Democratic Congressional candidate Andrew Janz held a meet-and-greet in Exeter on Thursday, August 9th, 2018. The event was held at a house near the outskirts of town. At around six o’clock, people began to flood into the home and took their seats. Chairs were brought in from the outside patio to accommodate the audience of about 45 people.
Before Janz showed up, staffers milled about talking to attendees as well as setting up a table filled with shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons reading “Andrew Janz for Congress” and “Nunestan.” The latter button had the international prohibition symbol over it (the red circle with the cross through it, universally meaning ‘no’). It’s a clever play on the idea that Republicans are conspiring with Russia, which, during its USSR days, had several satellite countries ending in ‘-“stan.”
Audience members struck up conversations about various topics from their latest doctor’s appointment to the most recent national news. The turnout was largely comprised of white people over the age of 55, but there were several younger people and people of color there as well.
Soon, someone cried out, “Andrew’s here!” and everyone turned their attention to the door to see the man in question.
As soon as he walked in, he had a smile on his face, and began shaking hands and speaking with people. If anyone asked for a picture, he obliged and continued to speak with them.
After around 20 minutes, a staffer got the crowd’s attention and asked them to please sit. Janz and the host, Garrick Peterson, took the stage. Peterson introduced Janz, sharing with the audience that for years he had been praying for a solid Democrat to take over Nunes’ seat in the House and that Janz was “answering a prayer”.
Janz thanked him for his hospitality and his team for setting up the event with a voice that filled the room. He spoke on the current state of affairs in both Washington and his home district, sharing the news that a member of Congress was indicted, alluding to Chris Collins’ (R-NY) recent arrest for insider trading.
He went on to describe D.C. as a swamp that swallowed Nunes as soon as he took money from corporations, that he’s now beholden to PACs instead of his constituents. Janz also focused on the tariffs affecting farmers and continually claimed that he would work with and for farmers to secure water rights and fair prices on aluminum and steel for their businesses.
The candidate then turned to his opponent.
He shared the fact that Nunes hasn’t done a town hall since 2010 and promised to rectify that by pledging to hold at least two town halls each year.
He also spoke on the MSNBC scandal which broke late on Wednesday, August 8th. The Rachel Maddow Show claimed to have evidence of Nunes’ speaking at a private fundraiser of the imperative goal of keeping the House seats which would keep the Republican Party in power. Janz condemned Nunes for placing party and personal political goals above his constituents’ needs and/or desires.
“This is the most important election in a generation,” Janz stated plainly. “We’re fighting against Donald Trump’s agenda, an agenda of division and hate.”
He thanked the audience who, in turn, erupted into applause. After a moment, he declared that he would be taking questions. During this time, he doubled down on his belief in helping local issues and listening to his community.
Two questions that stood out from the slew of queries was his stance on abortion and his stance on the death penalty.
Janz shared with the group that he struggled with both topics. Ultimately, on abortion, he came to the conclusion that no one likes to have an abortion, and that it’s not something one seeks out, but the process should be there should women require it.
When it came to the death penalty, however, he wrestled with the topic a little more than he did with abortion.
He explained his background as a Fresno County prosecutor and he wanted to make sure that people know that until he is removed from his duties there, he has to legally uphold the law.
“I’m not going to go into work and tell my boss that I’m not going to do my job,” Janz expressed in defense.
He continued to explain his stance that he hasn’t made up his mind on the issue yet, but he’s currently bound by the parameters of his job to uphold the law of the state.
These are two of the biggest hot-button issues between Democrats and Republicans, specifically in this district. It creates a crevasse between voter camps, and it often leaves some behind floundering for a candidate that they believe in.
“We have a unique responsibility at this specific point in our history,” Janz claimed during his speech.