SAN DIEGO -- RJ Hernandez, a candidate in California State Assembly District 77, has switched his political affiliation from the Democratic Party to No Party Preference (NPP) -- also known as independent. Hernandez is challenging Republican incumbent Brian Maienschein.
Historically a very Republican district, AD-77 holds one of the largest Independent voting blocs in the state. According to the most updated voter registration numbers released by the secretary of state, NPP voters make up over 28 percent of the registered voting population in the district. Republican registration is currently at 36.9 percent, while Democrats make up a little over 30 percent of the electorate.
Independents could have a major impact in deciding who wins the November election.
When asked why he switched his party preference, Hernandez stated:
"On Election Night, all I heard were politicians proclaiming to be nonpartisan in their first sentence and then attacking the other party in their next statement. I would be of the same hypocrisy if I did not stand independent and as I am independent, as a businessman, it made perfect sense to be recognized for who I am and what ideas I have instead of what party I belong to. I'm not dropping one party; I'm bridging the two."
This change is a precedent-setting move post-Proposition 14. He is the first independent candidate to square off in a state-level race in the general election. With how the Democratic majority is in the Assembly, if elected, Hernandez would be the first independent to actively be on the Assembly.Hernandez says his campaign is truly independent, which sets it apart from not only his opponent's campaign, but most statewide campaigns. He says there are no special interests funding his campaign and he plans to focus on making California a more business-friendly state.
"No one is working toward making this a business friendly state," Hernandez said. "We need to eliminate the minimum franchise tax and we need to take lessons from states where businesses and jobs are flocking to.
He notes that many of the issues that are currently dividing lawmakers and the most partisan of voters are based on the needs of special interests. He says no one is talking about facilitating public/private partnerships to build revenue outside of taxation.
Hernandez garnered 29.4 percent of the vote in the June 3 primary election against Maienschein. Under the top-two primary system, he will advance to the general election, where a higher voter turnout is likely.
Photo Source: RJ Hernandez / Facebook