Hilary Hodge: Doug LaMalfa should know no seat is safe
March 20, 2017
As I watched the live feed of Congressperson Doug LaMalfa's town hall meeting at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, I couldn't help but feel a little pride for our community.
Before the event, I saw pictures posted on social media of the long line of constituents waiting in the rain. When the event got started, I watched citizen after citizen step up to the microphone and ask heart-felt and informed questions. I watched the collective audience raise green signs for agreement and red signs when disagreeing, with little dissent among the audience.
The red and green signs were an effective tactic and allowed for clear messages to our congressperson. Our community filled the largest hall in our county with informed and thoughtful voters in order to help guide LaMalfa to make informed decisions on behalf of his constituents.
As the town hall meeting continued, it became more and more clear that Doug LaMalfa wasn't holding a town hall in order to listen to his constituents and get direction about our collective values and our critical needs.
If LaMalfa won’t honor his constituents or listen to registered voters in his district, then he no longer represents the people of District 1 and should be voted out.
One voter offered informed solutions to our healthcare problems as the crowd chanted "single payer," advocating for a healthcare system that benefits people rather than insurance companies.
LaMalfa defended the proposed American Health Care Act (ACHA) or "Trumpcare" which would cut taxes for the richest 1 percent, repeal key components of the Affordable Care Act, and cause millions of Americans to lose their health care almost immediately. As Bob Bryan of Business Insider reported on March 13, "as many as 14 million more Americans would be without health insurance under the AHCA in 2018."
That number nearly doubles by 2024 and poor people would be disproportionately affected.
According to a March 14 article by Astead W. Herndon and Victoria McGrane in The Boston Globe, "Among the 24 million additional Americans who would be expected to lose insurance because of the GOP bill, according to the CBO estimate, poor people between 50 and 64 would fare the worst." Folks in rural areas like LaMalfa's district would face the greatest impact.
LaMalfa continues to defend a bill that would hurt his constituents.
LaMalfa faced many concerns from our community and was asked a poignant question about small farmers and the impact of a changing climate and labor force. As a small family farmer connected the dots between climate change and growing food, with additional commentary on the value of immigration at it relates to farm labor and diverse vibrant communities, LaMalfa, once a working farmer himself, made no comment.
LaMalfa was asked about Proposition 59, the ballot proposition instructing California's elected officials to use their authority, potentially through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to overturn the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision, which granted rights of personhood to corporations for the purposes of campaign contributions. The proposition passed by 53.18 percent in California. When asked if he would support the wishes of California's voters and co-sponsor a bill to overturn Citizen's United, LaMalfa declined, causing the crowd to erupt in chants of, "You work for us."
As the meeting came to a close, it was clear to the voters of California's First Congressional District that Doug LaMalfa rolled into town in order to try and sell political snake oil to the people of Northern California. If LaMalfa won't honor his constituents or listen to registered voters in his district, then he no longer represents the people of District 1 and should be voted out.
Part of the reason LaMalfa thinks he doesn't have to listen to the people at a town hall in Nevada County is because he believes his congressional seat is safe. LaMalfa's district is considered a "safe GOP district."
If LaMalfa is going to have any fear about losing his seat, and take his constituents seriously, we would need to change the party registration on District 1 to reflect the values of voters. We would need a bold voter registration campaign that registers Democrats either from new voters or from people who have been "No Party Preference" or another party up to this point.
According to the most recent information on the California Secretary of State's website, there are 414,311 registered voters in California's First Congressional District. Of that number, 135,684 registered voters, or 30.34 percent, are registered Democrats; 171,662 registered voters, or 41.43 percent, are registered Republicans; 79,170 registered voters, or 19.11 percent, are no party preference; and the remaining 37,795 registered voters, or 9.12 percent, are made up of other parties.
Democrats would need to register or flip 35,978 voters in order to take the majority in District 1.
No seat is safe. If Congressperson Doug LaMalfa won't listen to his constituents, we will replace him with someone who will.
Hilary Hodge lives in Grass Valley. Her column is published by The Union on Tuesdays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.