Editorials

Donald Trump’s drama isn’t a local issue. Don’t drag him into SLO County politics

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images/TNS)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images/TNS) TNS

Don’t go there, Democrats.

Don’t point the finger at local candidates running for county supervisor or mayor or school district trustee and demonize them as evil “Trumpers” because they belong to the Republican Party.

That’s relying on guilt-by-association to make a case.

It’s dividing our community and burning us out even more on presidential politics in general and Trump in particular.

It’s attempting to ride Trump’s coattails — in a negative way — into office.

Run on your own merits. Talk about local issues like affordable housing and homelessness and the closure of Diablo Canyon.

Trust us, there will be more than enough issues to cover in the upcoming local elections without dredging up Donald Trump.

Besides, litmus tests are scary. They lead to ridiculous assumptions.

Here’s an example: Members of the Sierra Club aren’t fit to serve on the grand jury. Yes, that accusation really was made — right here in San Luis Obispo County. Kevin P. Rice, a frequent government critic, made the accusation back in 2009, in a 15-page report he titled “Tainted Green.” He claimed “the voice of the grand jury is the voice of the Sierra Club.” Two of the jury’s 19 members belonged to the organization.

Ridiculous? You bet.

But saying that Republicans aren’t fit to serve on the Board of Supervisors or the City Council because they support Donald Trump isn’t much better.

And we aren’t buying the argument that Republicans who fail to denounce Trump must be in his corner.

Most Republican candidates we spoke with wouldn’t comment one way or the other — which says a lot more about Donald Trump than it does about them.

Think about it — can you remember another time when local officials were too embarrassed to publicly endorse a sitting president from their own political party?

So in case you’re wondering, yes, the Trump card already has been played.

Stacy Korsgaden, who is running for 3rd District supervisor, has been labeled a “Trump Republican” by her opponent, incumbent Supervisor Adam Hill.

Korsgaden declined to tell us whether she favors Trump’s re-election.

“I am not going to participate in an issue, Donald Trump, that has nothing to do with the many issues of District 3. This has to end somewhere, and I can only control me and how I chose to conduct my personal and public life. My focus will be on the county of San Luis Obispo and its awesome opportunities and challenges that I hope to contribute solutions,” Korsgaden said via email.

Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who is up for re-election, also declined to say whether he’s in Trump’s camp.

“The voters will have an opportunity to express their opinion of the president and his policies 12 months from now in the next election. The Assembly member trusts that the voters can make up their own minds without his input,” campaign spokesman Nick Mirman said in an email.

Supervisor Debbie Arnold told us she does support the president; John Peschong — who is a partner in a political consulting firm that works for conservative candidates and causes — did not respond to our questions about Trump.

And really, can you blame local Republicans for their silence?

They don’t want to take the heat for the president’s pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens, withdrawing troops from Syria or withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement.

And they shouldn’t have to; as far as we know, they had absolutely nothing to do with those decisions.

Look, it’s one thing to hold Rep. Devin Nunes or Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accountable for their unquestioning support of Trump’s policies. But picking on a mayor of Pismo Beach or a supervisor from the North County goes too far. Local politicians are responsible for decisions made here in San Luis Obispo County — not in Washington, D.C.

One more thing: Democrats are preaching to the choir when they come out swinging against local Republican candidates on account of Trump.

That may play well with liberals — who are unlikely to vote for Republican candidates anyway — but it may not impress moderates who are on the fence. And it definitely won’t win over conservative Trump supporters in this purple county.

By the way, this advice goes both ways.

Republicans, resist the impulse to label local Democratic candidates socialists ... even if they support Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

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