15,080. (Note: at this point there still several hundred thousand  absentee and provisional ballets yet to be counted in the State).

Kashkari may not have much of a chance against Jerry Brown, who received 54% of the vote statewide, 63% in Contra Costa, but he and high profile Republicans such as former Governor Pete Wilson and current New Jersey Governor Chis Christie will give Republicans a voice on issues they would not had had with Donnelly.   And Republicans can continue focusing on their efforts to elect Republican candidates rather than spending the summer worrying about campaign incidents that plagued Donnelly before and during the primary campaign.

It appears that Republicans have learned that if you don’t win elections your views don’t matter; thus the Buckley dictum came true in California.

One Fun Fact from the 2014 California Primary

California elections always have one “fun fact.” For me this feature of California politics was fulfilled by Democratic candidate, alleged gunrunner and all-purpose crook Leland Yee.  Yee received 369,842 votes for Secretary of State and is in third place as I write this.  He received approximately 10% of those votes in his home city San Francisco, even though his arrest was on the front page of every newspaper or was the lead story on every newscast for weeks.  It would be interesting to find out why 369,842 Democratic “low information voters” voted for Lee; they can’t all need new guns.

Democrat Mary Hayashi also finished 3rd in her race for the State Senate in District 10.  She received more than 21,000 votes (out of a total 61,000) so maybe it is true that there is a “criminal caucus” or a Neiman-Marcus fan club in the California Legislature.

My Favorite Candidate

Catherine Baker calls for end to BART StrikeMy favorite local candidate in the California Primary is Republican Catharine Baker in Assembly District 16 (full disclosure:  I worked in her campaign). Working for Catharine is easy as she is a bright, disciplined, tough, workhorse candidate; and she is the only Republican to be endorsed by the Contra Costa Times.  Catharine was endorsed as the most knowledgeable candidate in the race and her knowledge on issues was in evidence as she campaigned throughout the district.  What a pleasure her candidacy is.

The race was also interesting for other reasons.  It was the most expensive legislative race in the State with two Democrats spending more than $4 million to politically rip each other and to convince voters. In at least one case, that, despite the “D” after his name and the years as the Governor’s campaign manager and political consultant, Steve Glazer was the “conservative” in the race.  Interestingly, while trying to convince Republicans and Decline to State voters of his conservative pedigree Democrat Glazer was concurrently sending out mailers to Democrats denying he was the conservative in the race.

This campaign will be a “barn burner” in the November election; Ms. Baker’s  opponent is Democrat Tim Sbranti .  It appears that Mr. Sbranti, the Mayor of Dublin and former Chair of the Political Involvement Committee of the California Teachers Association, is little more that the stalking horse of public sector unions in their bid to  protect union pay, benefits,  and pensions.

If public sector unions were willing to spend more than $2 million for this seat in the primary, how much will they be willing to spend in the general election?  They collect more than $1 billion annually in union dues, so $5 million is not out of the question and a hundred million or two wouldn’t strain them in the overall election.  Their largesse proves that public sector pay, benefit, and pension packages are extravagant and a detriment to the State.

My “second” favorite candidate in the California Primary

My second favorite candidate in the election is actually a threesome: Peter Kuo, a Republican running for the State Senate in District 10 (okay, the district is in Alameda County, not in Contra costa, but I have been fortunate enough to campaign with Peter and am impressed), and two Congressional candidates, Judge Tue Phan, running against Mark DeSaulnier in Congressional District 11 and Tony Amador, running against Jerry McNerney in Congressional District 9.

Peter Kuo

Peter, whose given name is Chung Cheng Kuo (and who is named Peter after newscaster Peter Jennings),  immigrated from Taiwan as a child; he  IS the American Dream, working in his family restaurant until he was 24, starting and successfully running several businesses and serving on multiple community organizations’ Boards of Directors.

Kuo is running for office because he has worked hard and achieved the “American Dream” and wants others to have the same opportunities.  He campaigned well and finished in the top two with a greater vote than anyone predicted.  Watch him; he is really good, smart and dedicated and plays a mean violin.

Tue Phan

Judge Tue Phan will run as GOP candidate iin the race for the vacated Congressional District seat in CA-11Then there are Tue Phan, and Tony Amador.  “Judge” Phan, who is running for Congress in the 11th Congressional District, immigrated to America from Vietnam as we were evacuating our Embassy in 1975.  He arrived in this country with his wife and children and $.45 in his pocket.

Working as a dishwasher, busboy and at other manual labor/minimum wage jobs he attended law school, passed the bar, became an attorney and, ultimately, a Federal immigration judge.   I have been to his home and met his extended family and again, this is America at its best.

Tony Amador

Tony Amador is a Republican congressional candidate who despised being referred to as his family’s “anchor baby” after being born here when his mother, fleeing the Mexican revolution, immigrated from Mexico.  Born in Utah, graduating from high school in San Diego, Tony was a policeman for the L.A. P.D. for 13 years and the first President of the L.A. Police Officers Protective League.

He went on to be appointed by three Governors to State positions as a member of the Narcotic Addict Evaluation Board, the Director of the California Youth Authority and Deputy Director of the Employment Development Department.  George H.W. Bush then appointed Tony to the U.S. Merit System Protection Board for 7 years.  Returning to California he was then a member of the California Public Employment Relations Board until his appointment heading the U.S. Marshall Service for the Eastern district of California, retiring in 2009.

Tony knows law enforcement, government personnel issues and managing large government organizations, things his opponent Congressman Jerry McNerney clearly knows little about.

2014 California Primary Bottomline

The bottom line on my experiences in the election is that I am inspired by the current Republican candidates I met and worked for and have experienced the rebirth of the Republican Party in California.  Our Statewide candidates did exceptionally well in the primary and are positioned to return the Republican Party to statewide offices in November.  As Republicans, let’s remember that now is not the time to rest.  Republicans need to continue the push that is reviving the party today and the State tomorrow.

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