New Assembly District 71, in which the Hill communities form the northern apexes of the district, has three candidates on the ballot. Incumbent Brian Jones and John McLaughlin are Republicans and Patrick Hurley is the Democratic candidate.
However, under the rules of California’s new top-two open primary, the two candidates, regardless of party, with the highest vote total will compete in the November General Election.
The lone Democratic candidate in the race is Hurley, but he recognizes that AD 71 is not a natural Democratic base. His solution to the state’s fiscal trouble is creating more jobs. Specifically, he argues that the legislature should focus on providing incentives for more clean energy jobs.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said in rapid fire. “Austerity is one way out or we could tax our way. But people are eager to work. The lack of capital is causing small business to contract. More capital for small business will lead to expansion.”
His vision for generating capital for small business is to establish a state bank, which would be limited in its ability to use capital for investment purposes. Its equity would have to be lent to local housing and small businesses.
He expressed regret that San Diego County lacks any institutions that strongly advocate or promote sustainable industries and their associated jobs.
With more jobs, the state’s revenue would grow, according to Hurley. However, he does suggest adding one tax to the state’s arsenal. He recommends a severance tax on oil, similar to that which Texas and Alaska apply for oil and gas extraction.
Hurley admits he hasn’t raised much campaign money and characterized his campaign as a grassroots effort. Nevertheless, he does expect to finish second in the primary. He believes his party affiliation will still attract enough voters to outpoll John McLaughlin, the second Republican candidate.
“[Brian Jones, the incumbent] has $150,000. I’ve raised $2,500,” Hurley said. “I need more money and will raise more once on the general ballot.”
If Hurley’s campaign extends beyond June 5, he plans to come to Idyllwild and if elected, he says, “When I’m serving in the Assembly, whomever I represent in the district won’t be forgotten.”
McLaughlin, 39, is the lone Riverside County resident among the three candidates. This is his first effort at elective office.
When asked why he is running, McLaughlin replied, “The biggest reason is I believe in something different than the standard Republican and conservative viewpoint.”
McLaughlin wants smaller government, one focused on fundamental governmental functions, which are provided at the level in which they are used.
For example, he was passionate about his goals for education. While he and his wife home-school their six children, he stressed it was because they are concerned about the quality of American education and California schools in particular.
“We want to instill a yearning to understand, not take tests,” he said. Three years ago, they spent six months helping their then 10-year-old learn about oceanography. “It wasn’t simply arithmetic and writing, but learning something that really fascinated her,” he explained.
Consequently, he wants less state and federal regulation and control of schools and more at the local level. He argued that the “No Child Left Behind Act’ has resulted in an educational system oriented toward testing rather than learning.
“They have taken the life out of schools,” he lamented. Then he referred to former President Ronald Reagan’s ability to reach out to conservative Democrats to instill the concept that government was not the solution to everything.
He stressed, “I’m not anti-tax because I have money or want to save billionaires. I’m anti-tax because people should decide how to spend their money.”
To solve the state budget mess, McLaughlin acknowledges that everybody needs to use the same accurate data. To raise more state revenue, he would expand enterprise zones to the whole state. The revenue side, consistent with his overall philosophy, would result in widespread reductions.
He also opposes Gov. Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative. He would prefer a combination of large spending cuts and non-tax revenue growth.
McLaughlin, as Hurley, says his is a grass roots campaign. With less than $5,000, he relies on friends and family to call prospective voters and convince them of his passion and ability.
But he also added that this election, if he does not move on to the November ballot, would not end his political career. He intends to get more involved.