Opinion Columns & Blogs

Will McClintock finally face a real challenge?

A crowd of more than 300, many angry, waited to speak to Rep. Tom McClintock in Mariposa in February; more than 600 came out in Sonora and another 450 in Roseville.
A crowd of more than 300, many angry, waited to speak to Rep. Tom McClintock in Mariposa in February; more than 600 came out in Sonora and another 450 in Roseville. Merced Sun-Star

Four determined women have stepped up to challenge one of the most conservative members in the House of Representatives, Rep. Tom McClintock.

Last week, the Calaveras County Democrats gave a large crowd of foothill voters an opportunity to meet these women.

McClintock’s record on women’s issues is probably not one he’ll be bragging about on the campaign trail.

In 2013, McClintock voted against the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

In 2015, he voted to defund Planned Parenthood, a healthcare provider for over 1.5 million women (it’s illegal for Planned Parenthood to use taxpayer funds for abortions).

He also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which guarantees equal pay for equal work.

The four candidates know McClintock’s voting record on women’s issues and his popularity in mostly mountainous district. Perhaps that’s why each is willing to step away from a successful career to run in what could be the first serious campaigns by a Democratic candidate for Congress in nearly a decade.

Regina Bateson of Roseville earned a Ph.D. in political science at Yale and was teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when she decided to come home for this race. She is a former State Department foreign service officer. Bateson believes no one working a full-time job should be living in poverty and unable to afford health care.

Roza Calderon of Granite Bay came to the United States as a refugee from El Salvador and graduated from Humboldt State. She is a geoscientist working as a contractor for state and federal agencies specializing in environmental and agricultural land management. She’s been endorsed by the Justice Democrats, a national organization fighting to implement Bernie Sanders’ platform. Calderon believes every American should have the same opportunity to be successful.

Jessica Morse of Pollack Pines graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton with roots that go back five generations in the Sierra foothills. For over a decade, she worked as a national security strategist for the Defense Department, State Department and USAID. Morse is proud to have been involved on the diplomatic side of the military, focused on ending conflicts and bringing troops home. She wants to revitalize the local economy with vocational training focusing on jobs in renewable energy, forest restoration, wildfire prevention and rural health care.

Rochelle Wilcox, also of Roseville, completed law school in 1998 and became a partner of one of the top-rated media defense practices in the nation. She specializes in government transparency and accountability, and protecting First Amendment rights. Wilcox wants to help bring campaign finance reform to federal elections. She also wants to help return government’s focus to the people, not the interests of politicians and their donors.

“We have a Congressman who does not represent our district and does not work for us,” said Wilcox, drawing the loudest applause of the evening.

Since all four candidates have extraordinary backgrounds, it will come down to the one who works the hardest raising money, signing up volunteers, connecting with voters and getting endorsements.

Everyone knows it will be an uphill battle for a Democrat in this district. McClintock won by a 2-to-1 margin in 2016 and got 60 percent of the vote in 2014. But a Gallup report shows that when a president’s approval rating is below 50 percent, the party in power loses 36 seats in midterm elections. President Trump’s approval rating was at 38.8 percent as of Friday.

Another big ovation came when Morse said: “It’s time for McClintock to pack his bags and go back to Southern California where he came from.”

Marc Boyd is an educator and businessman living in Arnold. Email: columns@modbee.com.