Party taps businessman from six GOP candidates in open Rocky Chavez seat
by Doug Sain
On Monday night the San Diego County Republican Central Committee voted to endorse Phil Graham (pictured right) for State Assembly District 76, which includes 246,653 registered voters in Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista and Camp Pendleton. The Central Committee is the governing body of the Republican Party of San Diego County. Each State Assembly district represents a population of over 465,000 California residents.
“I’m very grateful for the Party’s endorsement,” Graham said. “They are a truly diverse group of elected officials from around the county who come together to support an agenda of free speech, the US Constitution, individual freedom, and allowing people to keep more of the money they earn. This endorsement means a lot to my campaign and I’m truly honored to have it.”
Over two-thirds of the Central Committee’s approximately 50 regular members voted to endorse Graham, which is an unusual decision in a race with six Republican candidates. Central Committee Member Brian Brady said, “The committee voted to endorse Phil Graham because he is a leader we believe can enact his plan to return Republicans to the Assembly majority. We voted not just for a good Republican candidate, but a Republican leader.”
Graham beat out a list of Republican Party candidates including businessman Thomas Krouse, San Dieguito Union High School District Board Member Maureen Muir, Vista City Councilmember Amanda Rigby, former Encinitas City Councilmember Jerome Stocks and consultant Brian Wimmer for the highly coveted County Party endorsement.
These six GOP candidates are competing for the two-year term against two Democrats, Encinitas Councilmember Tasha Boerner Horvath and journalist Liz Warren, in the June 5 California primary election. The top two vote getters will then compete in the November 6 general election.
Current 76th District State Assemblymember Rocky Chavez is vacating the seat to run for the 49th Congressional District currently held by Darrell Issa, who announced his retirement from Congress.
The April 2, 2018, San Diego County Registration report states the 76th Assembly District is composed of 33.5 percent GOP, 33.2 percent Democrat, 27.4 percent Decline to State registrations, and five other parties comprising less than six percent of registered voters. The traditionally safe seat for Republican candidates is now only a +0.3% registration advantage, so this could be a very close race.
If the two Democrats get half the Decline to State voters and split Democrats equally, they could both receive 23.4 percent of the vote, while Republicans with six candidates could similarly split voters, so none of the Republican candidates emerge from the primary election. However, of the six Republican candidates, only Graham and Muir appear to have meaningful campaigns, and Muir chose to go on vacation rather than show up to seek the Central Committee’s endorsement.
County Republican Central Committee chairman Tony Krvaric said, “We are proud to endorse Phil Graham,” also endorsed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, California Governor Pete Wilson (ret.), State Assembly Republican Leader Martin Garrick (ret.), State Senator Mark Wyland (ret.), Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, County Treasurer Dan McAllister, San Diego Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, and State Senator Joel Anderson.
“Graham will represent the interests of district voters well in Sacramento,” Krvaric added. The Central Committee’s role is to choose a Chairman (i.e. Krvaric), endorse candidates and ballot measures, and develop a plan to gain voter support to elect Republican Party endorsed candidates.
Graham’s background includes an international business career that spanned seven years in Singapore. He is fluent in Mandarin. Also, Graham was an executive at the La Jolla-based Sanford-Burnham Institute, a world-renowned leader in cancer research. He helped create and fund medical research for cancer, as well as efforts directed at Wounded Warriors. He is a resident of Encinitas, graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business with a Master of Business Administration from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and was born and raised in San Diego. Phil’s background also includes volunteering for numerous local causes including the Founders Circle Board of the Preuss School at UCSD, the board of directors for Pedal the Cause, and a guest lecturer at Rady’s School of Management at UCSD.
# # #
Doug Sain, producer and executive producer of the political documentary movies 2016 Obama’s America, and Clinton Inc., is a long time San Diego political advisor, campaign consultant, and lobbyist. He also served as a San Diego City Council Representative, Legislative Aide, and Committee Consultant for Land Use & Housing, and Natural Resources & Culture.