There’s a Republican running against 13-term Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, who sits in a California district that is loaded with Democratic donors, plus huge numbers of Democratic-leaning Asian, Hispanic, Jewish and Middle-Eastern immigrants.
President Barack Obama got 70 percent of their votes in 2008.
But the Republican could win, maybe, somehow.
That’s because he’s Pablo Kleinman, an Argentine-born immigrant Jewish Hispanic, with an entrepreneurial career in the Internet sector, in publishing and on Spanish-language radio, who is promoting school choice, championing Israel and advocating generous immigration rules.
“The Californian GOP has huge problems — it is largely an irrelevance outside San Diego and Orange County,” said Christopher Whiton, a California-based GOP supporter, and a former GOP appointee to the federal State Department.
But Kleinman “is a compelling guy who is new to politics, and has a very interesting personal story,” and can be carried to victory if the election becomes a national wave against President Barack Obama, Whiton said.
California requires political parties to run open primaries, so the two top vote-getters in the June 3 primary will race against each other in the November election, regardless of their party affiliations.
In this primary, Berman is running against a left-wing environmentalist, a Democrat, and two Republicans, including the personally diverse Kleinman.
Kleinman is running on some the usual GOP issues.
He wants less federal regulation, and a rewrite of Obamacare to boost the free market, while also preserving mandated benefits, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The voters aren’t very concerned about crime, or taxes, he said. That’s because their taxes are usually extracted before they get their pay stubs, Kleinman told TheDC. Nationally, the GOP’s advantages on taxes has dropped sharply since 2000.
So he’s also offering the voters a mixture of niche-marketing empathy, targeted policies and distance from the national GOP brand.
Many voters, especially Asians and Hispanics, are interested in getting their kids into better schools, Kleinman said. “It’s an issue that’s incredibly popular among Hispanics and among immigrants,” he said.
The issue is prominent in the 30th district, because local Hispanics are mostly middle-class, “where a lot of people move to once their businesses are doing better or they get better jobs,” Kleinman said.
“My opponent doesn’t speak Spanish, and I do, and I will be campaigning in Spanish.” Roughly 20 percent of the district’s electorate is Hispanic, said Kleinman.
Kleinman is also reaching out to the roughly 20 percent of the district voters who are Jews, including immigrant Russian, Israeli and Iranian Jews, he told TheDC.
Some of the Jewish voters are angry at Sherman because of the bitter 2012 fight against Howard Berman, another multi-term liberal Jewish Democrat. Many voters “supported Howard Berman quite strongly … [and] a lot of them are not going to vote for Sherman,” Kleinman said, who is a strong supporter of Israel.
Many of the district’s Jews are from Iran, where 2010 pro-democracy marches were ignored by Obama, Kleinman said. “He didn’t lift a finger … and we missed a huge opportunity,” he said. Iranian Jews are also receptive to his pitch, because they’re worried about Obama’s desperate effort to win a nuclear deal with Iran, he said.