Community Columns

Judge me by what I’ve done in Congress, not my feelings about Donald Trump

I was deeply disappointed and frankly shocked at the tone and substance of your editorial (“If Jeff Denham can’t reject Trump, we must reject him,” Aug. 7, Page 1D).

For the first time in my memory, The Bee has established a strict litmus test for their support. This test is not based on my position on the issues or on my record as a representative for the Valley. This litmus test is based entirely on whether I will denounce the presidential nominee of my own party for his choice of words, not his record.

The Bee knows that by doing so I would be helping elect a candidate I do not agree with on many important issues. Perhaps that is the motive behind the editorial.

Donald Trump is rightfully being criticized for his words. I often find them to be disturbing, inappropriate and outlandish. They are not words or things I would ever say.

Hillary Clinton, however, has a long record we can judge her on and I find her record most troubling.

So, while I have concerns with the nominees of both parties, only one has addressed our plight for survival as it pertains to the lifeblood of the Valley. Without water storage and conveyance our way of life will continue to suffer. We will continue to see a struggling economy and a battle to see more jobs.

Of the two major candidates, only Donald Trump has at least recognized the problem and made statements about the tiny fish that are used as an excuse to take our water.

I also have concerns about the U.S. Supreme Court and future nominees. The next president will shape the court for 30 or more years. Only one candidate has introduced a list of nominees for the public to study. Trump has wisely suggested he wants someone with the mind set of Justice Antonin Scalia. I’m reading up on these judges and they seem to be an impressive group that would uphold the Constitution and not try to create laws from the bench.

Clinton should release her list of possible appointees for the public to study before voting starts.

Here is where I stand. I swore an oath to defend our Constitution and nation when I joined the Air Force at the age of 17. I will never step back from that oath or responsibility. I have been, and will always be, an independent thinker, willing to challenge even my own party’s leaders when they are wrong.

I have survived recall attempts from Sacramento politicians and multi-million-dollar negative campaigns from Washington special interests precisely because I am independent – and so are Valley voters.

I’m proud to be endorsed by a diverse group of organizations, including the Farm Bureau, the National Rifle Association, the California Teachers Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the largest police officer organization in the state, PORAC, and the Modesto and Tracy Firefighters Associations. These groups and many others did not base their endorsement on who I support for president, they based it on my record in Congress – a record I am proud of.

Like many Americans from both parties, my first choice for president is not on the ballot in November. So I will cast a vote for the candidate who I believe will do the best job protecting our nation, defending our Constitution and addressing the serious economic issues facing the Valley, especially the water crisis.

Jeff Denham represented the 10th California Congressional district for the past six years. He wrote this for The Modesto Bee.