Recently, some friends asked my advice for the 53rd Congressional District race. With Rep. Susan Davis retiring after 20 years in Congress, the 53rd District will have a new representative come January. But, as you’ve no doubt noticed, there isn’t a Republican on the ballot. Because of California’s top-two primary, two Democrats advanced from the primary: non-profit executive Sara Jacobs and San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez. It is frustrating to not have a Republican candidate in the race but is that an excuse to sit this one out?
The Republican Party does a great job of creating a voter guide every year. You can find it here.
You will notice that it says, “no endorsement” on the race for the 53rd. It would be very easy to vote in the Presidential race and just skip over the Congressional race without a Republican to vote for. I argue that would be a bad decision.
When given a tough decision in politics, I recommend you start with your principles. As Samuel Adams said, “let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote… that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” Perhaps more quotable is a statement often attributed incorrectly to Thomas Jefferson: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
I believe that voting is both a privilege and a duty. That sometimes leads me to an election day dilemma if I feel I am choosing the lesser of two evils or if I feel that I don’t believe in either candidate. For that reason, I prefer to meet and get to know candidates for political office. I have been pleasantly surprised more than a few times.
As a resident of East County, sometimes it feels like downtown politicians just don’t get us or want to know us. I appreciate it when a candidate makes themselves available and works hard to understand your issues (even if you disagree) and works hard for your vote. That is what I have seen in Sara Jacobs.
Last week, I had the chance to meet with Sara over lunch in El Cajon, joined by a group of Republican civic and business leaders. I was impressed in our meeting by a number of things. In her ads on TV, she talks about a willingness to “listen to everyone, respect everyone, and work across the aisle to get things done.” Her showing up to a meeting where she was entirely outnumbered by Republicans was the first sign I had seen that she was serious about that promise.
Admittedly, I have some concerns. However, Georgette Gómez was endorsed by the Democrat Party for a very good reason. It isn’t that she is more conservative than Sara Jacobs or that she shares East County values. Just a look at her list of endorsements should give you an idea of what Georgette will do if elected.
Although there are two Democrats running, it is the Republicans who will decide who wins this race. As Republicans, we have a golden opportunity to stop the Democrat’s preferred candidate and vote for someone who is more likely to reach across the aisle. If principles don’t call you to vote in every race you are legally entitled, maybe the strategic reasons speak to you.
So, this election, don’t skip the CA-53 Congressional race. There is plenty of reason to vote… even if the choice is between two Democrats!
Justin Schlaefli is a small business owner, a graduate of SDSU, and a resident of East County.