Moderate Latino Republican Considers Run to Replace Boxer

Rocky Chavez (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
Rich Pedroncelli / AP
San Diego, CA

Controversial Republican California Assemblymember Rocky Chavez has joined the ranks of those considering a run for United States Senate, filling the seat that liberal Democrat Barbara Boxer now holds, and from which she will be retiring in 2017.

In a short phone interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Chavez said he is considering running for the seat and expressed his feeling that a strong Republican candidate ought to run for it. Chavez told the paper that leaders in the California Republican Party had asked him to consider campaigning for the position.

Given Chavez’s positions on issues, he may provide appeal to Democrat and moderate Republican voters. The sophomore Assemblyman has broken ranks with Republicans on a number of issues, having come out in support of repealing California’s historic Proposition 8–the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage–and also suggesting compromise on immigration issues.

Shortly after election to the California State Assembly, Chavez said he hoped to move the Republican Party to a moderate position, qualifying his goal by indicating it may take time for Republicans to moderate, wrote the Union-Tribune.

Chavez recently discussed his views on immigration and amnesty at a Tri-City Tea Party meeting, where he and Ronald Reagan-appointed Former U.S. Attorney Peter Nunez debated the issue. When asked whether he opposed amnesty, Chavez said that it depends–but if forced to choose straight out, then the answer would yes. National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Action Fund partnered with the ACLU to put on a forum where Chavez called the passage of immigration reform a “no-brainer,” according to NCLR.

Chavez previously served as an Oceanside City Councilman, elected in 2002. He left that post to take a 2009 appointment from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the position of interim Undersecretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Chavez previously served in the United States Marine Corps.

A number of other potential candidates have been discussed as potential replacements since Boxer’s announcement that she would not pursue a 2016 bid to retain the seat. Democrat California Attorney General Kamala Harris became the first to officially announce her candidacy for the seat as of Tuesday, and is considered a frontrunner.

The biggest hurdles for potential contenders will be energizing voters and raisin money.

Former California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly suggested in a piece for Breitbart California that the Boxer Senate seat is “the GOP’s to lose,” and suggests that the defeatist tone in the media is contrary to reality.

Donnelly wrote, “If we can keep the likes of Karl Rove and Charles Munger, Jr. from decimating the enthusiasm of the activist base by banning their antics from the primary, then the hardest-working candidate with the strongest message is most likely to advance to the general election.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana