Gary Miller (R), is up for grabs. Miller, who has been in Congress since 1999, announced his retirement earlier this year. The two candidates who emerged from June's nonpartisan, top-two primary are Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) and former Navy Lt. Commander Paul Chabot (R).
In June, Aguilar received 17.4 percent of the primary vote, narrowly defeating Lesli Gooch (R) by 0.4 percent, according to the secretary of state. Dr. Chabot placed a comfortable first with 26.6 percent of the vote.
Redrawn in 2011, CA-31 party registration statistics show Democrats and Republicans at 40 percent and 34 percent, respectively. Registered voters with no party preference make up almost 21 percent of the San Bernardino district.
On October 20, 2014, Aguilar and Dr. Chabot squared off in a debate hosted by Redlands Daily Facts. The two candidates drew stark differences on the issues of immigration, health care, and foreign policy.
“The immigrant story is the American story,” declared Aguilar.
He addressed the need for border security and background checks as well as improving the pathway to citizenship for immigrants. A more comprehensive system of immigration reform, as determined by Aguilar, would improve economic viability and regional stability.
Dr. Chabot preached the necessity of increased border control, stating, “if a child can walk across our border, certainly a terrorist can as well.”
Dr. Chabot's proposal for change requires a multilateral international approach with Central and South American countries in an attempt to reduce corruption and increase health and safety within each respective country.
Aguilar stressed his role as a father and the need for families to be able to provide medical care for their children. Supporting the need for affordable health care, Aguilar warned against reverting to a system where insurance companies dictate eligibility for care.
Listing off losses experienced under the Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare), such as choice of doctor and small business expansion, Dr. Chabot warned against the use of a government-controlled medical system. By comparing the effectiveness of VA treatment centers to that of Obamacare, Dr. Chabot vowed to reform the law in order to address inequities.
Condemning the handling of ISIS thus far, Dr. Chabot promoted the use of ground troops as an effective tool for bringing stability in the region and thus securing American interests.
“No war has ever been won by air alone,” he stated.
Chabot later addressed the necessity of actively opposing ISIS’s growth, declaring, “We all know that we have an inherent duty as Americans to protect and defend this great nation against savages.”
American Viewpoint Poll
“The threat of ISIS is real; this is a terrorist organization with no regard for human life. Anyone who kills an American abroad should be held accountable,” Aguilar said.
While addressing the ISIS threat, he called for careful planning. Aguilar’s standpoint on attacking ISIS is based on international, multilateral supported airstrikes that would reduce the need for additional ground troops in the area.
A poll by American Viewpoint suggests Aguilar is slightly ahead by 4 percentage points (within the margin of error, +/- 4.9%). Yet, 17 percent of voters are still undecided, meaning the race is still very competitive.
Aguilar is one of eight Jumpstart candidates receiving financial support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Adding to this support, Vice President Joe Biden will be making a visit to San Bernardino on Saturday, November 1, in an attempt to increase voter turnout.
The importance of California’s 31st Congressional District is rooted not only in control of House votes, but in the viability of the next Congress. Regardless of party affiliation (or lack thereof), district residents must choose a candidate that represents their future interests.
Image: Dr. Paul Chabot (left), Pete Aguilar (right)