He’s the anti-war, gay-friendly congressional candidate from San Francisco who recently held a rally with former Green Party city supervisor Matt Gonzalez.
And he’s the Republican.
Meet John Dennis, a 46-year-old entrepreneur who hopes to be the David to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Goliath come November. Dennis knows that any member of the GOP faces long odds in California’s 8th district, which is why he invited Gonzalez and Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul to co-host an event called “Principles over Parties” earlier this month. The trio emphasized a message of looking beyond political labels and identifying the results voters get from the representatives they elect. By associating with Paul, Dennis hopes San Franciscans will recognize how serious he is about bringing American troops home from battles overseas.
“I started working for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign back in 2007,” Dennis told The Daily Caller in a phone interview. “There was a moment, a specific moment in the South Carolina debate, when Paul had a head-to-head conflict with Rudy Giuliani about the war on terror. That’s what got me more interested in politics, and that’s why I’m running today.”
The “specific moment” in question happened when Paul was asked about his opinion that the war in Iraq was a mistake, a view shared by a strong majority of the citizens of San Francisco. Paul explained his belief that U.S. intervention around the world causes “blowback” in the form of violence against Americans. After Paul argued that even Osama bin Laden had said the 9/11 attacks were retaliation for previous American actions in the Middle East, Giuliani insisted that the comments be withdrawn, calling them “absurd.” The exchange has received hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
Dennis agreed with Paul, and thinks he can use that part of his platform to capitalize on the anti-incumbent sentiment that’s become the story of this election year. He calls Afghanistan “Nancy Pelosi’s War” on his website, where he wrote that the Speaker stopped asking why tens of thousands of American troops needed to remain in the country once Democrats gained control of the House. On Iraq, Dennis argued that leaving thousands of non-combat troops behind is inherently dangerous. “What happens if a civil war breaks out?” he asked. “Are we going to be drawn back in?”
War isn’t the only area where Dennis hopes to connect with the established patterns of San Francisco voters. He voted against Proposition 8, and said he wants the government to “get out of the marriage business altogether.” His campaign has even included a pub crawl through the Castro District, famous for its gay bars. Dennis said that locals were initially “shocked” to see a Republican looking for support in the area, but also that they warmed up to him after he explained his positions.
Big government is what causes Dennis’ Republican feathers to ruffle, and he’s hoping that recent events will help his cause. He told TheDC that he believed the housing bubble, which has hit California harder than most states, was the creation of government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “What we have to realize is that government overstimulated the housing market,” he said. “We have an overhang of inventory there, and it’s weighing down on the economy like an anvil.”
NEXT: Dennis talks government spending and the Fed
Dennis also stressed his desire to cut back government spending. “If you add up total defense spending and total entitlement spending, we already run a deficit without taking into account anything else the government does,” he noted. “I want to be clear that I’d aim to wind down spending programs as responsibly as possible, but we absolutely have to make cuts.”
Emulating Paul, Dennis includes the Federal Reserve on the list of Washington institutions that he wants to examine. He supports auditing the Fed, and is pleased with the increased focus on America’s central bank in the wake of the financial crisis. His site features numerous pages on monetary issues such as inflation.
“I think people are starting to realize that the Fed has so much power, but doesn’t really answer to anyone,” said Dennis. “This country is addicted to credit. The Fed is destroying the engine of wealth creation by discouraging production and savings.”
Dennis hopes that Pelosi’s constituents aren’t quite as addicted to the credit they give to party affiliation.