Long shot in crowded 49th primary betting on Trump card
Two weeks ago, I tossed out a betting line on the realistic contenders for Rep. Darrell Issa’s well-worn seat.
Seven candidates in the 49th Congressional District, four Democrats and three Republicans, made my early cut.
Today, I’m adding an OC Republican to the field of conceivable double-digit finishers in the June “jungle primary.”
On my updated tip sheet, Brian Maryott, a first-term San Juan Capistrano councilman, has a puncher’s chance, a 20 percent likelihood of winning a ticket to the general election in November.
Maryott, I’ve learned, has a clear-eyed strategy to shine in a primary where the two top performers of any (or no) party advance.
Maryott, 55, recently retired from an evidently lucrative career as a financial planner. When Issa threw in the towel, Maryott’s second career opened up in front of him.The twist of Maryott’s longshot candidacy is that President Trump, a damning association for Issa, is the trump card Maryott hopes to play against the circumspect Republican candidates -- Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey and Supervisor Kristin Gaspar.
For obvious reasons, GOP candidates in swing districts keep a wary distance from the president.
Maryott, on the other hand, pumps up Trump without apology.
“I don’t intend to be bashful about our president,” Maryott told me.
To win or place in June, Maryott is looking to appeal to Trump loyalists as well as nervous conservatives who “want to like Trump and want to get comfortable. They’re struggling to feel good about him.”
Maryott’s goal is to put these voters from Dana Point to Del Mar into the Trumpian comfort zone as they enter the polling station.
Maryott, a married father of three, concedes Trump’s crass edges. (“Not my cup of tea,” he says.) But the picture that matters, he says, is the big one, not what you see in the media.
“I’ve never seen a president have to battle daily with the propaganda-driven press,” he says.
That Foxy analysis is sure to elicit groans among Democrats and independents, but Maryott is grilling red meat, not processed messages for the mass of voters.
“There will be seven more years for President Trump,” Maryott predicts. “I don’t think he’ll be impeached. I believe we’ll continue to see good results,” both economically and in foreign relations.
As for mother’s milk, Maryott has invested $300,000 to jump-start his campaign. He has two offices, one in San Juan Cap, the other in Carlsbad. Radio ads have run on KOGO and KFMB; TV spots on -- where else? -- Fox stations. He tells me he’s prepared to spend 300 grand in addition to individual contributions. Other candidates will burn through more, but Maryott, who got his political feet wet in the Massachusetts Legislature as a young man, promises he won’t be outworked on the stump.
I contacted the campaigns of the three GOP favorites -- Chavez, Harkey and Gaspar -- and asked them to summarize their views of Trump.
Chavez relayed that he would support the president when he agreed with him, oppose him when he didn’t. Harkey’s campaign spokesman dodged, saying the candidate would focus on her constituents, not the president. Gaspar did not respond to requests for comment on the ticklish subject.
No surprise there. California is at war with the Trump administration over sanctuary, the wall, tax reform, the census, climate change.
To careful Republicans, aligning with Trump, especially as he faces multiple legal assaults and the possibility of impeachment (or worse), poses long-term risks.
To Maryott, that’s the risk he relishes, the daring that sets him apart.
Of course, if he were to make the general election, Maryott would have to pivot to the center where, as it happens, he’s staked out some ground.
He says, for example, that he favors an improved private health-care system alongside a government-run single-payer system.
For the next two months, however, Maryott’s big-picture message is that, thanks to the president, America, and by extension California, is getting really great again.
He’s riding Trump’s flaming coattails as far as they’ll take him.