With California’s economy swept away by the coronavirus pandemic, more and more GOP congressional candidates are calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to move faster to fully reopen the country’s economy.
In Orange County, Mission Viejo Board Member Greg Raths, who will challenge Democratic Deputy Katie Porter in November, sued Newsom this month after the governor ordered the county beaches to be closed.
“People in Orange County deserve better than this,” he said.
In Central Valley, former Turlock Council member (Stanislaus County) Ted Howze has started a campaign called “Trust the Valley,” urged Newsom to let local officials decide when to let businesses, schools and other institutions reopen.
“Central Valley cities and cities are very different from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco. What works for the metropolitan area may not be suitable for our community, “said Howze, who will face Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, in the fall.
The measured reopening process of Newsom must move faster step by step, said Michelle Steele, an Orange County supervisor who opposes Democratic Rep Harley Rouda from Laguna Beach.
“Almost every week, I call from business owners who have been forced to lay off employees or employees who barely succeed,” he writes in the Los Angeles Daily Pilot. “This can’t go on forever.”
While Newsom has eased restrictions across the state for a number of countries, he has warned that moving too fast risks reigniting the virus, bringing more deaths and even greater economic disruption.
Republicans gambled that voters were more worried about a collapse in the country’s economy and rising unemployment than a pandemic that appeared to be on the decline.
The economic argument is strong, especially in countries where the financial impact of closure is far worse than the health effects of the virus.
Most of the Central Valley, for example, has avoided the worst pandemic. Los Angeles County has reported more than 42,000 cases of coronavirus and 2,000 more deaths. Compare that to Fresno, the 10th largest county in California, with 1,372 cases and 22 deaths.
In the smaller Central Valley district, the health effects of the virus are even smaller.
“If you choose random voters from the street, most of them don’t know anyone who has a corona virus,” said Nathan Monroe, a professor of political science at UC Merced. “But they all know someone who lost his job or who barely succeeded” because of the closure.
Calls for a rapid reopening play a good role in many parts of Central Valley, Monroe added. This does not have to be a problem, Democrats versus Republicans, a problem, because economic suffering crosses party lines.
Republicans echo the concerns of President Trump, who in recent days declared victory over the corona virus and called on California and other countries to ease their restrictions and focus on starting the economy.
But in California, a strong Democratic country where Trump is very unpopular, GOP congressional candidates say their concerns are solely about the local effects of Newsom’s antivirus efforts.
“I always have and I will always fight for Orange County residents,” Steele said.
Brian Maryott, a member of the San Juan Capistrano (Orange County) council who will face Democrat Mike Levin in November, has become one of the loudest voices asking the country to step back from its limits.
“California needs to restart our economic engine safely now,” Maryott said in an email to supporters last week. He started an online petition urging Newsom to reopen the country, held a virtual meeting to hear from people about their concerns and held a press conference on Friday at the beauty salon, where he lamented the fact that the personal care business still could not be opened back in most countries.
“This is a long, protracted, micro-managed process from Sacramento,” he said in an interview. “Three weeks ago, people were nervous, but now they feel depressed. We all want to be safe … but we also want to get a normal life back.”
Normal life includes the return of direct campaigns. Earlier this month, Maryott and his supporters returned to the streets, knocking on doors and talking to voters.
“We use the appropriate parameters, knock and talk,” he said. “We found that people really want to talk about coronavirus and current problems.”
In clashes that are likely to recur across the state in the coming weeks, Levin criticized Maryott’s decision to return to business politics as usual.
While his team works virtually and checks with voters by telephone, “my Republican opponent ignores recommendations from health experts and knocks on doors,” Levin said in a fundraising e-mail. “How rash.”
Republican candidates focus on the financial effects of coronaviruses and efforts to make a contrast with Democratic leadership are inevitable, said Graeme Boushey, a professor of political science at UC Irvine.
“The economy is the best problem they have,” he said. “But there is still a lot of bipartisan support for limiting coronavirus, even among those who have been injured and affected.”
But the issue of complaining about Republicans and independents in the districts swinging against all-Democratic leadership in the nation’s capital has several political advantages, Boushey said.
In the California election, he said, “reviling Sacramento is a proven strategy.”
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