Assemblyman Devon Mathis launched his campaign for Assembly District 26 today at an invitation-only event at the Visalia Veterans Memorial Building.
He was greeted by protesters asking him to resign.
A group of ten women holding signs saying “No means No” and “Put him in the slammer” lined the sidewalk outside the building.
One protester claimed Mathis approached them before his event started and said, “This is just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“I bet not as cute as the p***y you fingered,” the protester responded.
The protestors did not appreciate Mathis’ “cocky attitude.”
Three students from Redwood, who were part of the protest, were demanding his resignation because of an alleged sexual assault by Mathis against a young female staffer in April of 2016. The incident was first reported by the blog for American Children First, a nonprofit that “opposes illegal immigration and advances nationalist causes.”
“I’m sick of men taking advantage of their position of power. He is a bully,” said one student.
The protesters said that any office holder who inappropriately touches a woman should step down.
The attitude of the group of protesters was that the Sacramento police closed the case into the sexual assault but another investigation was about to open.
The attitude inside the Veterans Hall, where Mathis had just finished speaking, was the opposite. Mathis’ supporters believe that the Sacramento police didn’t just close the investigation, but exonerated him.
Visalia City Councilman Phil Cox has been a supporter of Mathis since he first ran for the California State Assembly in 2014.
His wife, Connie Cox, has attended many of Mathis’ events with her husband. She didn’t think it was fair for the protestors to say Mathis should resign over the alleged sexual assault if they don’t know him.
“I know him. I know his character. You would think being a sexual assault victim myself that I would be jumping on the band wagon, but I am not. I just think it’s a fad going on right now,” Mrs. Cox said.
Mrs. Cox is skeptical of the reports of Mathis’ partying lifestyle in Sacramento. She said she has spent hours talking with Mathis about family and sharing stories about their kids.
“He is a very good family man,” said Mrs. Cox.
A group of about 50 supporters attended the event where Mathis laid out the difficult issues of immigration, water and agriculture.
The consensus of the attendees was that Mathis was doing a good job on water and veterans issues, in particular during Porterville’s water crisis.
“He worked day and night trying to resolve Porterville’s water crisis. People were having to take showers at a church,” said Ruth Seeser, a family member and former staffer.
Cox said that during the crisis Mathis was the only one to have a direct line to the Governor Jerry Brown.
“He was very instrumental in getting water out to the east side of Porterville,” Phil Cox said.
Cox said that he has supported Mathis from the beginning because he always likes a new face in politics. He said that Mathis’ freshness was a benefit when first arriving in Sacramento.
Cox also said that he is an old time Visalian and did not appreciate the negative assembly campaigns in 2014 and in 2016 between Mathis and Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza.
He admitted that a Republican Political Action Committee mailed out negative fliers about his opponent in the supervisor race about Amy Shuklian in their 2016 campaign, but that he personally asked them to stop.
Brett Taylor, Executive Officer of the Tulare County Association of Realtors attended the event and said that the association has never officially endorsed Mathis, but has always supported him. He said that after the filing period is over in March that the association will be debating on whether to endorse him this year.
Taylor said that Mathis has always been very responsive to the association’s needs. When the association needed him to sponsor a bill outlining the differences between service animals and companion animals, he said Mathis acted quickly.
Taylor said that some renters had pet crocodiles that would tear up the home but that owners couldn’t evict because the animals were medically certified as “companions.” Mathis introduced a bill to clarify the issue “but Devon found out quickly – don’t mess with the animal lovers community and it didn’t go anywhere,” said Taylor.
Seeser said the Tulare County Republican Central Committee asking Mathis not to run for re-election was simply dirty politics.
“They haven’t wanted him from the beginning. They were never supportive.”
Towards the end of the event a supporter went outside with plates of food for the protesters.
“It’s hard to buy food when only getting paid $10 an hour,” the supporter said, referring to President Trump’s claims that protestors at his events were paid to be there.