Carl DeMaio was in Southwest Riverside County for two town hall events last week.
DeMaio, a Republican who is running for the 50th Congressional District seat vacated by disgraced former Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, R-Alpine, was at the Temecula Public Library Monday, Jan. 13 to discuss homelessness, then came to the Temecula Valley Elks Lodge Saturday, Jan. 18 for an event focusing on border security.
At the Saturday town hall, DeMaio covered border-related topics like sewage contamination in the Tijuana River Valley area.
“San Diego County had to shut down our beaches 131 out of 365 days because of Tijuana’s raw sewage that was literally flushed out onto our beaches and our bays,” DeMaio told attendees at the town hall. “Now, that has a public health, an environmental and an economic consequence.”
He said it affects tourism in San Diego and Southern California, as people may not want to come to local San Diego beaches if they hear “there’s poo water on the shore.”
“What I want to make sure we do is we stop dilly-dallying around and go after Mexico in the financial side of their economy. Demand that for every day that their sewage closes one of our beaches, we close the port of entry,” DeMaio said. “So my plan on that is very similar to President Trump’s border wall. We’re gonna force Mexico to build a toilet bowl, Mexico’s gonna pay for it and we’re gonna close the border for every day that their toilet doesn’t work.”
DeMaio leveled some criticism at one of his opponents in the race for the 50th District, fellow Republican and former U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, who did not run for reelection in the neighboring 48th Congressional District in 2018, but is now also running to replace Hunter in the 50th.
“My opponent Mr. Issa, 18 years (in Congress), voted for amnesty, not once but twice, opposed the border wall, called it unnecessary, demanded that we reduce staffing at the border patrol checkpoints,” DeMaio said. “Oh, look at (Issa’s) contributors. These votes make evident sense on his side of the aisle. Which is, he’s got these big businesses saying, ‘yeah, yeah, tell your constituents whatever, but at the end of the day give us the amnesty.’”
Issa proposed a “middle ground” option in 2013 that would have given temporary six-year legal status to undocumented immigrants. He said in 2017 that he thought comprehensive immigration reform would ultimately make a border wall unnecessary, but did vote in favor of funding a border wall the next year.
DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman who ran unsuccessfully for San Diego mayor in 2012 and began hosting a radio show on KOGO AM 600 in 2015, also discussed his record in California with the gas tax repeal initiative and the successful recall of a lawmaker who voted in favor of the tax.
He called his targeting of former state Sen. Josh Newman, a Democrat who represented parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, “the gazelle strategy.”
Newman, according to DeMaio, had cast the deciding vote in favor of the 12-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax that DeMaio tried to get repealed in 2018.
“I guess I had watched the Animal Planet,” he said of his name for the strategy. He said he would have liked to recall everyone involved in the gas tax, but that would have been unrealistic.
“What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna pick one — because we don’t have a lot of resources, we’re the rebellion — I’m gonna pick one, and I’m gonna find the one that’s the weakest and has done the worst stuff to us, and that was Newman, deciding vote on the gas tax and sanctuary state,” DeMaio said. “And I said, like the lions, we’ve got to work together to take down the gazelle. So we found the slowest gazelle, because he had won by only 2,000 votes. Boy, he was in such bad condition, not only was he the slowest gazelle, he only had three legs.”
Newman was recalled from office in June 2018 and replaced by Republican Ling Ling Chang, ending the Democrats’ supermajority in the California State Legislature that year. However, Democrats would go on to regain their supermajority in the general election just a few months later.
DeMaio blasted Democrats for the failure of his gas tax repeal initiative in November 2018.
“What they did was they changed the title at the very last minute,” he said. “They took ‘gas tax repeal’ off the title and then they put on ‘eliminates road repairs and transportation funds.’”
He called state-level Democrats “liars, cheats and thieves.”
“They stole our money, they lie about our money and then they figured out how to steal our votes and lie on the ballot,” DeMaio said.
Asked toward the end of the meeting about how he would support veterans, he said he would like to “strip members of Congress of their gold-plated health care, and they’re gonna be enrolled in (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) health care.”
“If you want to see change at the VA in improved care, force members of Congress to stand in a line, sit on the waiting list that our veterans have to wait through and get the crappy care that they’re receiving,” he said.
Nancy Gaier of Temecula, one of the attendees at the town hall event, said she liked what DeMaio had to say as well as “his approach.”
“He is a fighter. President Trump needs somebody — Darrell Issa is not a fighter, he is a milquetoast, he doesn’t do anything, and he’s against Trump,” Gaier said. “Carl is a fighter who will fight with Trump and that’s what we need.”
James Quenzler of Hemet said he thought DeMaio was short on specifics, but “made some good points.”
“I don’t think he really detailed what he’s gonna do, it’s just generalizations, but that’s all they can do,” Quenzler said. “But if they really follow through and that kind of stuff, I think it’d be good for California.”
Will Fritz can be reached by email at email@example.com.