There are two imperatives this election year. First and foremost is the pressing need to defeat American authoritarianism. That need obliterates almost everything else. It can be addressed by withholding votes from Republicans no matter who or where they are and no matter what they’re running for. Led by Donald Trump, the Republican Party has made clear its opposition to free and fair elections, democratic rule, and commitment to the peaceful transfer of power, which ended with the Insurrection on January 6, 2021.
When Benjamin Franklin answered, “A republic if you can keep it,” to the question of what kind of government the Founding Fathers had decided on during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he acknowledged the perilous nature of democracies everywhere. Though the framers of the Constitution agreed that the new government would not be a monarchy, they struggled about where to place the final source of political power and authority. They finally decided to delegate it to the people.
Government of, by, and for the people is now endangered, just as Franklin knew it would be. Maintaining democracy requires vigilance, courage, and commitment to free and fair elections. As early as 2016, Donald Trump revealed his disdain for our form of government when he said he would accept the results of the presidential election, “If I win.” Many thought he was joking.
By 2020, however, it became clear Donald Trump never had any intention of abiding by the rules established by America’s Founding Fathers. We now know he was part of an ongoing program to subvert democracy and install himself in office via illegal means, including by incitement of an insurrection during the certification of 2020 election results by members of Congress and the Vice President of the United States.
Donald Trump remains the leader of the Republican Party. His chief enabler in the San Joaquin Valley is Congressman Kevin McCarthy, a documented liar who has made it apparent he would eagerly follow Trump’s lead to establishment of an authoritarian regime if such a regime were to make McCarthy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Defenders of American democracy have no other choices than to oppose Republicans on every ballot. Their corollary issue is which Democrats to support during the primaries. This year, the overriding need is winning. Squabbling about issues has to be secondary. Our recommendations are driven by the urgent need to win.
California Congressional District 22
Incumbent Republican Congressman David Valadao deserves plaudits for having the courage to vote in favor of impeaching Donald Trump. However, he remains a strong supporter of the Republican platform of regressive taxation, voter suppression, and disproportionate wealth inequality. Vote for Democrat Rudy Salas.
California Congressional District 9
Josh Harder’s upset of Republican incumbent Jeff Denham in 2018 marked the beginning of a seismic change in Valley politics. Since then, Harder has blazed a new path for Valley Democrats by showing a commitment to traditional Democratic values even while managing to achieve bipartisan cooperation on a host of issues important to Valley voters. Congressman Harder is a generational leader with a very special gift for acting in the interests of the people. Vote Harder.
California Congressional District 13
In most election years, the presence of two strong Democrats, Phil Arballo and Adam Gray, would offer Valley voters an intriguing choice between the nuanced positions of Gray and the more traditionally Democratic platform of Arballo. This year, however, winning is imperative. Republican candidate John Duarte has received backing from Kevin McCarthy that will ensure he has plenty of money and the Donald Trump seal of approval. He’s a formidable candidate.
Adam Gray’s long history of public service in the state Assembly, his excellent staff, and his status as the only resident candidate in District 13 offer Democrats the best chance for defeating Duarte and other Republican candidates. Gray is a proven winner at a time when Democrats must win. Vote Adam Gray.
California Assembly District 22
In another race where the Democratic vote would normally be split between Jessica Self and Chad Condit, the clear choice is Jessica Self. The Condit family has a long and honorable history of public service, but already is represented by two Stanislaus County Supervisors, Buck and Channce. Couper Condit recently resigned from the Ceres City Council. Family dynasties are seldom in the public interest, and Self offers voters a representative whose skills as an attorney will be essential on issues ranging from water rights to living wages and affordable housing. She will also bring fresh perspectives to a state Democratic Party in need of new voices and independent judgment. Self is a dynamic and policy-oriented citizen with unusual gifts for bringing people together. Vote Jessica Self.
California Assembly District 27
Few candidates in any election at any time have ever been as well qualified as Esmeralda Soria. Along with Congressman Josh Harder, the Fresno City Councilwoman is one of the Valley’s rising stars whose qualifications offer Valley citizens a rare opportunity for a representative who can bring the change we need. Vote Soria.
California Senate District 4
The strongest opponent against former Republican Congressman George Radanovich is Democrat Tim Robertson, Executive Director of the North Valley Labor Federation. Radanovich’s choice to run as a Republican may be based on his history of moderate positions on numerous hot button issues. If so, he’s lost touch with current political reality. There’s no room in today’s Republican Party for moderates, centrists, or others who would challenge Donald Trump’s hard line authoritarianism.
Republicans at the state level offer their constituents little other than symbolic opposition to an overwhelming Democratic majority. Their support for their party at the national level is a cancer on the body politic.
Tim Robertson has an intimate knowledge of the newly configured district and will be an effective representative for working people and a middle class increasingly punished by stagnant wages, rising housing costs, and regressive taxation. Vote Robertson.
Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4
Two former Modesto City Councilmembers —Mani Grewal and Tony Madrigal — are running for Supervisor in Stanislaus County. Both served on one of most dysfunctional councils in Modesto’s long political history, almost certainly because it was led by a mayor who had little interest in government and even less aptitude for governing.
Mani Grewal was appointed to his current position on the Board of Supervisors by Governor Gavin Newsom when Tom Berryhill died in office. No one questions Grewal’s political or social skills — he’s superb at winning friends and building relationships. He’s also renowned for his skills at business. The real question is whether he can translate those virtues to effective public service. Given his potential, voters should give Grewal an opportunity to deliver on the promise of his considerable gifts and talents within the context of new representation on a board where change has become a pressing need. Vote Grewal.
Stanislaus County Supervisor District 2
Twelve years in office is four more years than we give presidents. Terry Withrow has had twelve years on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors and is asking for four more.
By most any metric, quality of life in Stanislaus County has gotten progressively worse during Withrow’s long term. His refusal to wear a mask during public meetings provided a bad example and likely had a role in Stanislaus County’s much higher than average mortality rate from the virus that has killed almost one million American citizens.
Withrow’s claims that his “Focus on Prevention” program to address homelessness is succeeding are belied by the facts. Since the program’s inception in 2015, homeless numbers in Stanislaus County have doubled. His presence on Stanislaus County’s Groundwater Committee has not halted the depletion of the Valley’s last viable aquifer in eastern Stanislaus County. Groundwater pumping continues to drain the Modesto Basin.
With a budget surplus of over a quarter billion taxpayer dollars, the willingness of Stanislaus County Supervisors to hoard money while cities like Modesto, Patterson and Turlock suffer from burgeoning homelessness, lethal traffic conditions, and spreading urban blight is unconscionable. Stanislaus County residents deserve better.
Like Mani Grewal, Tony Madrigal served under Mayor Ted Brandvold on a historically dysfunctional city council. Like Grewal, his potential deserves an opportunity to serve under better conditions.
During his term on the Modesto City Council, Madrigal showed a willingness to ask difficult questions and challenge the conventional wisdom. Those qualities alone qualify him for a board that has for far too long avoided difficult challenges in favor of complacent satisfaction with the status quo. Vote Madrigal.