We Republicans in Santa Clarita are in deep trouble. Our 25th Congressional District is the only one in all of Los Angeles County still represented by the GOP, making us the last stronghold, the resistance to the overwhelming, stultifying Democrat stranglehold in Southern California.
But there’s a strong possibility we may lose this midterm election, considered a tossup by all the political experts. Yet most of us don’t seem to get what’s at stake. The same cannot be said of Democrats.
Walk down any street in Santa Clarita and you’ll see a yard sign for Democrat Katie Hill. But you’ll have to look twice to find her last name, which is printed with gray ink, so it just looks like “Katie” is running. Until recently, Hill was an unknown who had never run for any political office. Now she has a one-word name, just like a celebrity.
Hill’s opponent, Republican incumbent Steve Knight, doesn’t have nearly as many yard signs in residential areas. However, he does have three decades of experience in public service. He has been a congressman since 2014. Before that, he was on the Palmdale City Council and in the California Assembly and Senate. He has served our community well.
Still, his campaign lacks the wow factor associated with Hill. While the Santa Clarita Republican headquarters is full of Knight volunteers on any given day, Hill’s campaign boasts of 3,000 volunteers, who are organized and canvassing thousands of homes on a level that I’ve never seen before in Santa Clarita.
Hill is also the media’s poster girl. HBO did a special on her. And there were glowing pieces by Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Weekly, NBC News, the New Yorker and others.
Then there are Hill’s commercials. They’re everywhere, including the Fox News Channel, the go-to network of many conservatives. Maybe that’s because she has the funds to pay for them. She has raised three times as much money as Knight in this election cycle.
If you didn’t know better, you’d think “Katie” was running as a Republican. She says in her commercials she wants to help veterans, small business owners and middle-class taxpayers. But these are Democrat talking points, all sleight of hand.
In fact, Knight, a veteran himself, is already helping veterans in impressively innovative ways. He initiated a pilot program, allowing vets to receive health care at walk-in urgent-care clinics if a VA clinic is overbooked.
He has actually helped taxpayers by supporting the Trump administration’s tax cut, saving middle-class families an average of $2,800 a year. And he has supported Trump administration policies, which have created 4 million jobs and resulted in the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years.
Following the lead of her mentor Nancy Pelosi, Hill has dismissed all of this as tax breaks for the rich. And she supports the 12-cent gas tax in California, saying that may not even be enough. Hill says she wants affordable health care for all, but doesn’t mention that she would do it through a single-payer health care system, run by a massive federal government bureaucracy, which would cost $32 trillion.
In fact, Hill has no clue about the real issues facing Santa Clarita. She recently admitted at a Signal-hosted debate that she had never heard of CEMEX until recently, after Knight had correctly described it as the “No. 1 priority” in the district.
Community and state leaders, including Sen. Diane Feinstein, have waged a 24-year-long, bipartisan battle against the sand-and-gravel mega-mine, proposed by the Mexico-based company. Knight has played a pivotal role in getting government permits for the mine cancelled, even though CEMEX is appealing the decision.
Hill should have been embarrassed by her unbelievable faux pas, but she wasn’t. She doubled down on her ignorance, implying CEMEX isn’t that important because her parents, friends and family hadn’t heard of it, either. In so doing, she inadvertently admitted she’s not involved in our community. She just lives here.
That’s a deal breaker, which is why The Signal has endorsed Knight. Now, Republicans and fair-minded independents need to do the same by voting for him. This is the most important mid-term election of our lives, which Democrats seem to get. They’ll be voting for “Katie” as if she were running against President Trump.
Dave Berg, author of “Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s View of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show,” co-produced the show for 18 years. He and his wife Mary have lived in Santa Clarita more than 30 years.