Political Fix (7 January, 2015)

We Need To Talk About Trump

My 21-year-old son sits in front of the TV while eating his lunch and frets over Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s polling numbers. One of the last polls before the New Year had Mr. Trump at 38%. After months of hearing the same numbers, it’s easy to believe that Mr. Trump has 38% support of all voters. But these respondents are likely Republican voters. Also, it’s one thing for a respondent to tell a pollster over the phone, “Yea, I’d vote for Trump,” and another to make the effort to get to the ballot box and put a check next to controversial politician’s name.

When one takes into account that 42% of American voters are either Republican, or lean Republican, that 38% translates into slightly under 20% of the general public. Twenty percent is nothing to sneeze at, but it won’t win a general election. Seeing as his base is White, uneducated, middle-aged men, he may not even end up winning many primaries. Right now Mr. Trump has double-digit lead in the polls but that could be an illusion. Iowa will hold its primary on February 1, New Hampshire on the 9th, and South Carolina the 20th. I predict that after those first primaries are done a completely new picture will emerge, with completely new front runners, and I don’t think Mr. Trump will be among them.

All of the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, are hammering the voters in those three states with campaign stops, phone calls and television ads. A Jeb Bush consultant said that over half of Iowans will be making up their minds this month, and the same is probably true in New Hampshire. So it’s worth it for the laggards, even Mr. Bush, to pound the pavement.

A political blogger on Huffington Post pointed out that liberals and conservatives are “slowly wrapping their minds around the concept that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination.” With Mr. Trump as the Republican nominee, the down ballot Republicans will have a difficult road to victory as Democrats will be coming out of the woodwork to make sure that Mr. Trump does not take residence at the White House.

“The Republican Party will be defined by the candidate who wins the nomination, not the candidates who lost,” said a Rubio party insider. Establishment Republicans have acknowledged their fate wouldn’t be much better with Ted Cruz at the top of the ballot.

Some political pundits go even further, saying that it is not impossible that Donald Trump becomes America’s next president–which brings us right back to my son’s fretting over his lunch while watching the news. It isn’t impossible, it’s just almost impossible. A recent finding by a Marco Rubio pollster said that the Republican presidential nominee will need 40% of the Latino vote to win the White House. Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney only carried 23% of the Latino vote in 2012, and that is without calling them rapists and drug dealers.

During his many stump speeches Mr. Bush extolled the New Hampshire voters, “The question is will New Hampshire want to support a guy who might tarnish this extraordinary reputation that you have, which is first-in-nation status…. New Hampshire is an extraordinary part of this process and I don’t think Donald Trump is going to survive New Hampshire to be honest with you, because I have too much confidence in you all.”

I said in the September 17 Political Fix that I had changed my mind about wanting to see a debate between Hillary Clinton and Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina. I’d rather see a debate between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump. Now I may get my wish.

The Best Local Race Ever

The biggest and most news-making race of the year is going to be Tulare County Supervisor District 3 between incumbent Phil Cox and Visalia City Council member Amy Shuklian. Someone else could enter the race as the filing period is open until March 11, but it would be a waste of time and money unless the individual had similar name recognition. Ms. Shuklian and Mr. Cox have already been featured several times in Political Fix, where I have disproportionately criticized Supervisor Cox. The Valley Voice does not endorse candidates, and our criticism doesn’t mean that he would be a better or worse supervisor than Ms. Shuklian.

That being said,I was sorely disappointed that no one representing the Tulare County Board of Supervisors (TCBOS) was present at the Visalia City Council meeting to support the city’s efforts to win over Nordstrom. A proposed Nordstrom fulfillment center is the biggest thing happening right now in the Central Valley, and would be one of the top employers in the county. Representatives from Dinuba, Porterville, Tulare and Farmersville were there and verbalized their respective city’s support–but the TCBOS was MIA.

Seeing as the City of Visalia is in Supervisor Cox’ district, it would have made sense that he make a showing at the council meeting to demonstrate to Nordstrom the county’s united front with the city. Ms. Shuklian emphasized that what is good for Visalia is good for the county and that the county coffers stand to greatly benefit from a million square-foot distribution center. “So where was he?” she queried.

Nordstrom has not yet made up its mind, so far be it for the Valley Voice’s first article in mid December to bring up anything remotely negative about choosing Visalia. But now, George Hostetter’s article in The Fresno Bee let the cat out of the bag saying about Fresno, “I don’t know City of Visalia/Tulare County politics. I can’t believe things are as bitter there as they are here.”

It’s true that the TCBOS should have been actively involved with the City of Visalia in this process, but it is also true that politics are not so bitter here in Tulare County as they are in Fresno County. The relationship has actually evolved from bitter to just petty – so all is good here and Nordstrom should pick Visalia if they do not like nasty politics.

The Magical Mystery Tour That Is the 26th Assembly Race

So far the race for the State Assembly District 26 is between a no-name candidate and a barely-known incumbent. Whether Assembly member Devon Mathisis even aware that Porterville native Alexzander Acevedo is challenging him is unknown, like many things about this race. But Mr. Acevedo is quite confident that he will win. At the ripe old age of 23 he said this isn’t his first political race and that he is used to being the underdog. He wasn’t clear on what political races he was referring to, but said that he had volunteered for State Senator Andy Vidak, so he “knows what happens inside campaigns.”

This may not be his first campaign, but it will be the first time in his life he has voted. Mr. Acevedo has no record of voting in Tulare County and I am assuming he might take the time to register in 2016,at least for the sake of voting for himself.

I called Mr. Acevedo around New Year’s Day wanting to see if he was ready to give me that interview he promised me months ago. He said that his platform is set but he doesn’t want to reveal its contents until February.

“People might forget what’s in it if it comes out too early.”

He also wants to keep the name of his campaign manager confidential because he wasn’t sure who I was and that “anyone calling could say they were from the media.” In fact, he wouldn’t be giving any information out to any media until he saw their tax identification number and they could prove they were who they said they were.

I asked Mr. Acevedo, “You don’t read the Valley Voice?” He said “Of course, but not every day.”

In the Mathis’ camp, the Valley Voice finally got its first correspondence since the Director of Communications, Matt Shupe, got angry with me over a Political Fix blurb. The correspondence was a newsletter sent to me but addressed to the editor–classy. The newsletter reviewed all of Mr. Mathis’ legislative successes for 2015, citing three articles from The Fresno Bee, three from the Visalia TimesDelta, and none from the Valley Voice.

This is strange because during Mr. Mathis’ first year in office we were the only paper to consistently cover his press conferences, town hall meetings and speeches. Not only was the Visalia Times-Delta MIA for almost all of Mr. Mathis’ events, but its editorial page listed former Assembly member Connie Conway as Visalia’s representative in the Assembly fully six months into his term. The Valley Voice’s excellent rapport with the Mathis camp disappeared with his staff, of which none of the originals remain.

Mysteries abound around this Assembly race concerning both candidates. At the end of my conversation with Mr. Acevedo I couldn’t figure out if this guy was for real. What or who got Mr. Acevedo motivated to enter the race, and is he who he says he is?Should we ask for his tax identification number?Is he a plant to split the Hispanic vote in case another well known Hispanic joins the race? Are his intentions for running for office genuine?

And what about Mr. Mathis? Is he the man who showed up at the grand opening of the Democratic Central Committee’s office with a proclamation declaring mutual support,or is he a Sharon Grove Conservative? Or is he just an opportunist?

Mr. Mathis no longer has the winning team that ushered in his surprise victory in November of 2014, but I doubt he is going to need it. When voters get to the ballot box they are going to see a capital “I” indicating “Incumbent” next to Mr. Mathis’ name. But after two conversations with Mr. Acevedo, I still haven’t figured out what description will be next to his.

Looking back on 2015

I don’t shy away from controversial issues when writing Political Fix. I don’t get much feedback, either. But the letters I do get are well thought out, articulate, and virulently against my opinion. I have disagreements with some of my readers but I have never been blatantly wrong – until our December 3 issue.

While that issue was running off the presses the morning of December 2, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. Fourteen people were killed and 22 injured. Farook, who was born in the US and was a county worker, was a radicalized American Muslim.

Call it bad luck or naiveté, but a blurb in my Political Fix column that day stated that the homegrown terrorist attacks that happened in Paris could never happen in the United States. The American Muslim population was better integrated into our culture and would not plan a terrorist attack.

Even if the mass shooting in San Bernardino had not happened that day my column still wasn’t completely accurate. The 2009 Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan, was an American Muslim who fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others–although it was later determined that he was motivated more by his mental illness than Islamist extremism. Ironically, he was a psychiatrist. Then a vigilant reader emailed to say that the younger brother of the Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an American citizen. He chose September 11, 2012 as his day for naturalization.

So my refrain, “That is why, when Americans are killed by terrorists, it’s not by American Muslims” was not exactly true, and very badly timed.

It’s still going to be a rarity for American Muslims to hate their country enough to plot a terrorist attack, but now we know it’s possible.

A fellow writer forwarded me an article from an American Muslim woman who years ago was a journalist in San Bernardino. She was 22 years-old and fresh out of college when she called the managing editor of the city’s paper of record, the San Bernardino Sun, to ask him for a job which she eventually landed.

She said, “the December 2nd shooting rampage hit too close to home. And that these perpetrators claimed to practice the same faith as mine makes it even more difficult.It is difficult because these are not the teachings with which I grew up. These are not the characteristics of a true Muslim. Their behavior was not that of someone with the heart and soul of a Muslim. Not my heart and soul.

It is difficult because the shooters had no loyalty, not even to their own child.

But I do. Muslims do.”

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