Republicans do have an opportunity with this race. I refuse to give up on my state.
A slate of candidates came to mind earlier last year, including some very appealing and respectable Congressmen (Dana Rohrabacher, Darrell Issa, Tom McClintock, Devin Nunes), and some former statewide candidates and officeholders (Steve Poizner, anyone?)
Former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was my top pick. A well-connected party official reached out to her on my behalf.
She said "Political office is not for me."
While more Republican office holder up and down the state said "No Thanks", one major Democratic contender launched her bid immediately: Attorney General Kamala Harris.
She had just won reelection the year before against underfunded opposition. Of course she was ready for this campaign.
A wrinkle shuffled her plans, though, in May 2015.
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez announced her own bid for US Senate.
Two minority women, both elected officials, with their own stakes and interest in running. Sanchez is more in-tune with the outsiders of the party, perhaps. Harris is tied (and tied down) to Northern California/Bay Area money.
Other Democrats said "pass" to avoid the already rising Democratic blood-bath.
Then the Republican candidates began trickling in.
Assemblyman Rocky Chavez jumped in and made a big splash first.
I was not sure what to think. I had heard that Duf Sundheim, the former chairman for the Republican Party, was also going to run, along with Tom Del Beccaro, who declared his bid after Rocky.
Former chairmen running for US Senate? Hmm.
Duf? Who is this guy?
I found out at the September, 2015 California Republican Party convention in Anaheim.
He approached me as he was going up to other people at the convention.
Here's what I wrote for Townhall.com:
There were other telling surprises for me, too. A number of Republican US Senate candidates aiming to replace Barbara Boxer showed up. My current favorite? Former CA GOP Chairman Duf Sundheim, who assisted the 2003 recall to throw out Gray Davis. An affable and friendly man who answered all my questions, he agreed with me and stood with Kim Davis (“She should have been accommodated”). He supports secure borders and E-verify. He recognizes this country’s frustrating battle ahead over federal entitlements. Most importantly, he is listening, seeking consensus rather than confrontation among GOP voters.
The three issues I cared about and pressed on with prospective candidates:
1. Entitlement reform
Duf may be a liberal to some, but when he vouched for protecting the individual freedom of conscience, I was already warming up to supporting him.
For the past six months, Duf has moved across the state, listened and learned. He is present and available for comment and direction.
Rocky Chavez recently made this decision easy.
Well, easier. He dropped out of the race and endorsed Sundheim.
So, the field is thinning.
Today, I choosse Duf to be my candidate for US Senate.
I never will. If I agreed with anyone 100%, I would need a psychiatrist.
So, the Buckley Rule is in full force with me: the conservative who is the most electable.
Duf has been consistent. He is honest about his views and honest about learning if he has to change his views. He wants a secure border. He is personally pro-life, and would defund Planned Parenthood.
He recently slammed Kamala Harris for not protecting the citizens in this state. She upheld the sanctuary city policy in San Francisco and did nothing to prosecute repeat offenders.
He is connected. I have seen him meet with all kinds of groups throughout the state. He even came to my first Beach Cities Republican club meeting, where I presided as President. He participated in a debate which Rocky Chavez had dismissed. I like candidates who are willing to reach out to all kinds of voters.
He is competent. He listens to people and he knows what a race for US Senate entails.
Duf's record exceeds his competitor as CA GOP Chairman:
1, A successful recall effort to remove Governor Gray Davis.
a. The next governor then repealed a tripling of the state's car tax.
b. That governor vetoed expensive infrastructure boondoggles
c. He reformed worker's compensation
d. He vetoed every bill intended to benefit illegal aliens at the expense of legal residents
e. He tried to push labor and education reforms.
Where Schwarzenegger failed, Duf Sundheim has succeed at the local level.
I want his record to continue at the federal level, too.
Every time I hear Tom on the radio or in an interview, he touts his new book The Divided Era, then talks about his Flat Tax.
So, he's selling books, then. Yawn.
Other than that, he is flat out of ideas.
Duf is working, reaching out. He is learning, and making connections. He has raised more money than the other two major candidates, yet does not complain if major donors or minor officials do not give him any money.
He is the only candidate actively discussing the water problems in this state. They are terrible. I cannot believe some of the stories I have heard about California residents in this resource-rich state who have no running water.
His record on pension and education reform, his attention to the need of all California is crystal clear.
He was even on TV this morning (2-14-2016) with NBC Los Angeles' Conan Nolan, and he presented solid ideas.
I like his record, and I trust his character. He is offering a message of hope for everyone, including young people, especially on college campuses, where undergraduates wonder what future to expect--and how to pay off those outrageous student loans. Duf is a team player, not a "me player".
I want him in the US Senate representing me.
Visit his website here.
Follow him on Twitter.
Learn more about him on his Facebook page here.
I endorse Duf Sundheim for US Senate!