As the March primaries near, three veteran Republicans came out to an informal meet and greet over the weekend in Riverside County. Chairman of the Riverside County Republican Party, Jonathon Ingram brought together, former Congressman Darrel Issa, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, and Murrieta City Councilman Kelly Seyarto to meet members of the community in a Murrieta neighborhood called Greer Ranch. The trio of conservative candidates is fighting to maintain Republican seats and are considered the strongest candidates to fend off the Democrats. The candidates are running on similar platforms, which include supporting entrepreneurship and lowering taxes.
“We don’t need a supermajority, what we need is a seat back at the table. These three candidates are powerhouses. It is very hard to get on committees unless you are a pit-bull. These people need to be elected. They are the pit-bulls.” said Ingram.
Issa who represented the 49th District from 2001-2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives, threw his hat back into the ring after federal corruption charges were filed against Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA). Hunter eventually resigned from the House of Representatives and pled guilty, leaving his seat vacant.
In September Issa kicked off his campaign by announcing he withdrew his nomination for a senior position in President Donald Trump’s administration, to run for Congress in the 50th District. The district includes East County and Inland North County San Diego and a small portion of Riverside County.
Issa’s nomination to be the director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency stalled in the Senate for over a year, but he had long been rumored a candidate to replace Hunter. Issa said he flew back to D.C. with President Donald Trump after he visited San Diego last year to discuss the congressional race. Hunter won in 2018 only by a narrow margin against Ammar Campaign-Najjar, a Democrat who is running again for the office.
“I am running on my record. For 18-years I had a 100% right-to-life voting record,” said Issa.
“I didn’t get confirmed with the Trump administration, but it created a unique opportunity when Duncan Hunter announced he was going to change his plea and not run. Four of the five conservatives got out of the race and endorsed me,” said Issa. “I hope to head the Foreign Affairs committee or Energy and Commerce. But the fact is I will rejoin the people I have served with for 18-years in the leadership of Congress to support President Trump‘s second term. There is a lot left to do.”
The California Globe asked Issa how he plans to counter the union’s attack on American jobs with state laws like Assembly Bill 5 and Congressional bills like the Pro Act (H.R. 2474).
“There is an attack on entrepreneurship. If you take away a person’s ability to be an independent small business owner by making everyone an employee, you will suddenly say to the writer, the artist that there is no such thing under democratic socialism, entrepreneurship. I guarantee we will end up like Eastern Europe,” said Issa who is also a business owner. “In America, we have the ability to spring up from nothing and become rich.“
Although AB 5 is law in California, Issa said there are ways the federal government can counter the attack on independent contractors, “There are ways in congress we can create safe havens for people involved in interstate commerce. The President is supportive of that which says, California can define the employee if they really want to but they can not define the interstate commerce business person. So there are things we can do.”
Issa turned the microphone over to Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), who he endorsed for the State Senate seat in the 67th District.
Melendez joined Issas comments: “AB 5 was a union written bill and we know that Lorena Gonzalez who authored it wants everyone to be in a union. She tweeted it. That is on record. In a state that is number one in poverty why in the world would you pass a bill that puts people out of work.”
Melendez was first elected to the State Assembly in 2012. Since being elected, Melendez has fought for lower taxes and authored legislation to make it easier to build affordable homes. She pushed efforts to stop high-speed rail funding and reprioritize it to fix crumbling roads. She authored one of the most sweeping workplace harassment reform laws in the last decade and led the efforts to restore the rights of independent contractors.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and Melendez were the first lawmakers to try to overturn the state’s controversial new law, AB 5 that killed the gig economy and freelancing and independent contractors in more than 150 industries. Kiley and Melendez are co-sponsoring an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have it overturned.
Melendez is running to take over the State Senate seat left vacant by Jeff Stone in District 28. Stone resigned on October 29 to become the Western Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Jeff Stone’s resignation came as a complete surprise for me. I was perfectly happy and content to continue serving in the assembly. But when this seat became vacant I was not going to sit back and watch it be taken over by Democrats who have been drooling over this seat,” said Melendez.
“That means I am willing to lose the last two years I had in the assembly but that is ok we have to take one for the team sometimes.”
As Melendez vies for the State Senate seat determined to keep the Democrats at bay, she endorsed Kelly Seyarto, a Murrieta councilman to replace her in the Assembly. As she passed her microphone off, Melendez touted her popular town-hall gatherings and encouraged Seyrato to continue the gatherings the district has become accustomed to.
“The 120 town-halls we have had since I was in office allowed the people to ask me questions about the legislature, and that’s a representative government,” said Melendez.
Seyarto who is also endorsed by the Riverside County Republican Party and the Riverside County Sheriff‘s Association said he will continue to bring to the district the same local representation the community has come to expect.
Seyarto served 35-years as a fireman retiring as a Battalion Chief in 2015. He also served on Murrieta’s City Council from 1997-2006 then again as mayor in 2016.
“I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Some of the things I am tired of are taxes coming down and being sold to us over and over. Prop 13 which is on the March 3 ballot is a bond. So for the past 25 years, we have been sold on bonds that would fix problems. Guess what they are not fixed,” said Seyarto. “I want to take my experience which is more than all the other candidates have together. Let me go to Sacramento and continue the great work Melendez has done.”
Seyarto also said he will pick up where Melendez left off fighting against AB 5.
California Proposition 13 is for a School and College Facilities Bond. According to Ballotpedia.org:
A “yes” vote supports this measure to authorize $15 billion in general obligation bonds for school and college facilities, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges.
A “no” vote opposes this measure to authorize $15 billion in general obligation bonds for school and college facilities.
Republicans are against another bond or tax being placed on the citizens of California. Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, is quoted on Ballotpedia stating, “Currently, there are strict limits on how much bond debt local school districts are allowed to carry. But a hidden provision of Prop. 13 (2020) nearly doubles the limits school districts can borrow. This means huge increases in property taxes are a near certainty. Who pays property taxes? We all do, either directly in property tax bills or through higher rents and other costs. Unlike the Prop. 13 from 1978, this Prop. 13 puts all taxpayers at risk of higher taxes.
Ingram said, “We can sit and complain about things all day long or we can get off our tails and get these candidates into office so we can have that seat at the table, instead of a one-party rule.”