This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- Former NFL player Rosey Grier has dropped out of the race for California governor
- Angered by his decision to block a bill on single-payer healthcare, a group of activists has launched an effort to recall Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon from office.
- Rohrabacher faces hostile crowd during panel about Russia and Trump at Politicon in Pasadena
- How 2018 could be the year of the rookie in California's pivotal congressional races
Business executive and Marine Corps veteran Andrew Grant is challenging Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) for a Northern California congressional seat coveted by both parties.
Grant, a Republican, is a newcomer to politics but has had a career steeped in defense, national security and foreign policy, including serving in the U.S. State Department after he left the military.
Grant said he plans to keep the campaign for the 7th District focused on the issues most critical to the county and his district, including healthcare, the economy and threats to national security. He said he wants to avoid getting caught up in the political “noise” in Washington.
And he’s well aware that Bera’s last three congressional races have been bruising political contests.
The 2016 race between Bera and Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones was the most expensive in the state, drawing in more than $14.3 million. Mudslinging and allegations of wrongdoing were the focal point of the race, with ads that focused on Bera’s father being convicted of illegally funneling money to his son’s earlier congressional campaigns, and Jones being accused of sexual harassment.
“I’ve seen what happened in the past, and that’s unfortunate,” Grant said Thursday. “From me, you’re going to get honesty and accountability.”
Grant is the president and CEO of the Northern California World Trade Center in Sacramento, which supports U.S. export businesses, and used to be an executive with the Raley’s supermarket chain.
The U.S. Naval Academy graduate was born and raised in the east San Francisco Bay area. While an intelligence officer in the Marines, he served in combat duty in Kosovo, the Middle East and Afghanistan. At the State Department, he served as a specialist on North Korea and threats posed by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
Grant said that he voted for President Trump in November and that while all the president’s decisions have not been perfect, he has rightly focused on the concerns of working-class Americans.
Grant said he still is formulating detailed positions on issues such as healthcare and immigration. But he said he generally supports a market-based approach for healthcare. He was skeptical about the need for a massive wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and expressed sympathy for immigrants who seek a better life in the U.S.
Grant, 45, and his wife, Mary Ellen Grant, live in Folsom with their three children.
Bera, who won by 2.4% in November, also is being challenged by Republican Omba Kipuke, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo.