No, Pete Wilson wasn’t right, and other takeaways from Carl DeMaio’s absurd ad

Former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio is invoking former California Gov. Pete Wilson in his bid for California state Assembly.

Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG

DeMaio’s campaign has released an ad highlighting the former governor’s stand against illegal immigration. Wilson championed Proposition 187 in 1994 which sought to prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving public services, including healthcare and education.

“Gov. Pete Wilson was right,” declares DeMaio on Twitter. “CA Democrats and liberal media blame Gov. Wilson and his strong position against illegal immigration for Republicans losing seats since 1994. I disagree – it’s time we make SECURING THE BORDER & ending illegal immigration a core message in CA politics!”

There are a few things to unpack here.

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For one, it has to be said that, yes, Pete Wilson’s fixation on undocumented immigrants blew up in the GOP’s face. As broken down by the Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh, while Hispanics in California split fairly evenly between voting GOP and Democratic in gubernatorial races in 1986 and 1990, ever since 1994, that has changed. Hispanics overwhelmingly opposed Proposition 187 and even decades later have associated the GOP with Pete Wilson, in a negative way, for the record.

This was anticipated by then-former Rep. Jack Kemp, who went on to be the Republican vice presidential candidate under Bob Dole in 1996, who warned at the time, “Where the battleground will be fought is if they want to carry this nationally and turn the party away from its historic belief in opportunity and jobs and growth, and turn the party inward to a protectionist and isolationist and more xenophobic party.”

If only he knew how prophetic his warnings were.

The idea that what the California Republican Party really needs is a return of Pete Wilson-esque rhetoric about people who come here to work and find a better life is nonsensical on its face. Republicans are in the superminority in the California Assembly and California Senate and a Republican won a statewide office since Arnold Schwarzenegger. If Republicans listen to DeMaio, their party’s irrelevance in California will only continue to deepen.

It’s also just practically hard to take DeMaio seriously. DeMaio claims he “will secure the border” as a Republican state Assemblyman in the superminority party. Sure.

His ad also claims he will fight sanctuary cities and work to enact a voter ID law.  Invoking voter ID in the context of an immigration ad is an obvious dog-whistle to those who really want to believe undocumented immigrant-voters are swaying elections. And while complaining about sanctuary cities is popular among those who don’t understand federalism or the separation of powers, here DeMaio is just complaining about policies which leave immigration matters to federal authorities so that local police can focus on enforcing state and local laws.

DeMaio’s whole “Pete Wilson was right” schtick may or may not boost his prospects at being among the superminority in the Assembly, but it will just make it that much easier for Democrats to point to the still-present xenophobic strain of the modern Republican Party.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Former San Diego City Councilman, Radio Host Carl DeMaio Announces Run For Assembly

DeMaio joins now three candidate race to replace outgoing Assemblywoman Marie Waldon

Former San Diego City Councilman and current radio host Carl DeMaio announced that he will be running for the 75th District Assembly seat on Wednesday, facing off against two other Republicans in the hope of replacing term-limited Assemblywoman Marie Waldron (R-Valley Center).

A graduate of Georgetown University, DeMaio founded a for-profit planning and management training think tank, and a financial and management training company. During this time, in 2002, DeMaio also moved to San Diego and joined the Reason Foundation. After selling both of his companies in 2007, DeMaio turned towards politics. The following year he ran for the San Diego City Council and won, becoming the first openly gay City Council member in San Diego history.

For the next four years, DeMaio became known as a major fiscal challenger on the Council, as well as major proponent of government transparency. While he passed many laws on the latter subject, he soon became an enemy of many in labor due to him trying to get around unions when outsourcing city contracts. This included his long-time rival Lorena Gonzalez, a future Assemblywoman and current California Labor Federation leader.

Unable to win reelection in 2012, DeMaio spent the next decade staying within the political arena while not holding any office. In addition to becoming a radio host in 2015, DeMaio tried and failed to win in several elections. In 2012 he ran for Mayor, but lost to then-Congressman Bob Filner 52.5% to 47.5%. Two years later, DeMaio ran for Congress and, only weeks before the election, was up over Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) in polls. However, in late October, DeMaio faced numerous sexual harassment allegations, hurting his campaign. While ultimately cleared, DeMaio wound up ultimately losing narrowly to Peters 51.5% to 48.5%. Another run for Congress in 2020 resulted in a primary loss, although his support for Republican Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) did help him win election in November.

DeMaio’s latest run for office

While DeMaio did see some successes, such as his effort to recall Democratic State Senator Josh Newman succeeding in 2018, DeMaio hasn’t returned to elected office since the end of his City Council office in 2012. However, with Assemblywoman Waldron being term-limited out of the 75th Assembly District, which covers an area from Southern Riverside County to the Mexican border, a rare open seat came up in his district.

Two candidates have already entered the race: Republican party preferred candidate Andrew Hayes, who is currently the President of the Lakeside Union School Board and a staff member for Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee), and GOP businessman Jack Fernandes. DeMaio decided to join the race on Wednesday, expanding the primary in the district to three candidates.

“I’m frustrated and I think that if we don’t change things now it will get a lot worse, millions of more Californians will flee the state and it will be too late,” said DeMaio on Wednesday. “We’ve got to have fundamental change and it starts with confronting the Republican Party, what’s left of it, and forcing them to change. I think the voters in this district know that I’m a fighter, and that while other Republicans will put their tail between their legs and cower or give up, I’m not going to go anywhere. I’m going to continue to fight till we take back the state.”

“I’ve had to deal with Lorena for 20 years, so I think I know better than anyone her tricks and her demeanor and it doesn’t faze me. I think labor has corrupted the process. Labor has been able to demand special interest favors that hurt Californians as a whole. The business community feels like they’re just kind of held hostage up there. And no one really puts up a fight. That’s the role of a minority party is to try to provide that balance.”

“My calculation is I have to show benefit to them. I have to help them. If the old guard wants to try to defend the death spiral that they’re in, I don’t think that’s going to be very palatable to voters and it certainly is not going to get us anywhere as a movement. I don’t worry too much about the naysayers.”

In addition, DeMaio noted that he would broadcast from YouTube frequently while in office and continue his work with Reform California.

Political experts noted on Wednesday that DeMaio stands a good chance at winning the election, although his past runs, as well as his lack of elected experience in the past decade, could possibly hurt him next year.

“DeMaio comes in as a name candidate and one who really wants to upend things for Republicans, which many GOP members in the state have been begging candidates to do for years,” said San Diego area pollster Jennifer Lopez to the Globe. “Pending on future candidates going into the race, especially a Democratic challenger, DeMaio will mainly have to worry about Hayes, who s liked by the party and currently holds public office on that school board. That may hurt DeMaio, but Hayes does not have the same kind of access to the media that DeMaio has either.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe