Two Republican candidates run for Mono and Inyo 8th Congressional District
There are two candidates vying next week to fill Howard P. “Buck” McKeon’s 25th Congressional District seat: Tea Party favorite and a co-founder of the anti-immigrant California Minuteman group, Gregg Imus, and current 65th Assembly District Assemblyman, Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley).
Both Mono and Inyo counties have been redistricted out of McKeon’s district and are now lumped together in the newly-drawn 8th District, which sprawls from Mono County along the eastern side of the Sierra and south into Inyo County, then farther south to the Colorado River.
Along with Mono and Inyo counties, the district includes parts of the San Bernadino area and the cities of Highland, Crestline, Yucaipa, and other mountain and desert communities.
Both contenders are republicans. That’s because a new law allows the two candidates with the most votes in the primary election to move forward to the general election, regardless of the political party.
Although California is historically a blue state when it comes to presidential elections, the newly created 8th District is not, according to the 2012 Cook Political Report, which releases information on how partisan a congressional district is.
“California’s 8th Congressional District is the 87th most Republican district in the country,” the report stated. “In 2008, this district was won by John McCain (R), 57-43 percent over Barack Obama (D). In 2004, George W. Bush (R) won the district 65-35 percent over John Kerry (D).”
The race between Cook and Imus could be defined as a race between an “establishment” Republican (Cook) and a Tea Party-backed candidate (Imus).
Mono County Sheriff Rick Scholl, former Mono County District Attorney George Booth, and many other law enforcement organizations across the district have endorsed Cook. The Mono and Inyo County Republican Central Committees, Herman Cain, and many Tea Party-affiliated groups have endorsed Imus.
Meet Paul Cook in his own words
“My name is Colonel Paul Cook, USMC (ret.), and I am running for Congress in the 8th Congressional District. I am a combat veteran, having spent 26 years of my life in the U.S. Marine Corps. I fought in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star with Valor Device, and two Purple Hearts for wounds sustained in combat. I was also a small-town mayor and have served for the past five years as a state lawmaker.
“Much of my time as a town councilmember and mayor was spent working to improve transportation in the region and to challenge federal government agencies as they attempted to dictate use of the surrounding land.
“In my community … transportation and smart land use equals jobs, which is why these issues are top priorities. I also worked to bring local input into federal land issues. I believe we can be both capitalists and conservationists.
“Currently, I am engaged in the discussion on expansion of a military base in my area. I’m also working to help revive mining opportunities in the region to create new jobs. As a community leader, I was involved in creating Joshua Tree National Park.
“While our community was in favor of national park status, I made sure we had a voice in the process, despite the federal government’s obstinacy and reluctance to listen.
“Sadly, the federal government is often willing to force land decisions on rural areas, but it refuses to hold the City of Los Angeles accountable for the deplorable air quality caused by the drying of the Owens Lake bed.
“In Congress, I will make sure they cannot ignore this appalling problem.
“I have spent years battling big cities, with success, and will continue this fight in Congress.
“We need to find ways to encourage job growth not just in big cities, but on the back roads and in small towns that city politicians would prefer to ignore.
“Beyond good roads and smart land use, that means keeping taxes low. I’ve spent the past five years as a state lawmaker withstanding withering pressure to raise taxes.
“I’ve even helped reduce income, sales, and automobile taxes. No other candidate in this race has the experience to take on pro-tax forces in a body such as Congress.
“Last but not least, I will continue working for veterans and military families. Before ever holding office, I vowed to make them a top priority, and I’ve never wavered in that commitment.
“In recent years, I’ve served as Chair of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, where I’ve worked to address the many needs of veterans.”
Meet Gregg Imus in his own words
“Businesses are fleeing California. Many people say that California is lost, that there is no hope for California. I don’t think so.
“This 8th Congressional District is the hope of California. It is California’s Alamo. It is where we will fight back and win.
“I am not a politician. My Great Grandfather Hiram Imus moved his family to Big Pine in 1926 because of the opportunities the valley and mountains afforded them.
“Now the Bureau of Land Management, through environmental protection acts, will not even allow us to access our land. When elected, I will remind them that they work for us.
“I believe in limited government. Big government regulations are strangling business. I am not running to draft more legislation. I am running to repeal legislation. We cannot afford to wait any longer for our federal and state governments to fix the economy. We have the resources to fix our own economy.
“In 2005, I co-founded the Minuteman Civil Defense Corp to protect America’s Southern border. I have spent more than 2,500 hours on the California/Mexico border and know the illegal immigration well.
“With the help of over 2,000 volunteers, we brought the illegal immigration problem to the forefront of the nation.
“In 2007, Congress passed a bill to build 700 miles of border fence. They built two miles in California and stopped.
“Our southern border still remains porous to this day. Illegal immigration is costing California taxpayers $22 billion per year.
“I believe in strong border security, legal immigration and enforcing our current immigration laws.
“Americans must come first. With high unemployment there is no job Americans won’t do.
“I have most recently served in the state capital as Chief of Staff for California State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. On foreign policy, I believe in a strong national defense, as Reagan said, ‘Peace through Strength.’
“Regarding Afghanistan I have not heard one good compelling argument to have our military there.
“I have a strong conviction that our troops need to come home now. As far as our friend, Israel, we must always defend this ally that lives under the constant threat of being exterminated from the face of the earth. Their enemies are our enemies.
“I support their right to defend themselves. If there is a nuclear threat from Iran, then I support their efforts to remove this specific threat.
“I also believe in ending birthright citizenship to illegal aliens.
“We must make our voices heard. The establishment fears ‘citizen legislators rising up and taking our country back. Please join me in this effort.
“My wife of 33 years, Pennie, and I are Christians and are pro-life. We have nine children, both biological and adopted.
“In the words of Patrick Henry, ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’ It’s just that critical.”
A part of this report was initially printed in an April article in the Inyo Register.