by Mike Harrison
I want to thank Brian Brady for his piece on my race for California State Assembly in District 71, making up East San Diego and Southern Riverside Counties. I appreciate his question, and the answer is important to our party, our San Diego community and our state as a whole. I agree with Brian, the next Assembly person from District 71 has more than an opportunity, but the specific responsibility to serve as both a leader and an ambassador of the GOP. One of the most important ways to make a difference in Sacramento is by making a difference here at home and we can do this by helping bring in more Republicans to work against the hostile environment that exists not only in our state’s capital, but at all levels of government.
Before I provide my response to Brian’s specific question, let me preface with this point. My absolute full focus and effort at this time is on winning this election. It is tempting to disregard AD 71 because it has traditionally been a Republican seat. Taking into consideration, however, the changes in the term-limit rules making this potentially a 12-year seat, the voters deserve to know that their next representative in the Assembly is ready to hit the ground running on Day One. This includes proactively working on policy issues, being consistent in words and action in both Sacramento and the district, and being a strong GOP leader on which our party and its leadership can depend. I meet those qualifications.
Having said that, Brian asked should I win in District 71, what would I specifically do to help a Republican win in the neighboring Assembly District 79; my approach is three-fold. The first and probably most important step is to carry the GOP message to every part of our community, including those that are not traditionally Republican. The reality of the districts Brian highlighted is that they are heavily Democrat in registration. It is imperative that an investment be made in voter registration to change those numerical barriers. Our Assembly members are well positioned to make that a priority and we need to actively work to broaden our appeal, not by compromising our principles but by committing to a sincere effort of dialogue with others on what we believe in as Republicans and why it is important. I am encouraged when I see our Republican Women groups registering people to vote and promoting the GOP message at street fairs, community events and swearing-in ceremonies of new American citizens. Far too often, however, these ladies are doing this important work alone. Our elected officials have the responsibility to commit to this same effort.
It is for this reason that in the course of my campaign, I have taken advantage of opportunities to reach out to Latinos, Polish-Americans, Chaldean-Americans, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Tea Party groups, small business groups, young students, the elderly, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, urban areas and rural backcountry communities. If you look at the demographics of the areas in which I am running, you will notice that some of these groups do not make up a large part of the district population. I understand this. But our challenges in San Diego are region-wide and not confined to the East County in AD71. I am fully confident in the pro-freedom, less-government, common sense message we as Republicans have to offer and am committed to carrying it forward wherever I have the opportunity.
The second step is to actively recruit and mentor qualified candidates to run for available seats, not just for the Assembly, but at every level. These individuals need to be fully prepared for the vigor of a competitive campaign. These seats Brian specifically mentioned are not going to be easy to win from the Democrats and those who run for those seats need to understand this from the start and commit themselves to providing full effort. Despite having over 20 years of public policy experience working for an elected official with both Congressman Duncan Hunters, one of the best investments I made was participating in the GOP Candidate Training course facilitated by our party leadership here in San Diego. While not a participant, I have also been supportive of the Candidate Boot Camp Woody and Donna Woodrum have organized. As an elected official, I will commit myself to support and remain actively engaged in our party’s efforts in the recruitment and training of qualified candidates that have the highest chance of success for the seats in which they are running.
Finally, Brian gave the analogy of being tired of “playing checkers with two red checker sets.” He is exactly right; we need to do a better job of thinking strategically. It’s been said before, politics is chess, not checkers, and my third step is to utilize a big-picture approach to achieving the goal Brian outlined. Going to all these different type of groups I’ve learned that we as Republicans need to do a better job of running on things, and not just against things. We are very good at pointing out the problems in DC and Sacramento, but deep down, people want to feel like they are part of the answer and they want to support someone who has proactive ideas and possible solutions to the challenges we are facing. I have several ideas and proposals in areas like water management, veteran homelessness, and small business growth that I have developed in partnership with stakeholders dealing with these specific issues. As a proactive, solution-oriented office holder, I intend to serve as an example to other candidates what it means to not only be a Republican, but a public servant.
Brian, thank you again for the opportunity to discuss this important issue and I appreciate your service and that of all our Central Committee members to our party. Please let me know if you have any further questions, I’m always available.