A Choice 7/20/12

In years past, Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) has run unopposed in his bid to be re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.  First elected in 2003, Nunes has been a loyal Republican, voting with the party 94.6% of the time, earning him the rating of “rank and file Republican” from GovTrack.  In the 9 years of his tenure, he has become a darling of the right, being picked as one of Time magazine’s Top 40 under 40, and labeled a “rising star” in the Republican party.

Looking at Tulare County, however, one could reasonably wonder how those 9 years have benefited the majority of citizens here.  Persistent poverty remains a serious problem, unemployment levels are some of the highest in the state, and infrastructure continues to deteriorate.  Nunes has consistently voted against bills that could improve the life and living conditions of his constituents.  PACs have been the dominate source of donations to his campaign, while individual, small donations (from “regular Joes and Janes) make up a fairly small percentage of his campaign bank account (according to Ballotpedia).

Stubborn poverty, low incomes, and struggling local governments in an county that is #1 in the USA in dairy production, and consistently #2 or #3 in overall agricultural production in the USA, is a strange dichotomy.  It is difficult to see how Nunes has used the position he has held for 9 years to benefit more than a few in his district.

Whether you agree with the way Nunes has handled his tenure in office or not, it is not in the spirit of American politics to have someone run unopposed for public office, especially an office as important as Representative.  This cycle, there is an opponent to consider, Otto Lee.

I had the opportunity recently to sit down for a chat with Louie Campos, the Regional Field Director for the Otto for Congress campaign.  Mr. Campos wanted to be sure our communtiy, the varied and growing number of people who openly identify as LGBT, had the opportunity to connect with the campaign, to express our ideas and concerns, and to work on getting word out that there was a choice in the next election.   As in many elections, it will be turnout that decides the outcome.  Looking at registration numbers in Tulare County, I was struck at how small the spread was between those registered as Republican and those registered as Democratic.  I had always been under the impression the difference between those numbers was much greater.

Mr. Campos stressed the importance of reaching voters, educating them to the choices, and making sure they were able to vote, as means of changing the sorry conditions of our district.  As wide ranging as our conversation was, it always came back to the necessity of getting out the vote.

This election there is a choice, and people in the new 22nd Congressional District need to be informed of that fact.

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