Jordan Cunningham deserves a second term in the Assembly — but he should drop the slimy ads

During his first year in office, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham showed he’s not afraid to cross the aisle — and that’s no small feat in a state where Republican politicians have been skewered for voting with the other side.

Specifically, Cunningham was one of eight Republicans to vote for an extension of the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More recently, he opposed the Trump Administration’s attempt to prevent California from imposing its own fuel efficiency standards on vehicles.

Like former state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, Cunningham is establishing himself as a moderate on some issues.

On others, not so much.

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For example, he voted against the bill to eliminate cash bail in criminal cases; he voted against the SB1 gas tax, which is now subject to voter repeal; and he opposed the bill raising the bar for the state’s clean energy goal to 100 percent carbon-free by 2045.

He told Capital Public Radio that he accepts science and believes climate change needs to be addressed. “But other things have to be addressed too, including economics.”

While we disagree with Cunningham on some key issues — SB1, for example — it’s extremely important to have dissenting voices in Sacramento. Otherwise, all we have is an echo chamber.

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Other pluses: Cunningham has been extremely responsive to constituents of his 35th District, which includes all of San Luis Obispo County plus northern Santa Barbara County:

  • He joined state Sen. Bill Monning in pushing through legislation to provide San Luis Obispo County with $85 million in economic aid to help it recover from the upcoming closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

  • He worked for the repeal of the hated fire fee imposed on homeowners in rural areas.

  • After an Uber driver was accused of sexually assaulting four local students — three from Cal Poly and one from Cuesta — Cunningham sponsored a bill to strengthens background checks for drivers of ride-sharing services, which was signed into law in September.

All and all, Cunningham has proven himself to be an effective leader and a strong and reasonable voice for conservatives, and based on his performance, he deserves a second term.

That being said, we have been disappointed with his campaign.

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With his standing as a successful incumbent, Cunningham doesn’t need to go negative, yet he’s resorting to shabby, sleazy ads that attack his opponent, Democrat Bill Ostrander, accusing him of filing for bankruptcy, being late on tax payments and failing to pay child support.

Ostrander denies the allegations, though Cunningham’s staff has offered legal documents to verify the claims.

The attacks are unnecessary; Cunningham has a strong record that speaks for itself, and his negative tactics could very well lose him some support.

A few words about Ostrander: He has built a strong reputation as a crusader for campaign finance reform, and that’s admirable. But we have the same concern we raised two years ago, when Ostrander ran for the congressional seat now held by Democrat Salud Carbajal.

“We found Ostrander to be well-informed and articulate on all issues,” we said then. “A congressional seat is a reach, though. We urge Ostrander to consider running for an office closer to home.”

We stand by that advice and would like to see him play a role in city or county government; Ostrander is intelligent and highly principled, but voters need to see more of him on the local stage.

The Tribune Editorial Board endorses Jordan Cunningham for a second term in the state Assembly.

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