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Not your standard issue

  • May 17, 2014

By John McDowell
Political Columnist, San Mateo Daily Journal

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Republicans don’t do well in Bay Area elections. OK, that’s no secret. What may be a secret is that Republicans do quite well in other parts of the state. But here? Not so much.

There are many reasons for the decline, but let me focus on just one — the candidates. Try this thought experiment: Imagine what a standard issue Republican candidate looks and sounds like. Not very representative of our area, right? But, read on.

By the end of this column, you’ll have a serious case of cognitive dissonance. More colloquially, I’m going to blow your mind.

Here are just a few of the Republican candidates on local ballots. I’m guessing they won’t fit with what you just imagined.

Jonathan Madison is a Pacifica native who is running in the 22nd Assembly District. An honors graduate of Skyline College, he went on to earn a bachelor’s of art in political science in 2011 from Howard University, the nation’s premier historically black college or university.

After graduation, he worked as professional policy staff for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services. He returned to live in Millbrae, advise local officials on financial policy issues and study law at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Young and black? Not your standard-issue Republican.

Then there is George Yang, who grew up in Millbrae and is running for lieutenant governor. A Chinese immigrant, George too is young and married with two small children. With a master’s degree in telecommunications management, George has worked for large and small telecommunications firms and has significant community volunteer experience.

Young Asian immigrant? Not your standard-issue Republican.

Peter Kuo is another Asian immigrant and an entrepreneur with three school-aged children. He is running for the state Senate in District 10, which stretches from Milpitas to the Castro Valley area. He says that growing up washing dishes at his parent’s restaurant and working at Enterprise Rent-A-Car taught him the value of hard work and perseverance in reaching the American Dream. Now he’s running to take what he’s learned about job creation to Sacramento.

Chinese entrepreneur? Not your standard-issue Republican.

Dr. Vanila Singh, a professor at the Stanford Medical Center and an Indian immigrant, is running for Congress in the 17th District, which encompasses the area between Fremont and Sunnyvale. As Dr. Singh’s commercials make clear, she is dedicated to addressing the challenges of women in the workforce and standing tall for equal opportunity, education and achievement for all people — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or creed.

Indo-American woman professor and doctor? Not your standard-issue Republican.

Running in the 20th Assembly District in the East Bay is Jamie Patino, a Hispanic single parent. A U.C. Berkeley research administrator and alumnus of Chabot College and CSU East Bay, Jamie is focusing his campaign on a first-class educational system, good jobs and a business-friendly environment that will make the state a place where working families want to stay to raise their children

Hispanic single parent? Not your standard-issue Republican.

Finally, there is Catherine Baker who is running for the Assembly in the 16th District, in the Tri-Valley area. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and with honors from the University of Chicago, she earned her juris doctor degree from U.C. Berkeley’s School of Law. As an attorney, she received the Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Legal Services from the California State Bar Association. The award honored her commitment to providing pro bono legal representation to low-income individuals and families.

A woman committed to legal representation for the poor? Not your standard-issue Republican.

As diverse and divergent as these Bay Area Republican candidates are, they have all have one thing in common. Every one of them has a good shot at being a top-two vote-getter June 3 and ending up on the November ballot.

Black, Hispanic, Asian, immigrant and women Republican candidates on Bay Area ballots in November? I told you I’d blow your mind!

John McDowell is a longtime county resident having first moved to San Carlos in 1963. In the intervening years, he has worked as a political volunteer and staff member in local, state and federal government, including time spent as a press secretary on Capitol Hill and in the George W. Bush administration.


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