Oceanside Republican Rocky Chávez, a state Assembly member and U.S. Senate candidate, came to the central San Joaquin Valley on Wednesday, where he spoke in Porterville to the Southern Tulare County Republican Women Federated luncheon.
Assembly Member Devon Mathis, a Visalia Republican, introduced Chávez, who has the support of much of the Assembly Republican Caucus, including Frank Bigelow of O’Neals and Jim Patterson of Fresno, as well as Mathis.
And Chávez says he has a three-pronged plan to win in California, where only 28 percent of voters are registered Republicans.
First, he told The Fresno Bee’s editorial board, where he stopped in on his way to Porterville, is to put Los Angeles in play. Second is to appeal to veterans. Third is to appeal to Latinos.
“My name is Chávez,” he said. “That’s a very good name to have in California.”
Together, he said, that strategy can get him from the 28% of Republican votes to 51% -- and victory.
The challenge for Chávez may be getting through the June primary election, where the top two finishers -- regardless of political party -- advance to the November general election.
Many positions he holds are very moderate.
Chávez, for instance, believes climate change is real, and that humans have played a role in it. He is a strong supporter of early childhood education. He supports the Trans Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal being negotiated by several Pacific Rim countries, including the United States. He would have normalized relations with Cuba “20 years ago.”
These positions would put Chávez at odds with many ultra-conservative Republican voters, who tend to dominate primary elections. Those voters could in turn vote for other Republicans who are running.
The many Republican candidates could not only hurt Chávez’s chances with conservative voters, but in addition, if enough Republicans split the vote, it could let two Democrats finish one-two and move on to November.
Those two would be Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats.
But Chávez also stressed to The Bee’s editorial board that he also has an A+ rating from both the California Chamber of Commerce and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. He supports building more dams, including Temperance Flat above Lake Millerton. He also served almost three decades as a U.S. Marine, rising to the rank of colonel.