Monday, May 7, 2018

Jessica Gomez: Reluctantly Falling Into Line

Jessica Gomez is changing. She resists, but she is pushed, cajoled and bullied. 

Her allies are trying to make a real Republican out of her. It is working.

Gomez: "I am absolutely a real Republican."

Jessica Gomez went on the conservative local Bill Meyer talk radio show and tap-danced for twenty five minutes. She proved she wasn't a heretic. 

Click HERE, then on the video
Jessica Gomez announced herself to the political world with a 90 second video. She still has it up, and it still tops her campaign website and Facebook page. The video  seems to be the real, authentic Jessica Gomez. Can the woman in that video pass herself off as a Republican, if she is under real pressure to fess up? 

Yes  She did it by finding wiggle room and by nitpicking her beliefs so that her answers confirmed to the checklist of acceptable Republican orthodoxy.

If she had a credible Republican opponent she would be exposed as a reluctant soldier, but fortunately for her, voters have no alternative. Within the chatter of Facebook and other social media she is understood as having all the wrong instincts.

In Trump's America, a real Republican candidate is opposed  to abortion, believes the 2nd Amendment is absolute, is skeptical of human-caused climate change, is opposed to carbon taxation, opposed to sanctuary cities, opposed to minimum wage laws, opposed to PERS, objects to business regulation, objects to taxes, and opposes Democrats.

Throughout the radio show one could hear Gomez's resistance to being pinned down. She was evasive. She was qualified. She said she would have to learn more about some things.  She walked the gauntlet and survived, because on issue after issue she found a way to agree with the Republican agenda, generally by finding small points on which to find agreement.

Regulation. She acknowledged she had been a Democrat until a year ago but said she got fed up with "heavy handed regulation and anti-business legislation." (minute 2) That is what caused her to change, she said.

Abortion. She acknowledged (minute 21:30) she was pro-choice, "but I don't support late term abortions." She said she opposed Oregon's use of taxpayer money to fund abortions. "That's over the line."

Climate. She acknowledged that she was not one of those climate deniers, and that brought in an accusation from a questioner (minute 20) who stated, "It sounds like you are going along with climate alarmists." Gomez responded she was always open to hearing more and learning more, but in any case she thought the "cap and tax" bill proposed by Democrats went too far and it would pull $750 million out of the Oregon economy for no good purpose. She came down in the right spot, in opposition.

PERS. She acknowledged that Oregon's public employees had bargained for certain benefits (minute 9) and that "we need to keep the promises we made." That is a danger zone. However, she added she intends to work to fix the big PERS problem, saying she has done a lot of work of the issue and "we need to do something to help our state." 

Sanctuary cities. She had spoken in her introductory interview about community and valuing "our diversity and cultural differences," which hits a tone that contradicts Trump-style Republican messaging. She resolved that, saying flatly "I am not in favor of sanctuary cities or open borders." 

The line of questioning from talk show host and listeners were all in one direction: are you a heretic?  Listeners heard it on the radio show, which I expect will appear in show archives in a week. When it comes down to a vote, she is orthodox. 

Moreover, upstate Republicans are superimposing their own message. Local Republican voters received a mailer this week sent from the Senate Leadership Fund, the body that works to elect Republican senators. Gomez did not solicit it, nor was she even aware it would be sent. Still, it sends a big message: Gomez is still a Republican, part of the state Republican team, whether she wants it or not. Her public presentation is not under her sole control. She has been drafted.

She is falling into line.  

On her Facebook page she introduces a warm endorsement  statement by Alan DeBoer this way:  "I am incredibly proud to have the endorsement of Sen. Alan DeBoer. I have the experience to fight higher taxes, rein in runaway state spending, and defend our constitutional freedoms in Salem."

In one sentence she posits three threats and presents herself as a fighter in a partisan struggle. This isn't the message of her video, but it is the one it is safe to put into print. She stood her ground as an independent as long as she could. Now she is a Republican.

[I expect the interview will be available on the KMED radio website in a week.  Look for Monday, 7:30 a.m. broadcast.]

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