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Death threats fail to stop Congress hopeful
Karen Matthews-Davis during a campaign appearance. - photo by Photo Contributed

Threats on her life haven’t derailed Karen Matthews-Davis’ attempt to take 9th Congressional District Representative Jerry McNerney to task for what she says is an apathetic approach to governing. 

The former Manteca city clerk and clerk-recorder of Stanislaus County that retired from public life several years after she was brutally assaulted in her garage by the reported member of an anti-tax group that was angry about a lien she refused to lift on a member says that the threats on her life have continued since she announced her candidacy in December. 

All of San Joaquin County is in the district except Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon.

And they’ve grown even more detailed and specific in the last several months – prompting the FBI to get involved and for her to once again apply for a concealed weapon permit to protect herself every time she steps outside of her front door. 

While it has stifled her campaign somewhat – “there are things that I can’t do because of security concerns” – she isn’t giving in on the fight against what she says is a misrepresented group of people that needs somebody willing to fight tooth-and-nail for the jobs and the economic recovery that the district, and the country, so desperately needs. 

“We are in trouble. We are in so much trouble as a country and there are so many things going on right here in our district that need to be addressed,” Matthews-Davis said. “We happen to have a very nice man in office representing us, but he hasn’t done anything for the people of our district. We need manufacturing jobs – we need to do things that provide economic resources to the people that live right here. 

“There are just so many things that need to be addressed and its time that they are.”

When Matthews-Davis stops to think about the issues that are plaguing the district, she doesn’t think of a boilerplate response. There are no one-word answers – no cheat-sheet quips that summarizes her Republican candidacy. Her thoughts are long and drawn-out and her ideas aren’t all that far out of line from what you’d hear on television news broadcasts from conservative parts of the country. 

But at the heart of it all, Matthews-Davis says that she feels the way that she feels because it’s the way that the people she has talked to feel. She’s channeling their fear about losing their jobs because healthcare costs are skyrocketing. She’s sharing their belief that a hike in minimum wage will stifle any future job growth. 

They aren’t talking points. They’re heartfelt and deliberate answers and while she admits that some of them might not necessarily be so well-received – like offering to trade “Obamacare” for the minimum wage increase if elected – they’re definitely carried with her district in mind. 

“I go out there and I talk to people and those are the sorts of things that they’re concerned with – losing their jobs because ‘Obamacare’ is making it too expensive for employers to keep them on the payroll. People are legitimately worried about that,” she said. “I think that because of the high cost of insurance businesses can’t afford to raise their minimum wage – these are the kinds of things that are holding up growth in not just our district but across the entire country. 

“If you look around Manteca and Lathrop and Stockton you can see that it’s perfect for manufacturing – it was a great place for manufacturing at one time. But you have places like Texas that are drawing businesses away from here by offering them tax incentives and breaks and that’s killing our economy. We need to look into offering those here in California. We need to help our people.”

Matthews-Davis, according to reports, became the target of a violent anti-tax group in late 1993 when she refused to lift a lien that topped $400,000 from one of its members. An Oregon man, Roger Steiner, was convicted for ambushing her while she was in her garage – beating her to the ground and then placing an unloaded gun to her head and dry-firing it several times. 

She was also sexually assaulted during the incident.

He spent 18 years in federal prison and was recently released. He contacted the Modesto Bee in February and claimed that he was being “railroaded” in the press and that he was the victim in the situation because he spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Since his release, according to Matthews-Davis, the threats against her life have intensified and she believes that the same group or the people affiliated with it two decades ago – a group calling themselves the Juris Christian Assembly – is responsible. 

It hasn’t deterred her. 

“It’s been scary and it’s like throwing a bucket of ice water on democracy,” she said. “Nobody should be threatened because they’re running for office, but I’m not somebody that runs from threats. It has changed the way that I can do things, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get the word out and talk about the sorts of things that matter. 

“Immigration in this country needs to be overhauled. Maybe it’s time that we bring the military back from one of the bases overseas and get them to protect our borders, and made it mandatory for all immigrants to assimilate into American life – to learn civics and basic English so that they can succeed. There are a lot of things that need to happen in Washington, D.C., that aren’t happening right now. It’s time somebody stepped up and took care of those.”