A fourth Democrat candidate, Robert Lawton, of Coarsegold, is running against District 4 Congressman Tom McClintock (R - Elk Grove) in the June 5 General Election, getting in the race just before the March 9 deadline.
“As I see it, the whole purpose of a primary election is to find out who the strongest candidate is,” Lawton said. “If the goal is to have a Democrat beat McClintock, wouldn’t it make sense to figure out who the strongest candidate is?”
The other three Democrats who will be on the ballot are Regina Bateson, Rosa Calderon and Jessica Morse. Morse has received the endorsement of the California Democratic Party, and Lawton has targeted her.
Lawton says his social media campaign ads, which cast doubt on Morse’s claims of “liberating human trafficking victims” and “escaping from ISIS militants” among other assertions, were put together after researching interviews, articles and materials (some of which were produced by the Morse campaign) prior to October, 2017. But he added those subjects in question are no longer on her web page.
“Jessica Morse is deeply flawed and unlikely to defeat Tom McClintock in an election - that’s primarily why I entered the race,” Lawton said. “If people vote for Jessica in the primary, they are basically giving a vote to Tom - because if it’s him and her in the general election in November, I think he will destroy her due to some of her credibility issues.”
Lawton endorses a $15 federal minimum wage, a ban of all semiautomatic assault weapons, except for military and law enforcement, and wants to see huge clean energy initiatives that would retrain and train workers to start manufacturing solar products to install all over the country.
“The environment wins, the workers win and U.S. manufacturing wins,” Lawton said.
In a race where he says each of the other three Democrat candidates have raised between $500,000 and $1 million, in a very unconventional campaign, Lawton said he will keep his campaign spending to under $5,000, and he is predominately self-funded, relying on social media, YouTube and his website to get his message out. He is not planning any appearances outside Madera County.
“I think Regina, as an example, has raised about $700,000, and she has spent about half of that,” Lawton said. “I have to question if those funds have been well spent. And what does she say to all those people that have contributed to her if she does not make it past the primary election? I’d be surprised if she refunded all the unspent money to those who contributed to her if she does not make it to the primary election.”
Lawton said he could spend 70% of his time traveling around the district raising contributions money, but “I don’t think its fair to ask people for money at this point, but if I should make it to the primary election, then I would be asking people to get their checkbooks out.”
Lawton, who considers himself “a Sanders Progressive,” moved from New York to Californian in 2006 and to Coarsegold in 2012.
Considering he has few political contributions or endorsements, Lawton does have confidence.
“I’m sort of trying to reinvent the wheel,” Lawton said. “I really don’t believe that I need to raise and spend a lot of money to get the attention of the voters, and I really do believe I can go the distance.” If I can win the primary, it will be me against McClintock.
The 4th District includes six counties and parts of four others, stretching from Lake Tahoe, through Yosemite, Eastern Madera County and on to Kings Canyon.
McClintock has held the District 4 seat since 2009.
Oakhurst town hall May 3
Lawton is coordinating an Oakhurst Town Hall meeting for the Democrat candidates for 6 p.m., May 3, at the Yosemite High School theater. Bateson and Calderon have agreed to participate and Morse, as of Tuesday morning, has yet to responded to his invitation.