SAN FRANCISCO—Two California Republican candidates for the 2018 midterm elections have been reaching out to their supporters in a very unconventional way: Instead of running for office, they have been “riding” for office, on a bike tour.
Mark Meuser for secretary of state and Konstantinos Roditis for state controller have campaigned on their mountain bikes. Meuser started the tour by himself from Martinez County on July 9, and Roditis joined him on Aug. 1.
The tour covers close to 100 cities in all 58 counties in California. By the time the campaign bike tour finishes in Orange County on Aug. 24, the total distance traveled by Meuser may be close to 5,000 miles.
The bike tour campaigns have in many ways been different from ordinary campaigns: instead of wearing shiny shoes, and dressing in suits and ties, they wear helmets and cleats, and dress in cycling suits. Instead of going to town hall meetings, they make stops at parks and on streets, and lead public rallies with their bikes parked right next to them.
The two biking election hopefuls have been trying hard to make their unconventional campaign style work.
Roditis, when asked for his business card, pulled out a small plastic sandwich bag from his sweaty cycling suit. In the bag were a couple dozen cards, of which some were his own and some from others.
Cleaning Voter Rolls
“We need to reinstate the integrity in our elections by more audits and more investigations,” Meuser said at a rally in front of San Francisco City Hall on Aug. 13.
“California has the second worst election [integrity] in the entire nation,” he said, referring to the results of a study by the Pew Research Center.
“People are waking up when they hear Los Angeles County has 144 percent voter registration.”
Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against California in December 2017 when it was revealed that 11 of 58 counties in the state have voter registration rates exceeding 100 percent of the age-eligible citizenry, based on Judicial Watch’s investigation.
Attendees at the rally expressed shock on learning that election integrity in the United States ranked at the bottom among that of countries across the Western world. Some also expressed surprise when they learned that their state was the second worst in the nation.
Jason Clark, who attended the rally in support of Meuser, said, “It is very important that we have somebody who is committed to maintaining and safeguarding our voting system.”
Howard Epstein, a Republican activist at the rally, shared his personal story of voter fraud: “My dad died in 1995. In the following four or five elections, we were getting his absentee ballots, kept coming. We wrote letters saying: ‘Hi, he died.’ But it just kept coming. … I think there are lots of that going around.”
The messages from Meuser seemed to be clearly heard by the people in the rally.
In California’s “jungle” primary system, all the candidates compete against one another regardless of party affiliation. Meuser received 30.97 percent of the votes in this year’s primary election, coming in second behind incumbent Democrat Alex Padilla, who received 52.57 percent. As the top two in the primary, Meuser and Padilla will face off in November general election.
Stopping High-Speed Rail
“On Day one as the controller, I am going to go in there and I am going to stop payments on the High-Speed Rail [project],” Roditis said.
In the 2008 state elections, California voters approved Proposition 1A, the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.
It authorized the state to allocate $9.95 billion to build the High-Speed Rail system, but required federal matching funds. With total estimated costs of $40 billion in 2008, the remaining balance, in addition to state and federal funding, was expected to be raised from private investments.
After Prop. 1A was approved, the state High-Speed Rail Authority issued a new cost estimate with revised total costs between $98.5 billion and $118 billion. In its early stages, the project received some federal funding through Obama’s 2009 Recovery Act, but Congress later withdrew future funding for the project. However, construction has been in progress since 2015.
By stopping the high-speed rail construction, “literally on day one I will be able to save California taxpayers 100 billion dollars,” Roditis said.
Roditis emphasized that his business experience would help to save money for working-class Californians. “If the controller and government are doing things wrong, it affects taxpayers because their mistakes are paid by the taxpayers,” he said.
Roditis received 33.88 percent of the votes in this year’s primary election, trailing incumbent Democrat Betty Yee, who received 62.09 percent. Roditis and Yee will face each other again in the November general election.