By Erubey Lopez
On Thursday, March 5, 2015, assembly member Rocky Chávez officially announced that he will seek to replace outgoing U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer when she retires next year. Boxer has held that seat since 1993. Even before Boxer decided to retire, Democrats were busy trying to avoid an inter-party fight. Everyone who knows anything about politics assumes that whoever replaces Boxer will be another Democrat. After Gavin Newson and Antonio Villaraigosa both announced that they are not running for the senate seat, the race appeared to be fixed in Harris’s favor. Democrat Attorney General Kamala Harris, is now the defacto heir to Boxer’s throne.
Many wonder why Rocky would give up his safe assembly seat for a quixotic attempt to become senator. In order to beat Harris, Rocky will have to overcome the lack of name recognition and a democratic 15 percentage point advantage in registered voters as opposed to Republicans. Few think he can do this. The UT editorial board actually wrote an open letter entitled “OUR ADVICE TO ROCKY CHAVEZ: DON’T RUN FOR SENATE.” They said, “running for the Senate would mean giving up his Assembly seat, where he has been undeniably effective. Rocky, have you heard of the term “sacrificial lamb”?
Rocky actually believes he can beat Kamala Harris. He says he wouldn’t be running unless he believed that could beat Harris. From Rocky this isn’t just cheap talk, in fact it’s pretty expensive talk, not only because of the millions of dollars that the race will take, but also because in order to run, Rocky is going to give up his safe assembly seat.
I’m happy Rocky is running and I look forward to hearing what he has to say on the campaign trail. I have to agree with the experts and say that Rocky will probably not win but his campaign will have a very positive impact for California and for the nation. Latino leaders in California have been busy trying to recruit a viable Latino Democrat and so far have come up empty handed. By running, Rocky will be able to do what the Latino Democratic caucus has failed to do, give Latinos in California a Latino option. And not just any Latino but one who served in the military.
By running for Senate, Rocky, will also become the official voice of the California Republican Party. This is huge. Many in the Tea Party branch of the Republican Party are furious with Rocky because of his stance on Immigration and Obamacare, they call him a RINO and an opportunist. Rocky will not only push, Immigration reform as a Republican value, he will also push marriage equality, and he will stand against his party on Obamacare. Rocky’s candidacy could very well transform the Republican Party.
I first met Rocky Chavez in 2011 at a huge Pro-Immigration reform rally at Mission San Luis Rey, in Oceanside. We invited all the political representatives that we could. Rocky was the only one who showed up and supported our cause even though he was invited at the last minute. He made his support for immigration reform known loud and clear, he said immigration reform was the civil rights issue of our time. He kept showing up to all our events and later he welcomed us at his Sacramento office. He is very active in the community; when he can’t make an event, he makes sure that someone from his very diverse staff attends.
When I ran for Vista City Council, he endorsed the Republican candidates, but he also approached me (uninvited), and he gave me some advice. I don’t think that he will win, or that I will ultimately vote for him, but I’m happy he is running. I hope that he runs on an aggressively pro-Immigrant platform. If he does that, he will help shift the stance on immigration for California Republicans. If he can do that his candidacy will be a success even if he doesn’t win.