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Congressman Rocky Chavez..?…No Thanks! by Doug Haaland

The California political landscape was rocked recently by the announcement that two long-term Republican Congressmen will not be running for re-election this year. Southern California Congressmen Darrel Issa and Ed Royce will be returning to the private sector and it only took about a hot ‘New York Minute” for pols across their districts to announce their intent to run for the seats.

Of the many political types racing to make their announcements, the one that caught my attention was that of Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (Purportedly “R” in AD 76). In the interest of full disclosure, I had the privilege of being a member of the Assembly Republican Office of Policy during Mr. Chavez’s first term in the Assembly, but more on that later.

What fascinated me about his announcement was the continued use by the LA Times of the phrase, “In the Legislature, Chavez has built a reputation as a moderate with an interest in veterans issues and education.” It’s virtually the same line they used in early 2013, in the article covering his announcement about his run for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the departure of Barbara Boxer.

In the article about his bid for the 49th Congressional District was a quote from the would-be candidate saying, “It’s time we come together and focus on progress, not partisan politics and gridlock,” Chavez said in a statement Wednesday. “This has guided my work in the state Assembly and it will guide my work in Congress.” (Emphasis added.)

The last time Mr. Chavez and his merry band of Moderate Republicans came together and focused on “progress,” California got one of the largest tax increases in its history. I hope the voters of the 49th CD will take a moment to consider what his philosophy of “progress” means to taxpayers in the district.

But lest you think I’m being too harsh (and partisan) by only looking at his recent actions let’s look at some of the things this congressional hopeful has done over the years in the name of “progress.”

As previously mentioned, I was part of a great group of policy consultants serving members of the Assembly Republican Caucus and made up of a very dedicated folks from across the philosophical spectrum. Each of us was dedicated to ensuring Republican Members had a clear understanding of the policy impacts of the bills they were dealing with daily.

During Mr. Chavez’s first year in the Legislature he participated in a panel discussion at a Leadership CA event. During the event, Mr. Chavez declared that he believed, “The Republican Caucus policy analysts are to the right of Hitler” (Emphasis added.) This declaration by a Member of the Caucus I served caused me to believe with friends like “Rocky,” I didn’t need enemies and I ended my career in the Legislature.

Fast-forward to 2015, when Mr. Chavez decided to replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate. While his stint as a candidate was short, it was insightful.

During a meeting with an East Bay Republican Central Committee he experienced “push-back” for his views on immigration and the Common Core curriculum. However, his response to a question about global warming drew the loudest voices when he said he agreed with “U.S. military leaders” who believe the “…greatest threat facing the nation in the Pacific is sea-level rise.” (Emphasis added.)

In an interview about the criticism he received he told the reporter a bunch of people have been “indoctrinated” to believe things about immigration, Common Core and climate change and his job was to “…to educate and enlighten them.” (Emphasis added.)

They may have known he opposed repealing and replacing Obamacare, they also may have known he didn’t vote to oppose making law enforcement cooperation with immigration officials discretionary. Hopefully, voters know he wouldn’t vote against making California a “Sanctuary State” or he was opposed to issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants because he wasn’t happy with the design of the license.

In the end, the campaigns of Mr. Chavez’s opponents will make their own cases for not wanting to see “Mr. Chavez Goes to Washington,” but I have my own personal reason.

It’s not because he publicly considered me to be philosophically worse than Adolph Hitler, nor is it his incessant pursuit of “moderation” that is only a mask for his liberal beliefs. Rather it’s his crassness put on display during a 2014 gathering I attended in advance of my own run for political office that year.

Rocky Chavez, then the only Hispanic Republican member of the Assembly, was the “featured speaker” at a training seminar for Republican candidates from across California. In the course of his speech he wanted to share his “technique” involving precinct walking in typically unavailable areas.

Mr. Chavez said he would usually drive his late-model pickup to a precinct and if he knew it was a “gated-community,” he would stop by his house and throw his lawnmower in the back of the truck. He found this an effective way to gain entry since “…everyone knows a Mexican is only there to mow your lawn, not knock on your door.” (Emphasis added.)

My reaction to his statement then was equal to the feeling I encountered when I read he aspires to represent constituents in Washington. I can only hope the people of the 49th Congressional District will make a choice worthy of the legacy of Mr. Issa.

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