Saturday, May 26, 2018

Jessica Gomez: Republican Candidate for State Senate

Gomez: "We have an opportunity in southern Oregon to have a respectful discussion."

Gomez: "I know Jeff Golden. He's spent a lifetime contributing to this community. I have a lot of respect for him."

Jessica Gomez said she hoped to get through this campaign doing it her own way--and with reputation intact. She knows it has not worked out that way for others.

Gomez, in her office.
Jessica Gomez is the co-owner of a micro chip fabrication business located in an office park near the Medford airport, and she just won the Republican nomination for the State Senate seat currently occupied by the retiring Alan DeBoer. We met in her office, where she quickly removed a lunch bag before I took a photo of her and the signed photo of Greg Walden. I asked if I could describe her as "fourty-ish." She said she was 40. 

Jessica Gomez presents in person very much like her introductory video. Non-controversial. Community-minded. Earnest. A builder, not a fighter. I told her I had described the video in earlier blogs as a clear message statement: she is a Republican but not a Trump-Republican. She wanted to project a tone of cooperation. 

She said I got it right.

Over the course of a two hour meeting--and quick tour of the factory--she repeated her hope to avoid pointless, divisive issues that were designed as wedge issues by the national parties. Issues like abortion and sanctuary cities and gun laws aren't really the important things for the southern Oregon region, she said, and they serve a partisan political purpose, not a real policy choice. Voters are divided and dug into talking points on those issues, so people are unwilling to acknowledge the complications and nuances of them. Those wedge issues keep voters divided and distracted. She said she wanted to focus on things that a State Senator can actually change ,and where people can work together and make actual progress. She said the important things for us are jobs, a strong economy.

She told me she understood that campaigns in the hotly contested senate district have "taken on a life of their own" and that this "isn't a comfortable position." There is a pattern established for campaigns here for the state's Democratic and Republican Party leadership to run massive independent campaigns of TV and mailers on behalf of the candidates. It has already happened in her race. Candidates lose control of their message.

Her opponent is Democrat Jeff Golden. She said she recognized she was not yet as well known as he is, so she will need a big campaign. She said she had a lot of respect for Golden. 

She said the District had a lot of Democrats and liberals in Ashland and Republicans and conservatives in Medford. She said she thought this District needed someone "balanced"  to represent it. 

I asked, What about Jeff Golden?

She answered carefully. "The perception of Jeff Golden is that he stands for the left side of the equation."

I asked her what things she hoped people would know about her by election day. I said that most voters had only so much mental "shelf space" for politicians, so she might try to pick seven distinctive attributes to be known for, and that five of them have already been determined. Just seven? I said voters have busy lives. Her seven are:

1. Her name is Jessica Gomez.
2. She is a woman.
3. She is 40-ish.
4  She is the Republican nominee.
5. She is the co-owner of a technology business.

In hair nets for facility tour
That is biography. The final two took some time and thought. I waited. These represent her political message and positioning. 

6. She said she wants people to know she wants statewide decision making to better represent Southern Oregon, because it is currently dominated by Portland.

7. She said she wants people to know she represents political balance, being neither far left nor far right.

I asked if her Republican voters and the Republican caucus will be satisfied with that. I said I was pretty confident she will be under pressure to follow the national Republican Party's policies, i.e. move right, or sound more like Trump and adopt Trump positions. 

She said "I have to be comfortable with myself and my way of thinking about issues and about how to treat people. People can misconstrue people being nice with not being strong. That is not the case with me. I am strong, too."

This may not work out for her. The political process works to push people toward hard decisions because legislators make yes-no votes, and voters themselves have to make partisan choices, Golden or Gomez. 

On a yes-no vote, there is no middle.


Anonymous said...

Art Baden is a retired insurance executive living in Ashland. He and his wife are active in Democratic politics. I am posting this for him because he is having connection problems that keeps him from posting on his own:

"And on our next State Senator’s first vote - with which party to caucus - there is no middle. Jessica Gomez presents an attractive and moderate facade, which, if we allow ourselves to be fooled by its glossy veneer, allows us to forget what is the nature of the Republican minority with which she would caucus. Putting aside those divisive social issues she characterizes as pointless wedge issues (a woman’s right to choose, a student’s right to a safe gun free school, an immigrant’s right to contribute to our society), the economic issues are just as informative.

The Republican caucus and those who fund them (The Koch Brothers and their ilk) have no interest in tax reform that will shift the burden off of the working and middle class onto the wealthy and powerful. They have no interest in funding our children’s education in this State; rather they want to shift public education funding to the private schools to which they send their children. They have no interest in creating a health care system that serves the people, rather than their political contributors in big Pharma and the insurance industry. They have no interest in protecting our environment against the fossil fuel companies that fund them. They have no interest in a livable minimum wage for workers; rather they complain about over-regulation and do all they can to destroy one of the few institutions left that protects workers - labor unions. And they have no interest in allowing local communities to institute rent control, or in funding subsidized housing, so our young families can have an affordable place to live.

They have one interest, protecting the wealth and political power of those who fund their campaigns. And hats off to them, they do a very effective job at that.

If Jessica Gomez believes that she will be the agent for compromise, a bridge between the parties, she is naive; and naivety is not a quality I look for when choosing a legislator. And if she believes we’ll overlook the regressive policies of the Republican Party she so recently joined, there is one way to disabuse her of that notion.

The Republicans in the State legislature will continue to obstruct the solutions that will help the majority of Oregonians, because that’s what is in the interest of their political contributors. Follow the money. What we need is a Democratic super majority in the State Senate that will find solutions that benefit the many, not the few. That’s why I’m voting for Jeff Golden in November."

Ashland, Oregon

Ed Cooper said...

I'm relatively new to the left side of the as I sd lk, having abandoned the Republican Party when Cheney and his sockpuppet Bush lied us into a fruitless war in Iraq, which has still not recovered and from which Cheney personally profited economically. That said, Art Bzden has beautifully laid out all the reasons I would never vote for a Republican in a local or State Election.
Personally, I would like to see a really vibrant third Party, which the deplorable named Independent Party is not.

Anonymous said...

I myself am tired of the polarized perspectives that pit people against each other in our community. It’s long overdo that we have a person who upholds unity and brings us the reminder that we are all in need of balance ou on issues needing attention! The old adage there is strength in unity, divided we are weakened applies! It’s long overdo to have a candidate who carries the awareness to hold both kindness and strength, to make a differencethat holds this perspective. She’ll have my vote

Anonymous said...

Ho hun (yawn): the middle.

Curt Ankerberg said...

What does Gomez stand for? NOTHING.
What will Gomez fight for? NOTHING.
Gomez is an empty suit, with few skills needed for Salem.
Gomez got $100K from PACs in the primary for ONE reason. She's their water carrier. She doesn't represent the common man or Main Street. She represents PACs, special interest groups, and the Chamber of Commerce.
I know conservative republicans. I am one. Conservatives will abandon Gomez in the general election because she's not one of them, and they know it. Gomez is not a republican. Gomez is a documented flip-flopper on the issues. I won't vote for her.
16,000 Dems voted in the District 3 primary, while only 10,600 republicans voted. Dems are much better at getting out the vote.
Golden will get a high voter turnout of Dems in the general election, while Gomez will get luke-warm support, and she'll be lucky to get 40% of the vote in spite of spending a million dollars. I see Golden winning in a blow-out, 60% to 40%. BTW....Walden will beat his Dem opponent 60% to 40% in the general election as well.