The Political Action Committees “helping” Jeff Denham and Jose Hernandez are doing them no favors.
The two are duking it out in the new 10th Congressional District that includes Tracy, Manteca, Ripon and Stanislaus County. The district- in case the geniuses running the Republican and Democratic PACs are interested - is one of the fastest growing regions in California. There are a lot of new people here, especially those who once resided on the western side of the Altamont Pass.
Yet both PACs seem intent on focusing on the fact their candidate has deep roots in the valley in such an intense manner judging by their TV ads that this is somehow a major issue. Frankly, it’s a major affront to more than a few folks including myself.
Denham’s backers like to remind us he’s a valley boy through and through despite having to migrate north to run in the 10th. They also emphasize the fact he didn’t leave it except to serve America in the military including a stint in Desert Storm. Hernandez’ handlers emphasize the fact he’s valley born even though he was gone for 10 years to other places like space.
If it matters - and it really doesn’t - I’m a fifth generation Californian and a fifth generation valley boy although admittedly that is mostly on the Sacramento side of the Delta.
When I first moved to Manteca 22 years ago I was struck by the open hostility of some to what they called BATS - Bay Area Transplants. They even scrawled graffiti on underpasses and posted homemade signs along the 120 Bypass that read “BATS go home.”
During the past 22 years Manteca has almost doubled in population as has Tracy there are a lot of people here who weren’t born in the valley.
How long someone has lived or stayed in the valley - or anywhere in California for that matter - should be a non starter for anyone familiar with this state besides using it as a cash cow for national campaigns.
California is the ultimate example of a state made up of migrants whether it is from within - or outside - our borders.
It is the strength behind the dynamics that have shaped our economy and lifestyle.
That said the valley - especially the San Joaquin Valley portion - is the stepchild of California politics. Some of it has to do with its lightweight status when it comes to population which translates into significantly less representatives in Sacramento. Some of it has to do with our economy even though what happens in the valley - agriculture - is still by far the biggest private sector money and jobs generator in the state. And some of it has to do with perception in how others view the valley as if we’re are a land of peasants who basically feed you and you have to tolerate as you drive through - or after the high speed rail is built - speed through - to get to your destination.
That’s why I’m willing to bet voters in the 10th District not only are predominately non -valley natives but are also a tad more pragmatic than others elsewhere with the same labels as Democrats and Republicans.
We need leadership that can carry the valley’s burdens. It doesn’t matter where they were born, where they have lived, or even their party affiliation. They simply need to have a thorough understanding on our unique problems from air quality and water issues to the economic and social issues that got this region dubbed “The New Appalachia” by the Congress Budget Research Office. And they need to be willing to fight for us.
Whether they moved here from a stint in space or Atwater is irrelevant.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.