By Tom Elias
(One in an ongoing series of interviews with significant candidates for governor of California.)
Travis Allen chortles as he boasts that “We took back America in 2016,” then adds the bold and seemingly unlikely prediction that “We’ll take back California this year.”
Allen believes President Trump is making America great again, just as his campaign slogan promised, and he pledges to “make California the nation’s greatest state again, too.”
His plan for doing this starts with a planned social and traditional media campaign “including 13 million pieces of mail” during May, a month when many voters will already have primary election ballots in their hands. Even though fellow Republican John Cox, a businessman who moved from Illinois to San Diego County in 2011, has run ahead of him in several polls this spring, Allen happily notes that “It’s within the margin of error and he’s spent millions of dollars more.”
He firmly believes “there is a silent majority” that will back any Republican who makes it into the November runoff election, where he expects Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom as the other contestant.
“This is a race I will win,” Allen declared in an interview. “We Californians have been pushed too far by California Democrats. They’ve gone too far with the gasoline tax increase, their sanctuary state law and all their other crazy laws.”
Allen, a three-term assemblyman and dedicated surfer from Huntington Beach seeking to become the first person to move directly from the Assembly to the governor’s office, has a five-point plan for actions to begin the moment he takes office.
His first priority, he says, will be to cut taxes, starting with the gasoline tax increase. Central to his campaign is a repeal initiative likely to reach voters in November. Next, he says, he will “make California safe again by getting tough on crime.” He wants to reverse three recent measures some call soft on crime, including the prison realignment plan begun in 2011 that has seen thousands of state prisoners sent back to their home counties for either parole or time in local jails. Allen would also try to reverse the Proposition 47 and Proposition 57 changes in crime classifications which made misdemeanors out of many former felonies.
He pledges to fix the state’s roads and expand freeways without raising taxes or cutting important programs, though he has some trouble specifying how he’d do that. Again, he says the first step is rolling back the 12-cent gasoline tax increase in effect since last year.
Allen also promises to “fix our broken education system. We used to have the best public schools in America, and (current Gov.) Jerry Brown’s funding increases for them are not working. Parents must be given the right to send their kids to the very best public schools and charter schools. And we need to test kids early and often to see how we’re doing. No longer will every child get a trophy just for participating.”
Allen’s other top priority, he says, would be to “complete the state Water Project by building more water storage up and down the state.” He complains that “Brown’s water board is holding up bond money that’s already approved. When I’m governor, every Californian will have a green lawn and take long showers.”
A lower priority, but still vital, he says, will be solving homelessness, an extremely touchy subject in his Orange County district. “The policies of California Democrats have led to the explosion of homelessness where we have people sleeping under bridges and on sidewalks at an alarming rate.”
But he says the problem won’t be solved by anything like SB 827, a current proposal from Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco to mandate dense housing near transit stations. “Californians want the ability to own a single-family home and there’s plenty of open space in the state to provide that,” Allen insists.
To win, he says, all he must do is get on the November ballot and then draw the same 4.4 million state voters who backed President Trump in 2016. Trouble is, this doesn’t account for the 8.7 million who went for Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Allen has a very steep task, but he’s undaunted so far. “I’ll win,” he insists.