The story I tell today is one of the hundreds of millions of failed candidacies that line the back streets and alleyways of all but forgotten memories, perhaps for the better. But this year, my past comes back to haunt me. You see, in 2014 I ran for the California State 28th Senate District seat. I lost. In fact, I came in Fourth. Three heavily financed Republicans, Jeff Stone, Bonnie Garcia and Glenn Miller all received higher vote totals than me. But, I posit the following, it was not the Republicans who beat me. It was the Democrats. Now, hear me out for if nothing else, I speak from first-hand experience, a rare commodity these days. First, a little background.
I moved to the Coachella Valley (CV) in 2009. As an outsider, I saw a region filled with hopes and dreams of a blue tomorrow, but unable to confront the myth of Ruby Red dominance, an atmosphere in which, particularly when it came to the 28th, was an untouchable GOP stronghold. A district that was purposefully gerrymandered to include how red can red be? Temecula leaving the CV as the tail end of the elephant. Everyone and I mean everyone told me not to run. So, I ran. Because I saw something different. Even at the beginning of what was to become the current Trump nightmare, I knew a thing or two about “change.” Change is as unpredictable as it is inevitable. It was in the air and maybe, just maybe it was time for a Democrat. But it wasn’t because the Democrats weren’t ready for it and here is why.
Lesson #1: Don’t play tribal, identity or divisive politics with a party, the GOP, that has nothing but one tribal identity and does not tolerate division. They line up and vote R. Period. Due to the inclusive, big tent approach of the Democrats’ false, manufactured divisions, for whatever reasons are easy to come by and once filtered into the rank and file is a blue candidate’s worst-case scenario. Once strength becomes weakness, a donkey divided against itself cannot stand, much less win.
Without going into detail, I found myself without the ability to put together a working coalition. With the addition of a second Democrat entering the race (at least I wasn’t alone in my insanity) and with primary day looming, I prepared for the worst. I was told if I didn’t get at least 5,000 votes it would be a disgraceful performance. Better if I had not run at all against the Big Red Juggernaut at all. I kept going.
As primary day ended, I was in second place and I went to bed thinking I would live to fight another day, in the General Election against Jeff Stone. But, then came the absentee ballots and ever so slowly and yes, painfully, I drifted into fourth place. To my knowledge, other than my own, no tears were shed and eventually, the top vote getter Jeff Stone, defeated the second highest vote recipient, Bonnie Garcia, both Republicans. But, there was a but…
When all was said and counted, as the highest vote gathering Democrat, I received 17,635 or 18.56% of the total vote. I missed getting into the General by 1,249 votes with virtually NO support from any democratic organization, apparatus or donors (except the Palm Desert Greens.) The “but” being I felt proud to have made a tangible, visible dent in the faux-armor encasing the Republican illusion of unquestioned political dominance in the Inland Empire. To that end, the 28th is the one district the Republican have always said they must not lose. But lose they will and the sooner the better. For today, Dr. Raul Ruiz serves faithfully and admirably as our Congressman, V. Manuel Perez is finally on Riverside County Board of Supervisors where he belongs and Eduardo Garcia tirelessly represents our interests in the Assembly. When the 28th finally falls, no more will the next “Republican in Line” take it for granted that he or she will receive the slightly less than royal fiat of Republican family dynasty and/or quite frankly, rampant cronyism.
I will end on a cautionary note. Today, I see us facing same winds and rough waters ahead as I once navigated through. But, if we unite, we can not only weather the storm but end an (Inland) Empire that never should have existed. Rome fell, so can the 28th Senate District. Unite and it will.
- Unity: Image by jerryzhuca from Pixabay