INDIO –Jeff Gonzalez, a Republican political newcomer looking to unseat Democratic Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, is making a name for himself in the party earning three key endorsements in as many months as he heads into the June 5 Primary.
Garcia served as mayor of Coachella before being elected to the Assembly in 2014. He handily won re-election in 2016.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Dahle and Assembly Republican Caucus Chairman Jay Obernolte recently flew from Sacramento to the Coachella Valley to show their support for Gonzalez in his run for the 56th Assembly District.
“Jeff Gonzalez is a man that fights for our faith, family, and community and he’s a man of character,” Dahle said in a prepared statement. “I endorse him and support him.”
Obernolte, also in in a prepared statement, said, “I support Jeff because of who he is and his conservative values.”
Gonzalez, a Marine veteran and pastor who resides in Indio, earlier received the endorsements of both the Imperial Valley Republican Party and the Riverside County Central Committee for California’s 56th State Assembly seat.
The endorsements send a message that this election is critical enough to get behind one candidate, Gonzalez has said. I’m the one candidate who will hold Eduardo Garcia accountable and work for the families of the 56th District.”
A second Republican newcomer, Jonathan Reiss of Bermuda Dunes, is also challenging Garcia in the June 5 Primary. Reiss has lived in California for the past 35 years and has been a resident of the 56th Assembly District since 1999. A scan of his webpage reveals lots of pretty pictures but no hint of any endorsements.
He is also a newcomer to Twitter, joining in March 2018, presumably for his election bid, and to date has five followers.
Gonzalez is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Gonzalez gained upper-level management experience, served in numerous Counterintelligence posts and was an active participant and operations manager supporting U.S. and Coalition Forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, according to his bio. As head of the Marine Corps Crisis Response Center, Gonzalez provided direct support to more than 12,000 deployed service members.
Gonzalez was a volunteer at Saddleback Church and later served as the Outreach Pastor at Southwest Church. In 2017, Gonzalez began work with the Integrated Recovery Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on recovery programs for women veterans who suffer from Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The 56th Assembly District encompasses all of the Imperial Valley and parts of the Coachella Valley, or about 13 percent of Riverside County. The district is primarily rural and heavily Latino. Coachella Valley communities in the district are Bermuda Dunes, Blythe, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Center, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Mecca, Thermal, and Thousand Palms.