Thursday, September 5, 2013

How a Lady from Hawthorne from Helped a Farmer from Hanford (and the CA GOP)

Dorothy “Dottie” Martin, a native of San Diego and resident of Hawthorne California (Home of the Beach Boys), has been a frequent and faithful volunteer for the California Republican Party. A member of the Beach Cities Republicans (which includes the South Bay cities, Gardena, and the Harbor Gateway), Martin also attends the Lincoln Club, which meets in Torrance once a month.

Taking initiative to revitalize and expand the Republican brand in the South Bay, and encourage other conservatives throughout the state of California, the Beach Cities Republicans have set up work teams to investigate outreach and promote conservative ideas in the media, as well as in the business, education, and youth communities. Ms. Martin has been an avid participant, where she shared about her contributions to the Republican state senate upset in the Central Valley.

How did a lady whose town featured the Beach Boys and Gorgeous George get involved in the land of The Grapes of Wrath, featuring farmers, dustbowl migrants, and Arkies?

During the June meeting of the Torrance Lincoln Club, newly installed California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte visited to reinforce the gravity of the CA GOP predicament in Sacramento. Following the 2012 election, Republicans lost their power to stop Democratic overreach, and are now reduced to outside status with a Democratic supermajority. “Jerry Brown is the only conservative we can trust!” Martin paraphrased Brulte’s alarm. Imagine that: the GOP has to look to Governor Moonbeam for some sense of fiscal sanity in Sacramento.

“The pressure is intense on the Democrats. They all march in goose-step in the capital”, Dorothy shared with me. Even sensible Democrats are afraid to vote against their party. “The CTA (California Teachers Association), the environmentalists, and the public sector unions are in control.” The most important race for Brulte, Dorothy recalled, was the 16th senate district race in Kern County, where Vidak almost beat Perez in the primary, then at the last minute slipped below a simple majority to 49%, thus forcing a runoff.

“Anyone who can come, help us out. We need people who will walk precincts”, Brulte concluded. Dorothy heeded the call with her friend. Without pay, but receiving a paid motel stay in the Central Valley, the lady from Hawthorne and a girlfriend braved triple-digit heat to get out the vote for Vidak. As far as she was aware, she and her friend were the only ones from outside the district who were walking precincts for the cherry farmer.

I asked her about the campaign ads posted throughout the district.

“There were a lot of signs, but not for Vidak or Perez.” Most of the advertisements blasted the California High-Speed Rail Project, a billion dollar boondoggle ballooning away taxpayer dollars. The project hurts Central Valley Farmers more because of California’s imposing eminent domain demands. Farmers who have lived in the region for generations are facing forced foreclosures to make way for a high-speed rail project still going nowhere fast.

Walking precincts on the last weekend of June in Vidak’s home town, Dorothy spoke with Republican voters as a part of Get Out the Vote. “Anything to counter the union thugs who drag voters to the polls”, she added. “They [Republicans] thought that Vidak had already won the race!” She explained to the tham Vidak’s 49% win was not enough to prevent a runoff, which goes to show that the importance of informing Republicans to vote cannot be taken lightly.

Despite the heavy registration advantage for Democrats, Martin was not totally surprised that Vidak won.

“They are different Democrats [who live in the Central Valley]. JFK Democrats. Not left-wing nut cases.”

While liberal voters in the cities can live in fuzzy ideas and strange ideologies, farmers have budgets to balance, animals to feed, sales to make. “The EPA is killing us!” one dairy farmer told Martin while she was walking precincts. The tensions between the two regions have only worsened following water shortages made shorter because of draconian environmental policies. Currently, Valley farmers only get twenty percent of the water that they need from the Sacramento Delta. The Republicans who helped ushered in the 16th district win affirmed their emphasis on local issues as part of their strategy, portraying Vidak as a salt of the earth farmer taking on Big Government. “The fact that Vidak was a cherry farmer was a big deal. He’s a well-known name in the Valley.”

Could the same spirit that elected Vidak work in the South Bay?

“Yes, but it will be harder. We have Hollywood here. People live in their ivory towers. They have money. They do not live by the sweat of their brow.”

Still, the 66th Assembly District, which covers the South Bay from Palos Verdes to Gardena, contains only a three-to-five point advantage for Democrats, with Republicans and Independents splitting the registration almost evenly three ways. If a lady from Hawthorne was willing to take the heat, so to speak, to help a Republican farmer from Hanford win a state senate seat in a lopsided Dem district, then the South Bay’s chances for a Republican renaissance are looking rosier than ever.

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