California Sen. Alex Padilla is campaigning hard — just not for himself

BAKERSFIELD, CA - OCTOBER 22: Senator Alex Padilla, left, campaigns for Congressman Rudy Salas, against incumbent representative David Valladao for the newly ousted 22 congress district, at IBEW Local 428 on Saturday, October 22, on the occasion of a campaign event.  I am.  2022 in Bakersfield, California.  (Irrfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Senator Alex Padilla, left, is campaigning for Democratic Congressman Rudy Salas, who is racing on Saturday to defeat Republican Representative David Valladao in Bakersfield. (Irrfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

On an unusually cold morning in Central Valley, Senator Alex Padilla mobilized campaign volunteers, urging them to knock on doors and phone voters to promote the Democratic candidate in one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country. . .

“We’ll make that seat in the house blue!” Padilla told dozens of supporters. “There’s a reason the Republican Party is so scared and pouring a lot of money here – because they see what’s going on.”

Padilla, California’s first Latin American Senator Who was nominated for the poll?

Padilla’s Saturday morning appearance in an unnamed union hall – in support of Rudy Salas, a State Assembly member who is trying to oust GOP representative David Valladao – was the same as the rest of his campaign: focused on Democrats’ increased odds with Latin voters in California and other states.

“I won’t take my competition lightly,” Padilla said, between bites of lemon curd pancakes during an interview at a Pacoima café, which was once a seedy bar where he grew up. (He now lives in Porter Ranch.)

But Padilla did not air a single TV commercial for the general election, nor did he openly campaign for himself.

“I would like to come back with a democratic majority, right? How can I maximize my chances of being dominant and influential? Padille said.

From left, Bakersfield City Council Candidate Manpreet Kaur, Congress Candidate Rudy Salas, Senator Alex Padilla, and State Assembly Candidate Leticia Perez campaign together in Bakersfield on Saturday. (Irrfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

In addition to Salas, Padilla campaigned alongside House candidate Christie Smith in North Los Angeles County and Senator Michael Bennett in Colorado. She plans to appear in Orange County in the next few days with Rep Katie Porter and House nominee Jay Chen, as well as Senator Mark Kelly in Arizona.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in California by 23 points, so there’s no question Padilla will be re-elected. Polls show the senator a double-digit lead over his GOP rival, Mark Meuser.

“Let’s vote, let’s follow the numbers. They look great, ”Padilla said.

Padilla, 49, also has an exponential fundraising advantage, according to the Federal Election Commission, having a bank of $ 11.6 million as of September 30, compared to Meuser’s $ 835,000.

Meuser said his perspective was supported by his reputation among GOP voters and on social media.

“The internet is the great equalizer,” Meuser said in a telephone interview.

Meuser said he initially planned to run for California Secretary of State, as he did in 2018, when Padilla beat him by 29 percentage points, but after reviewing the government’s response to the pandemic, the Senate decided to apply.

“It has become so clear that we need someone who understands the Constitution,” he said. “The more we got involved in COVID, the clearer it became that this is where my unique set of experiences, as a constitutional scholar, as a constitutional advocate, would have been the best.”

Meuser is a graduate of Oak Brook College of Law, an uncredited Christian correspondence school with an impressive pass rate of bar exam. They believe their legal work will boost their campaign, as well as their part in California Democrats’ efforts to stop President Trump from contesting the state vote in 2020, and election officials are trying to stop radio host Larry Elder from running. From to appear in the recall ballot of 2021.

“I have a good reputation in California’s grassroots communities,” said Meiser, an Ironman competitor and avid reader born in Huntington Beach.

“If they get involved and show up and vote, I think we have a good chance of winning,” he said.

Meeser, 48, sparked controversy last week when he compared his decision to take a job in California to a conversion in Africa.

“If you want to be a missionary, do you go to the Bible Belt? Or are you going to the dark continent of Africa? Meuser said in an interview with the Bay Area News Group. “If you want to help people, go where they are most needed.”

Meuser said he drew an analogy and declined to comment on criticisms that the remarks were racist.

Padilla condemned the comments as “hideous and offensive,” words that echoed his October 10 criticism of three Los Angeles city council members and after hearing a union leader on a tape make racist comments,

Padilla’s call for the resignation of Latin Democrats, most notably the then speaker Nuri Martinez, a longtime aide and high school friend, led other elected officials to make similar demands.

“It took maybe a second to think, if it were someone else, what would I say?” Padilla said. “And I know these people, I consider them friends, but that’s not true. And so my reaction was my reaction and I felt I had to talk.

Dan Schnoor, who teaches political communications at USC and UC Berkeley, said that while virtually all Democrats in the country have now called for council members to resign, this was not true immediately after the recording came out.

“For the first day or so, most of the politicians were very cautious. It wasn’t until Padilla invited him to step down that the rest of the world took sides, “said Schnoor, who was unsuccessful. He ran against Padilla for the post of Secretary of State in 2014.” He deserves a lot of credit. for being the first major political leader without a vested interest in the consequences of taking such a strong stance. “

The son of a short-lived cook and housekeeper who immigrated from Mexico, Padilla and his two brothers grew up in a poor community surrounded by drug dealers and pimps. His parents emphasized education, volunteer work at his Catholic church, and baseball, activities that Padilla says kept him busy and kept him out of trouble., He earned an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and returned home to work in his field.

Padilla’s life story resonates with voters.

“I love that he comes from a working-class family and has worked his way up,” said Cathy Romley, 65, who retired from Bakersfield.

His career as an engineer continued Proposition 187 – The successful electoral measure of 1994 that sought to deny many taxpayer-funded services to illegal immigrants in the country. Padilla was part of a generation of young Latinos from Los Angeles who became involved in politics by a motion, which was later largely rejected by the courts.

In 1999, Padilla, 26, became the youngest person selected for the Los Angeles City Council. two years later he was elected prime minister, then was elected to the state senate in 2006.

Californians are seeing the results of his tenure in their daily lives, banning disposable plastic grocery bags and that calorie count shown in restaurant chains. (The latter was suggested by a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes by Padilla’s mother.)

After Padilla was elected secretary of state, he was credited with increasing access to the vote, but faced bipartisan criticism over a non-contracted voter education contract with close ties to Democrats. Although his tenure was not blameless, he avoided major losses involving other Democrats in the San Fernando Valley.

“Alex is practically a Boy Scout,” said Bill Carrick, a longtime Democratic strategist who has never worked for Padilla.

When entrepreneur and community leader Raji Brar introduced Padilla at the Bakersfield event, he said his presence in the former GOP stronghold gave “recognition” to local Democrats.

“We don’t have the numbers that usually care for a US senator. “Maybe we don’t even need them to win. But it shows that what we do here is important, ”said Brar, 46.

This story is basically. was printed in the Los Angeles Times,

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