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.

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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


  1. Rico Lagattuta says

    Pete Wilson was right! DeMaio’s position is right. Your emotional position is not valid.

  2. Allowing ILLEGAL immigrants into our country is not only unlawful, it’s unconstitutional. We know it and the communist fascist racist satanic democrats know it. We don’t need ‘reform’, we need our government to FOLLOW THE LAWS already on the books!! The main reasons dems want these unlawful people in our country is the FACT that they are losing more and more dems to reason (to the republican party), auditing voter rolls, running out of dead people and their pets to vote, and scared of another, more scrutinized attempt at voter fraud.

  3. The illegals I know DO NOT WANT MORE, they aren’t stupid they know that more will simply put pricing pressure on the current ones. The only ones that want more illegals are the Chamber of Commerce and farmers/ranchers and the rich for cheaper gardeners and house cleaners and construction companies for cheaper labor.

  4. Sorry John. You are partially right. The reason Dum Dum is ignoring the law is he (and other dems) hope the newbies will vote democratic.

  5. Above comments are SPOT-ON!!!

  6. Is it right to outsource most of our immigration to the Mexican cartels who have murdered about half a million Mexicans in the last couple of decades and who smuggle fentanyl that kills 100,000 young Americans every year, as well as meth and other drugs that ruin the lives of countless other Americans? Is it right that many of the people smuggled will work for these organized crime groups when they are released into the US, helping to build the cartels in strength on this side of the border? The idea that we should allow anyone who wants to come here because they “want to work and have a better life” to be smuggled in by the Cartels, that control the illegal border crossing is moronic. Stop rewarding illegal immigration and immigration by people who fraudulently claim asylum just to be released quickly into the US. These people are not being vetted and we have millions of them coming now. Let them come legally in limited numbers and vet them before they are released for God’s sake!

  7. The Facsists nazi democraps will pay a price in November,,,,,California citizens know how screwed up the democraps are…..If the Democrats ever lost California the Democrat party would be over….

    • Sorry Max and nice try but past history shows that the majority of Californians are only for themselves and not the betterment of California.

  8. Fake news. LOL.

  9. Are you actually supporting ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION in this ‘editorial?’

    Sorry, given today’s open border, DeMaio is right.

    You should rid your organization of RINOs in the meantime.

  10. The author of this article is totally wrong.

  11. who the hell is the editorial board. You sniveling wimps are even afraid to put your name on your work. Thank goodness for Carl.

  12. Confusing message author is sending. Is he happy that we are giving freebees to millions of people that came here unvetted, unvaccinated and probably bringing in more than TB to infect us. Not to mention, the terrorist cells and drugs via the cartels. They don’t look like they want for much many wearing Nikes, well dressed and ALL have phones and nice backpacks, dressing well. Why wouldn’t they come, free health care, food, education, housing all Biden could ever hope for or any of the progressive, Marxist DNC party of haters of America could want. Wilson was right, these people put NOTHING into our system and should be entitled to nothing including coming here without abiding by the existing laws that have always worked, it is called getting a sponsor and working not mooching. E verify used to work but everything the DNC touches is instantly contaminated. Never could understand why they hate the greatest country in the world and if they continue at this rate with their cheating, lying and creating a dystopian society we will all be living like a banana republic. Cuba living here we come, and I don’t mean the kind of Cuba that Sean Penn sees, not the rich side but the poverty-stricken side of impoverished prisoners called their populace.

  13. If Capital Review wants to review every politician’s comments about the border to nitpick every nuance, they are welcome to it, but they will be doing nothing else productive. So why attack this particular candidate? Why nitpick Carl DeMiao?

    Few politicians and activists have accomplished as much for Californians as DeMiao. He was the only member of the SD City Council to successfully stand up to the absurd demands of unions. His founding of Reform California has also stood up to the higher taxes cabal of Democrats repeatedly. Who else has, on their own, organized an ongoing operation that has the accomplishments of Carl DeMiao?

    DeMiao will be a fighter, in office or out, for Republican values. He has a decades-long record. Capital Review should point out all candidates who can compete with DeMiao’s history of fighting for California’s taxpayers.

    I question Capital Review’s motives.

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