Can California Democrats Take out McCarthy Over Health Care Vote?

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Democrats nationally have staked out the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as their primary point of attack against vulnerable Republicans.

Now, even entrenched, establishment-favorite Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield is in the crosshairs, drawing a “Republican” opponent, who sounds more like a Democrat in disguise, exploiting California’s relatively new “top two” primary system.

According to a Los Angeles Times story, Joe Aleman — “a photographer and artist” — is threatening to run against McCarthy over his vote to replace ObamaCare with the AHCA.  He says he is a Republican, but his website reads like something straight out of the Democrat playbook: class envy, income gaps, rich vs. poor, linking McCarthy to the 1% wealthy elite, with more government proposed as the solution to almost every problem.

“How is this guy throwing his own district under the bus?” Aleman told the Times. “Who would do this to his own people?”

If McCarthy’s liberal Republican challenger actually files papers—and makes it into the top two running as a Republican—he’ll likely win a lot of the Democrat vote, and might even draw the support of the Democrat Party.  But it will be nowhere near enough, as Republicans will always vote for the more conservative candidate in a district like Bakersfield — where McCarthy is largely regarded as a moderate.

And since the Bakersfield electorate has more in common with Texas than California, it prompts the question: Why would the Times devote any attention to a no-name, nobody potential challenger running to the left of a moderate Republican, unless there’s some other agenda afoot?

Given that McCarthy won re-election in 2016 by a 2:1 margin, capturing 69.2% of the vote, and that he has millions on hand in his campaign account, the story of a long shot who hasn’t even filed papers yet and has exactly 14 likes on his “Joe For Congress 2018” Facebook Page seems like a bizarre use of newspaper space. Unless, of course, the entire purpose of the article was to create a perception of weakness among Republicans in general.

It appears to be another example of that leftist utopianism otherwise known as “fake news,” promoted by the so-called mainstream media: “If Majority Leader McCarthy is vulnerable, then every Republican is vulnerable.”

In recent months, Democrat activists — many funded by Soros-backed organizations, and tech companies — have overwhelmed town halls held by California Republican congressional representatives —and they seem to be putting all their eggs in one basket: making the salvation of ObamaCare their central, if not only, focus.

California media outlets have breathlessly reported every new challenger in what they’ve dubbed “Hillary districts”—that is, Republican-held congressional districts that supported Hillary Clinton for president over Donald Trump.

Darrel Issa is in one of those districts ,and has become the most cagey Republican in the California delegation, having barely survived re-election by just over 1600 votes. His Democrat challenger in 2016, a fairly conservative military veteran in a district with more veterans than almost any other, played the “outsider card” very effectively and almost unseated the ninth-term congressman.

Earlier this week, Issa told reporters that his vote on the AHCA was “none of your business.” The “none of your business” comment may have been a huge mistake, because most constituents are likely to take that message personally — as if he directed those comments to them, and not reporters. And Issa may be in serious danger of moving so far to the left that he depresses conservative turnout, and loses.

This new Democrat strategy is not without risks. While it may work with vulnerable Republicans in seats that could go either way — “wobblers,” to steal a term from the judicial system — it is likely to backfire where ObamaCare is most unpopular.

And ObamaCare is still extremely unpopular with those voters whose premiums skyrocketed, while support (or opposition) is unchanged among those on the receiving end of free or heavily subsidized health care.

Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman and author who is doing a book tour for his new book: Patriot Not Politician: Win or Go Homeless. He ran for governor in 2014.


Twitter:  @PatriotNotPol


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