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There Are Now 3 Democrats Challenging Devin Nunes In CA-22

Dependably backward-looking DCCC 2018 electoral strategy is to target districts held by Republican incumbents that Hillary lost. In California that means going after 4 Orange County incumbents: Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters, Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce, plus Santa Clarita/Simi/Antelope Valley extremist Steve Knight and two in the Central Valley, David Valadao and Jeff Denham. The DCCC has largely ignored the Orange County districts and botched the other 3. It's what they do: botch winnable races. This cycle Ted Lieu was elected DCCC Regional Vice Chair for the West Coast and there is every reason to believe he will break the DCCC California Curse in 2018.

One thing Ted and his intrepid staff did immediately was to expand the search for new candidates, not just in the targeted districts but across the state. Suddenly the never before considered CA-22-- Devin Nunes' home turf-- was being seriously looked at. The district stretches from Clovis and the suburbs north and east of Fresno down through Dinuba, Visalia and past Tulare. It's around 46% Hispanic and just 41% white. Asians make up 7% of the citizens. McCain took 56% and Romney took 57% but last year the totals for Trump fell to 52%. The DCCC never backed anyone against Nunes but Ted would like them to this cycle. One problem-- for me at least-- is that the candidate to have stepped up, Andrew Janz, seemed like a hopeless Blue Dog. He's absolutely better than Nunes-- no question-- but not a candidate worth supporting unless the only goal was to get rid of Nunes (not a bad goal). Blue America, though, doesn't back "lesser of two evils" candidates-- and, alas, that's how I came to perceive Janz.

When I started talking with him, he was uncomfortable about the issues that are key to progressives-- like single payer, for example-- and he quickly changed the subject to the issues he told me are important to him and on which he said he wants to campaign: his love for the Second Amendment and his devotion to the Death Penalty. I was pretty shocked, not that these are his positions, but that that's what he chose to bring up to discuss about why Blue America should back his campaign. I asked him if he had a favorite congressmember he would emulate and would like to work on legislation with. Not a second's hesitation-- Blue Dog Jim Costa, one of the two worst Democrats in the California congressional delegation. Costa's voting record is barely that of a Democrat. ProgressivePunch rates him a solid "F." Only 8 Democrats have worse ProgressivePunch lifetime crucial vote scores than his horrific 43.64-- and all but a couple of those Democrats, unlike Costa, are in tough red or red-leaning districts. There are even some Republicans with better voting records than Costa! we don't need more Jim Costa's. We need fewer Jim Costas. In fact, Blue America has actually spent money and effort trying to defeat Jim Costa.

When I first wrote about him, I acknowledged that "Janz was a very raw candidate... Some campaign pros have gotten their hands on him and are teaching him how to speak to Democrats now. But they can't change who he is. Yesterday he sent an e-mail asking for money with the flyer [above]. Is there anything on that which tells you what kind of a congressman he would be? A little back story that means nothing and could just as easily belong to a psychopathic Republican. In fact, almost the whole thing sounds like it could have as easily been sent by a Republican. 'I'm not a politician.' That's what they all say, dude. It's just one canned meaningless line after another. If there's a massive anti-Trump/anti-Ryan tsunami we may have another crap Blue Dog in Congress but my bet is that he won't win, not even against as reprehensible a villain as Devin Nunes. What a waste! But... it's still early." I was hoping other, more progressive candidates, would show up. And they have. Brendon Alexander, writing for Valley Voice reported that on  June 16,  Tulare County-based Progressives United for Social Justice and Human Rights (PUSH) hosted a candidate forum in Visalia featuring several local Democratic candidates who are vying for Nunes’ seat. "Candidates speaking at the forum included Tulare City Councilman Jose Sigala, Fresno obstetrician-gynecologist Mallory Kremer, Fresno County deputy D.A. Andrew Janz, Bobby Bliatout, and Ricardo Franco. Still another candidate, Paul Vargas, was scheduled to appear but didn't show up. There were around 100 people.

The first question asked of the candidates was what was their vision for CA22. Andrew Janz was the first to respond, stating that he wants to “improve the quality of life in CA22.” He also discussed the California High-Speed Rail that will be coming in a number of years and how that will help push CA22 to the 21st Century. He further expressed his willingness to work with both Democrats and Republicans on all issues.

Each candidate seemed to have a similar goal in mind, to make the Central Valley a place where people want to live.

The second question asked was the strategy each candidate had to unseat Nunes. Franco explained that we cannot have someone who is only going to care about Washington D.C. and only meet with constituents in D.C. Dr. Kremer said Nunes has a “meal-ticket.” Janz also commented on the popularity of Devin Nunes by stating, “After Jon Ossoff is done on Tuesday, we will be the next big thing.”

Each candidate had the opportunity to respond to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Franco, frustrated with climate deniers such as President Trump and EPA head Scott Pruit, stated, “I don’t know what goes on in their heads.” Sigala and Janz, agreed that “we should have a congressman who believes in climate change.” Sigala also suggested that he has done more to fight climate change than Nunes has, saying that climate change is a threat to our national security.

“One of the ramifications,” Janz joked, “is Mar-a-lago is going to be under water.”

When it came to healthcare’s being discussed as a basic human right or a privilege, each candidate stated that it was a basic human right and should be treated as such. Bliatout said that taking away healthcare is more costly than providing it, and “it just doesn’t make any sense.” Janz reminded everyone that Nunes voted in favor of AHCA, which would potentially cut 23 million Americans off of health insurance.

On the topic of the LGBTQ community, each candidate overwhelmingly agreed that you are born that way and that LGBTQ rights are basic human rights.

The final question was extremely brief. “Should you be elected to Congress, would you support proceedings of impeachment against President Trump?” Each candidate said they would with the exception of Janz, who stated that, as a prosecutor, he does not want to jump to conclusions before hearing what both sides have to say.

Mike Rhodes covered the event for the Central Valley Progressive PAC and reported that "All five candidates at the Visalia forum consistently took progressive positions on important issues such as climate change, healthcare reform, fighting poverty and the need to elect a representative that reflects the values of the majority in the 22nd Congressional District."

Tulare County City Council Member Jose Sigala spoke about his deep roots in the area, connection to the civil rights movement, support for LGBTQ rights and how he was the only candidate in Tulare County endorsed by Planned Parenthood. The Central Valley Progressive PAC (CVPPAC) endorsed Sigala in his bid for the Tulare City Council, which he won.

Sigala said, “I was embarrassed to see that our President pulled out of the Paris Accord. As a council member, at the last council meeting I brought that up and said, ‘now it falls upon us, falls upon the mayor and the city, even a small city like Tulare, to do our part to clean the air, to make sure we can buy clean vehicles to transport our citizens, to make sure we do our best to reduce our carbon footprint.’ I believe it takes all of us, big or small, to make that change.”

...Ricardo “Rico” Franco spoke passionately about many specific issues but believes that it is our core progressive values that will take us to victory. He said, “When you start to talk about the things we all want, affordable healthcare, affordable education, help for our veterans, lots of good infrastructure around here so we don’t feel like we are leaving people behind. When we start talking about those morals and those values and we make it less about party politics and all of these catchphrases that anger people, I know that we can bring people together.”

Franco went on to say “that if we get back to our core values this region right here can shine and be a leader for the country. This is the most beautiful piece of gold in this entire state and it can shine for the rest of the country, not just to see who we are, but to actually lead and be a model for progress of what the rest of the country can be.”

Dr. Mallory Kremer talked about driving through the state and sees “that there are really two Californias. I see so much wealth and opportunity in the coastal cities, and in the Central Valley it feels like a completely different state. My vision is to share some of that opportunity with the Central Valley and to make it a destination, to fight the brain drain, to create economic opportunity, to have it be a place where people want to live.” According to Kremer, this can be done by “bringing medical schools to the Valley, improving education and the air quality. This will make this a healthier place to live.”

Candidate Bobby Bliatout is the CEO of the Greater Fresno Health Organization. Bliatout says that he started thinking about running for political office when he watched the attacks on the Affordable Health Care Act in Congress this spring. At the forum, he said that “healthcare is a basic human right. This country already believes that. I don’t care what anyone else says.

“Anybody can go into the emergency room and there is a law that says when you step through that door, they have to take care of you. They can’t take you anywhere else. So, we already believe that. To me, it makes absolutely no sense why we would try to yank away healthcare from these individuals. It would cost more! The ER is not the cheapest place to get your healthcare.”

Since then, Sigala decided not to run and I'm hearing Kremer and Paul Vargas are also probably not running. Bliatout, Janz and Franco are the candidates. We're going to get you more information on Franco and Bliatout asap.

Source: 
Down With Tyranny

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