Santa Clarita Valley Signal : Who is best Demo for 25th?

By: John Zaring

Originally Posted: May 28, 2016

So the one good thing about this whole Bernie v. Hillary race dragging on – despite the hard truth that Sen. Sanders has zero chance of catching Secretary Clinton in the delegate count – is that local Democrats can count on a pretty strong turnout in the June 7th primary. And when does that ever happen? Umm, like never.

Given the historical dominance of the local Republicans in the 25th Congressional district, a high turnout could be just what the doctor ordered to change up the game a bit. I mean, let’s be honest, this whole ‘top 2’ primary nonsense hasn’t worked out very well for the local blue team, with Dr. Lee Rogers, who was the first serious Democratic candidate to run for Congress in well, forever, unable to get out of his primary in the last cycle, not because he wasn’t qualified, but because he ended up on the wrong side of a Republican blockade.

Neither Rogers or his supporters saw it coming. He assumed, based on the polling and gut instinct, that he’d finish first, leaving divided Republicans to select the runner-up. But Rogers took third, keeping him out of the race in November when blissfully apathetic Democrats tend to turn out in greater numbers.

Without a Democrat in the race, Ventura County’s Tony Strickland, the chosen successor of outgoing Congressman Buck McKeon, was left to duke it out with journeyman politician Steve Knight, a Tea Party sympathizer with extremist social views who ultimately rode his father’s name recognition all the way to Washington despite Strickland’s outright dominance in both fundraising and political largesse.

Two years later, both sides recognize that Knight is a vulnerable Congressman who has the dubious distinction of serving in what has been the most ineffective and despised Congress in history, promulgating out-of-the-mainstream views on things like Social Security – which he called “a bad idea” – opposition to equal pay for women, and even refusing to allow any exceptions to his abortion stance, even if a woman had been raped or it means she’ll die. Oh, and with Donald J. Trump having clinched the nomination with his big win in Washington on Tuesday, Republican turn-out could be depressed, which might impact Knight’s ability to fend off several challengers from his own party, including the Antelope Valley’s brash Jeffrey Moffatt, who just this week was disbarred by the State Bar of Arizona, the only state wherein he’s licensed to practice law, over a tawdry scandal involving a nude picture. Oh the drama, so Trump-like!

Meanwhile, Democrats will have to choose between two good candidates: LAPD lieutenant Lou Vince, who lives in Acton and serves on its local, non-binding Town Council, and UCLA grad turned Yale-trained Consumer Rights attorney Bryan Caforio, who was raised by two public school teachers here in Southern California and whose only fault appears to be having moved to Valencia with his wife Lisa late last year instead of ten years or so ago like Vince.

I first met Lou Vince a few years ago, when he ran for LA County Sheriff, and to be honest, I like him. He’s a nice guy, funny even, a great family man who is not at all what you’d expect from a career cop that has advanced through the ranks into a position of leadership. That said, I’ve found him to be surprisingly under-informed on many of the national and international issues that any Representative in the House will undoubtedly face, and that concerns me. He’s not running for mayor, and that seems lost on Lou’s most ardent supporters, a small but vocal group of maybe fifty local grassroots activists, the folks you will often see waving signs at Valencia and McBean when there’s something to protest. Sadly, Vince’s surrogates have spent the vast majority of their time gleefully trashing Caforio’s latecomer status on Facebook instead of attacking Knight’s record (you know, the actual incumbent with the fringe views).

As I’ve gotten to know Bryan Caforio, it’s become clear that he has a fierce intelligence that will help him overcome the ridiculousness that’s taken hold in our nation’s capitol. Sure, he’s a little stiff, you know that whole lawyer thing, and even though his family moved here late last year, he’s been able to quickly build a coalition of organizations, elected officials, and community residents in support of his campaign. If you just look past the noise, you’ll notice that he’s secured the endorsement of almost every prominent elected Democrat from across LA County and the State of California, including heavyweights Congressman Brad Sherman and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, as well as the Los Angeles County Young Democrats, nurses, school employees, not to mention organizations like Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Equality California, and the Alliance for Retired Americans.

Since it will cost a ton of money to compete against a sitting Congressman, weak record or not, the fact that Caforio has outraised Vince by a margin of ten to one, should not be overlooked by any Democrat who wants to win in November and not just place second in June. The fact that Caforio can go toe to toe with Knight on the issues, is also important. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee agrees, just having named him to their Red to Blue program that focuses on winnable races. The DCCC’s support, of course, has earned Caforio the ire of those grassrooters, but many of the same people also fail to recognize that Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic Party’s nominee, no matter how hard he whines and stamps his feet.

Because I’d like to win in November, I’ll be voting for Hillary AND Caforio in June. If you’d prefer to elect a Democrat, I suggest you do the same.

John Zaring has been a Santa Clarita Valley resident since 2000. He is a founding board member of the Hart District’s WiSH Education Foundation, and serves on its District Advisory Council, as a parent rep for West Ranch High School. He is proud of his two daughters, and has been married for 25 years. With center-left political views, he always puts country before party.

Originally posted on May 28, 2016
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