In an interview for IVN, Tony Strickland (R), candidate for Congressional District 25, discussed his views on the nonpartisan, top-two open primary and the race against fellow Republican, State Senator Steve Knight.
Congressional District 25 is located in northern Los Angeles County. The district includes the city of Palmdale and Santa Clarita. As of September 5, 2014, Republicans and Democrats make up nearly the same percentage of the electorate, 37 percent to 37.53 percent, respectively. This means voters not affiliated with either major party also make up a sizable percentage (just over a quarter) of the voting population. This means every vote will count on November 4.
1. As a former member of the California Assembly and State Senate, you ran in elections before and after the implementation of the top-two primary. Do you support or oppose the Top-Two Primary? What are the benefits and/or consequences?
"I am opposed to the top-two primary system. The system was designed to force candidates to appeal to both sides of the aisle, but in reality you end up with fewer voters. In this case, fewer Democrats will vote because their party's candidate is not on the ballot. The top two system also denies a voice to minor party candidates who could normally use general elections to expose the electorate to new ideas."
2. Running against a fellow Republican, what key factors separate your campaign from Senator Knight's campaign?
"My opponent and I have some similarities and have both supported job creation and infrastructure needs. The difference is leadership. Leadership requires vision and also a willingness to listen. In Sacramento, I supported the Enterprise Zones while my opponent cast the deciding vote against them.The Enterprise Zones program in Santa Clarita is adopted by over 500 employers and provides over $30,000 in tax credits per employee over 5 years. I reached across the aisle to coauthor a bill that eliminated taxes on green manufacturing, something that has spurred the future of energy production and created jobs throughout the state of California. I was also one of three Republicans to break with my party in voting for Renewable Portfolio Standards which required energy companies to invest 33 percent of the portfolios in renewables by the year 2020. These accomplishments required the vision to see the usefulness of policy within our district.
Finally, I'm running for Congress to represent everyone, not just the people who elect me. I have always proactively sought out opinion leaders on both sides of an issue. I may not always agree with everyone, but I'm willing to listen to everyone's ideas. Ultimately, as your representative in Congress, I don't care if it's a Republican's idea or a Democrat's idea, I only care that it's a good idea for our district and our country."
3. How do you intend on reaching out to Democrats? Voters outside the Republican Party?"It's essential to reach out to Democrats and third parties, as they will make up the difference in this race. We have been extremely active reaching out to democratic groups and individuals throughout the district and we have had great success. Knight's vote in favor of the sale and display of the Confederate flag, and his willingness to campaign with failed gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly cost him the endorsement of Dr. Rogers and alienated many Democratic voters. As I stated before, I am not running for Congress to focus on issues that will alienate a large majority of the people I represent. I'm running to represent everyone and work on the important issues facing our district and nation, including fighting government red tape and over taxation to promote growth within our economy, promoting access to higher education to promote good mortgage paying jobs, and finally standing with our veterans and working to provide better care for those who have served this nation. A robust economy, better education, more and higher paying jobs, and better support for our veterans are issues everyone can agree with."
4. What is one policy you support that appeals to all voters in your district, regardless of party affiliation?
"I support the implementation of a 'No Budget, No Pay' law within the federal government. The main job of the Congress is to pass a budget, and they have failed their constituents. Hard working California families have to do their job to ensure that they receive a paycheck, and Congress shouldn't be any different. Our government should be accountable to us, and just as we have to pass a budget in Sacramento to get paid, Washington should be no different. This is an achievable policy that will work to create more engaged and accountable representation for all Americans, and it requires leaders with vision and real solutions, like myself, to become law. This is a common sense solution that everyone can agree with and will work."
Photo Source: AP