A handful of topics were on the table when candidates for political offices ranging from Congress to county supervisor appealed for support at the San Joaquin County Republican Party’s Candidate Forum.
But one was integral to nearly every stump speech heard Monday at Chez Shari’s at the Manteca Golf Course.
While the current El Nino weather system is expected to improve California’s water outlook for the upcoming year, the four consecutive years of drought has taken its toll on the most integral of natural resources, especially in the agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley.
And no candidate hit on water nearly as hard as Congressman Jeff Denham – a farmer himself who currently represents California’s 10th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
“Ultimately it just makes more sense to reduce the regulations that are strangling farmers right now,” Denham said as the opening candidate of the night. “In years like this we just push more water out to the ocean, but why would we put fish above people?”
Denham said he stands against California’s twin tunnels and is in favor of expanding water storage facilities in the state. That includes raising Shasta Dam to improve the capacity and other projects that would add roughly 5 million acre-feet of water storage to prevent shortages that have come as a result of the last four exceedingly dry years.
The Turlock Republican, who serves as the Chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials subcommittee, also took aim at California’s high speed rail project which he said would do everything in his power to kill before it ever reached the point of construction – arguing against the $100 billion price tag, and championing something like what Texas has recently done with a high speed rail track between Dallas and Houston that is financed privately.
And he stood firm on his belief that the Second Amendment should be fully upheld, and noted that while he’s firmly in favor of ensuring American securituy as a veterans of the Gulf War he knows how important a complete strategy is when sending troops into a hostile area.
“If you’re going to ask me to send troops into harm’s way, you better be able to tell what the strategy is and what our exit strategy is,” Denham said. “And we better provide the benefits that we promised you when you come home.”
But Denham isn’t running without a challenge from a fellow Republican.
According to Denair School Board member and almond grower Robert Hodges, the Congressman has fallen short on some of the principles he has taken a conservative stance on. He answered a question from the audience that he’d be unwilling to budge when it comes to being lobbied by the political establishment in favor of a chairmanship of a committee – a swipe at Denham who has become a prominent figure in agricultural and water rights in Washington, D.C., and has served as the chairman of multiple House subcommittees.
And Hodges made more pointed references of Denham’s voting record – claiming that he doesn’t represent the ideals of the voters on his votes on amnesty, sanctuary cities, Planned Parenthood (although Denham affirmed that he is vehemently pro-life in his remarks) as well as others.
“Anybody who voted for Barack Obama’s Omnibus spending bill should be kicked out of office,” said Hodges in another shot at Denham. “We have to take our country back and point it in our direction.
“We have to elect conservative, (bring) Christian values back, and we have to elect the people who won’t forget them when they go to a vote.”