Conventional wisdom suggests 2018 will be a good election year for Democrats but one GOP candidate believes not only that Republicans can win but that he can win in California – one of the more “Democrat” states in the U.S.
John Estrada is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is seeking a fifth full term and her sixth overall election to the U.S. Senate. Estrada is a U.S. Navy veteran, a small business owner, and a decades-long activist in California Republican politics.
He ran twice for Congress in the 1990s and once for lieutenant governor in 2014, bowing in the primary each time.
Estrada says his reasons for getting in the Senate race are simple.
“I care about America. I want to help the America First agenda. I have been in the military and I care about my fellow veterans and the people in the military that are trying to keep us safe,” said Estrada.
He says his Navy service showed him just how special the United States is.
“During that time, I got a chance to travel to a lot of foreign destinations which were pretty incredible. I learned how great America is and how great it has to continue to be,” said Estrada.
There’s a reason that sounds similar to Make America Great Again. Estrada is running as an unabashed pro-Trump Republican.
“I think Donald Trump has really put a strong message to America and the world that America needs to be first, so I will work with the president,” said Estrada.
Estrada is also clear about why he thinks Feinstein ought to lose her job.
Hear the interview:
“If somebody has been in office for 25 years and hasn’t done her job yet, I think it’s time to move on. I think California and America needs a change,” said Estrada.
He points specifically to Feinstein’s work as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and what he sees as her lack of effort into determining the role of the FBI during the 2016 campaign.
“I hold her as one of the responsible parties. She isn’t overseeing the process of what’s going on with the FBI and why they’re going rogue on us,” he said.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in California by nearly a two-to-one margin. On that same ballot, two Democrats faced off in the general election as a result of the state’s primary system that advances the top two vote-getters to the general election.
Since 2016, California effectively became a sanctuary state and passed laws making it a crime to call someone by the “wrong” gender pronouns while significantly lessening the penalties for knowingly infecting someone with HIV. This year Democrats are pushing legislation to raise state taxes on corporations and jail waiters for giving plastic straws to customers without being asked.
So is winning in California beyond hope for Republicans?
“Not at all,” said Estrada, who believes he can win votes other Republicans cannot.
“I truly believe I have the ability to cross over party lines, get conservatives and independents and make it a very competitive race,” said Estrada.
Estrada says Republicans just need to address what really matters in California.
“I think (former House Speaker) Tip O’Neill said is greatly many years ago, and that’s that all politics is local. What I have found is that the problems in California can be solved by the federal government,” said Estrada.
He says water access is a good example of this.
“We have a great opportunity to bring sustainable, safe, clean, water for our residents. Unfortunately, environmentalists have allowed so much of this fresh water to go into the Pacific Ocean and we keep losing opportunities to save that in water storage facilities,” said Estrada.
“With federal dollars, I think we can build enough water storage facilities to help everybody out, all water users,” said Estrada.
Estrada would also take aim at the Endangered Species Act, which he says California and the federal government are using to stifle economic development and even the construction of low-income housing, which he says is a major contributor to the growing problem of homelessness in the Golden State.
But while Estrada has issues he is most passionate about, he says his actions will be dictated by what the people of his state want from him.
“I will take my personal views, being a conservative and take a look, case by case, at how we can help the people of California, because really, it belongs to them. It’s their state and I’ll be working for them,” said Estrada.
But he is quick to add that when he serves the people of California, he means the citizens of California.
“We have to help our citizens first. America is a very generous nation. When there’s disasters across the world, we’re there helping everybody, but there’s a lot of corrupt administrations around the world – a lot of dictators and a lot of corruption – and America’s got to lead,” said Estrada.