From the Sept 29, 2016 edition of The Mountain Messenger
LOYALTON–Last week, the Democratic Party’s offerings for Congress and State Senate made their spiels in Downieville. On Tuesday, the show moved over to the Loyalton Social Hall.
As California has opted for an open primary, these candidates came in second to the Republican incumbents in that March election.
We are tempted to suggest the Democrats have learned something, but hesitate to put such a questionable notion in print. If, however, a comparison must be made to California Republicans’ stubborn insistence on alienating potential friends, the Democrats have become brilliant.
Congressional candidate Jim Reed and State Senate wannabee Rob Rowen are the sort of Democrats we have been begging for. Once called regular, rural Democrats, the pair now pass for conservatives.
Their immediate point is the lack of representation northeastern California has been receiving: functionally very little.
With the exception of Brian Dahle, Rowen noted, the Republicans can offer little. He congratulated Dahle for his willingness to work across the aisle.
“If, as [incumbent] Senator Gaines has, you vote against any and every innocuous thing the Democrats propose, that majority will simply ignore you if you do come up with a good idea. It’s just how it is.”
Rowen calls himself a moderate Democrat, a fiscal conservative. He is a shooter, a small business owner, an Army veteran, and was raised rural. He was born in Eureka, lived in Weaverville and graduated from high school in Redding. He has set chokers, worked in sawmills, and firmly believes the forest needs thinning.
After being drafted by the Dodgers, Rowen spent five years playing professional baseball before an injury ended his pitching career. He then joined the Army to become a forward artillery director, a job he happily never plied in combat, given those practitioner’s limited life expectancy.
The son of a veteran who returned with the GI Bill to become a history/economics teacher, Rowen will admit to having been immersed in politics, as a lack of TV prompted him to read his father’s textbooks. He has long been active in Democratic Party politics.
Still, Rowen firmly believes that it is people, not government who solve problems. The smaller, more local the government, the better and more efficient it is.
Rowen suggests his opponent, Ted Gaines, functionally represents the urban portions of this district: understandable, as that’s where the votes are. That leaves the rural area’s needs untended: co-generation, water, jobs, timber, health care, and infrastructure development.
Like Rowen, Jim Reed is a believer in high-speed internet. They both believe government must force delivery of that service to rural California.
Reed received a perfectly good education through the University of California system, earning a degree in electrical engineering. He then wasted that scholasticism by becoming a lawyer. He’s the guy you call when you get in trouble with your taxes. He discovered “tax” and “lawyer” are two hated words in our marvelous native tongue, so he refers to himself as a “taxpayer advocate.”
Reed has several practical offerings for saving federal money to pay for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, including that high speed internet thing. He believes we’d be better off educating our young than enslaving them to years of debt, and does not believe corporations are people.
Reed is of an old fashion: he believes in compromise and personal relations with all his counterparts, not merely his co-ideologues. He holds his opponent, Congressman Doug LaMalfa, as a poster child of gridlock.
“My loyalty would be to my district and the congress, not my political party,” he vows.
Editor’s note: The Mountain Messenger, California’s oldest weekly newspaper since 1853, is published on Thursdays from Downieville, California.
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