“When you have a voice, you also have a moral obligation to use that voice for good.”
– Leandra Medine
As demographic changes continue to shift the political power center in the inland region toward Democrats, some Republican candidates are repositioning themselves in hopes of retaining political relevance.
An example of this is the current fight for political survival under way in San Bernardino County between two Republican candidates who are competing to represent the county’s Second District.
San Bernardino County’s Second Supervisory District encompasses the cities of Upland, Rancho Cucamonga and most of Fontana. It also includes the unincorporated communities of Devore, Lytle Creek, San Antonio Heights, Mt. Baldy and the entire Rim of the World Mountain Communities from Cedar Pines Park to Green Valley Lake. It has a population of about 405,000 constituents.
Technically, supervisor positions in the county are considered non-partisan and party affiliations are not included on the official ballot. Historically, however, Republicans have held the lion’s share of seats on the county’s Board of Supervisors and at times, their policies have reflected this leaning.
Interestingly, Republicans are positioned to hold this seat for another cycle since the only candidates for Second District Supervisor on this year’s ballot are both Republican. Yet, Democrats have a clear majority as it relates to the number of registered voters in the district, 39.1 percent of registered voters are Democrat, 32.4 percent are Republican, and just over 23 percent registered with no party affiliation. This certainly begs the question—How did local Democratic Party leaders allow this seat to go unchallenged?
In the meantime, two-term Second District Republican incumbent, Janice Rutherford, is being challenged by 40th District State Assemblyman, Mark Steinorth. Steinorth decided not to run for re-election to the State Assembly many believe, because he faced a formidable challenge from San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor, James Ramos.
Steinorth’s decision not to run for the State Assembly was prudent. Ramos is a popular Democrat and the 40th Assembly District has turned Blue in recent years–40 percent of its registered voters identify as Democrats compared to 32.6 percent who are registered Republicans.
Now, with Steinorth challenging Rutherford, two Republicans, who both lay claim to traditional Republican social and fiscal conservative values, are locked in battle.
Steinorth obviously decided Rutherford was an easy target. Some voters may have turned away from Rutherford because she supported the merger of Upland’s fire department with San Bernardino County Fire and supported the implementation of an annual fire fee on property owners in San Antonio Heights. However, Steinorth too has strayed from his staunch conservative principles and voted on issues of interest to Democrats during his tenure in Sacramento.
Both candidates also find themselves in the awkward position of loudly criticizing a candidate they previously endorsed. Rutherford twice endorsed Steinorth in his bid for the State Assembly and Steinorth supported Rutherford in her previous campaigns for Supervisor. It just goes to show that all is fair in love, war and “politics.”
At this year’s state convention and as required under Republican Party rules, Rutherford, as the incumbent, secured the endorsement of the San Bernardino County Republican Party while Steinorth on the other hand, received 50 percent of the votes casts by San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee members.
This year, voters in San Bernardino County’s Second District must choose between two halves of the same whole for county supervisor—two socially and fiscally Conservative Republican candidates.
It appears the Republican party has positioned itself well in this contest, while the Democratic Party has remained in absentia. In the Age of Trump, it is hard to believe Democrats did not enter a viable candidate in this race.
This is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.