By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers
In recent weeks, Rep. Salud Carbajal has embarked on a “Central Coast Community Project Victory Tour,” trumpeting his support and sponsorship of recently passed federal legislation that is bringing in large sums of money. , grants and pork for his 24th congressional district.
Campaigning for a fourth term against a token Republican opposition, the Democratic congressman is positioning himself as a transactional, pragmatic problem-solver more interested in delivering for voters ($75 million for 101, $3.7 million for the SBA, $3 million for the Goleta Valley Community Center, $1.3 million for the Veterans Memorial Building, $1 million for Santa Maria Airport, half a million for shoreline “resilience work” of Carp – the list goes on…) than in the extremist politics that are currently tearing the nation apart.
However, at a time when 7 in 10 GOP voters do not see Joe Biden’s presidency as legitimate, nearly 70% of the party’s House members voted not to certify the 2020 election, and midterms of November may well hand over control of Congress to GOP majorities. Embedded even more deeply in Donald Trump’s fake narrative of a stolen election, Salud’s senescent bromides of “collaboration,” “bipartisanship” and “working together to solve problems” can be recorded as watery-eyed echoes of a bygone era.
In a high-profile Newsmakers interview this week, the Democratic congressman went into depth and detail about how he’s trying to reconcile that political circle in Washington — a case study in trying to use venerable legislative tools like the persuasion, compromise and negotiation in good faith, in an era of toxic zero-sum power struggles shaped by the grievances, threat and rumblings of civil war.
Although Carbajal portrays today’s GOP as a far-right, anti-democracy party, he nevertheless boasts that he has successfully teamed up with fellow Republicans on a case-by-case basis.
“There are certainly many Republicans who have fascist leanings that we see more and more in Congress,” he told Newsmakers.
“Much of the Republican Party is focused on the ‘big lie’ (that the election was stolen) and following the cult of a man named Trump, against a conservative ideology or platform,” he said. he declares. “So from that point of view, it’s a new party, mostly a new party.”
“I try to (call him) as often as possible, but on top of that, I also believe in collaboration and creating a collaborative environment, where we can get things done,” he said. he adds. “Look, the people of the Central Coast, my constituents, want me to govern. They don’t want me to focus there focusing heavily on ideology…And I’m trying to strike that balance because I want to be effective for my district.”
State of play.
In the Nov. 8 election, Carbajal’s opponent is Dr. Brad Allen, the sacrificial Republican (Democrats start with a 46-26% registration advantage in the district) who finished second to him in the primary in June. A pediatric surgeon who says he casts himself as a “common sense” alternative to “career politicians,” Allen netted $2,500 in cash in his latest campaign filing with the Federal Election Commission; , Carbajal grossed $2.4 million.
“I don’t underestimate any campaign, any race,” Salud told us, “and I spend substantial resources on this race as well, because I don’t take anyone for granted.”
In our interview, Salud answered questions (and parried the spasmodic snark) about a host of other consequential issues, including the controversial redevelopment of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in his district – and what it means for the future of a major wind energy company planned nearby, a project he surely sees as the stuff of political legacy.
He also discussed the economy, inflation and the local impact of a series of huge bills passed by Congress and signed by Biden, including the bipartisan $1,000 infrastructure bill. billions of dollars ; the massive and sprawling so-called “Inflation Reduction Act”; and the $280 billion Chip and Science Act to boost the semiconductor industry and establish reliable manufacturing supply chains (“jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said. repeated three times).
In response to further questions, Carbajal insisted that the new $700 million federal gun safety law, providing state subsidies for “red flag” law policies, was more than a token measure; discussed the war in Ukraine and how the United States should react if Putin followed through on threats to use nuclear weapons; and speculated that the Dobbs decision, reversing Roe v. Wade, could be key for surprisingly holding House Democrats;
Majority or minority?
Contrary to the opinion of many professional politicians, Carbajal said he was “not absolutely certain that (the Democrats) will lose the House” to the Republicans in the fall.
The GOP only needs five seats to take over — think Chairman Kevin McCarthy — and if they do, Salud said, it will crumble to “negotiate with a Republican-led house to try to find common ground to continue pushing the legislation forward, when we can find an agreement.”
Carbajal highlighted his membership and good working relationship in the “Problem Solvers Caucus” (out of 19 Republican members, only five Trump loyalists refused to certify the election) and the “For Country Caucus”, made up of former military (where 5 of 14 GOP members stood behind the rigged election duck) as proof of the viability of his style and brand across the aisle.
(Data point: don’t look now, but among Republican election supporters, at least 5 of those 19 GOP “problem-solvers” and 3 of the 9 “for the country” Republicans who voted for reality won’t return. in January, either retired or beaten in the primaries by MAGA Trumpers. But we digress).
“Most of the people who are on the other side, who are part of the bipartisan caucuses that I am part of, overwhelmingly … those individuals have not been the ones promoting the Big Lie, have not been the individuals extremes,” says Salud.
“But I’ll tell you, I stand up for my district, I stand up for my ideals, day in and day out,” he added. “I’m not shy about challenging Republicans about extremism and the things they’re doing that are inconsistent with American values of inclusion – making sure everyone has the opportunity, making sure we We’re doing everything we can to make Americans better…and give people the hope and opportunity to live the American Dream.
“So that’s what I fight for every day,” the congressman said.
You can watch Newsmakers’ interview with Rep. Salud Carbajal in part or in full via YouTube below or by clicking this link. The podcast version is here. Check TVSB and KCSB-FM for our program’s airtime.
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