County Supervisor Bob Elliott, who had already kicked off his campaign to represent Tracy and the 5th District in the California State Senate, announced this week that he will instead run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Actually, the day after we put out that announcement, I was contacted by someone from the National Republican Congressional Committee. They were very encouraging about a run for Congress. So I didn’t commit to anything at the time but did think about it,” Elliott said in a phone interview Tuesday. “Frankly, that is something that I’ve always been interested in. I think my background has prepared me well for service at that level in terms of national issues.”
Elliott said he met with NRCC members again while on the San Joaquin Council of Governments’ One Voice lobbying trip to the nation’s capital and then spoke with former Rep. Jeff Denham to make sure he wasn’t planning to run before making a final decision.
“I think it’s important that we field a strong candidate in the 10th District who understands the valley and the issues that we have out here,” he said.
Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, was elected to represent the 10th District in November, narrowly beating Denham. Elliott said he’s worried that the first-term congressman is moving the wrong direction on a key issue.
“I think some of the policy ideas that are being pushed in Congress right now would just devastate our local economy. For example, the Green New Deal — just a push toward socialism,” Elliott said of the set of laws proposed in Congress that aim to address climate change and economic inequality. “Basically, it just removes the initiative and the ability for individuals to plan their own futures. It’s just counter to the principles that our country was built on.”
The NRCC has identified the 10th California Congressional District as a place it will focus its efforts to try to unseat Harder, who has raised about $900,000 for his reelection campaign in the first quarter of this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Elliott said the negative tenor of the 2018 election did concern him.
“Well, yes,” he said. “It is unfortunate that it seems that there’s been an increasing level of rancor in these campaigns. A lot more reliance on character assassination. Personally, I don’t like that. A campaign should focus, as much as possible, on the ideas that you have, the principles that you intend to work by, what you will do to benefit the people that you represent.”
Elliott said he will focus on the approaches to economic development that have worked in San Joaquin County, especially in Tracy.
“I really think that just the approach that we’ve taken here is something that will work and I certainly would be using the lessons learned here in San Joaquin County at the federal level. We’ve have tried to incentivize businesses to come here. We have an economic development incentive program now,” he said. “Things like trying to reduce regulations, trying to reduce and lower fees. All those things that create obstacles to business. If we try to make our entire orientation business friendly in terms of reducing those obstacles and making it more advantageous for businesses and small businesses, individuals in particular, to be able to prosper, I think that’s good for the overall economy.”
Elliott also said that if elected, he will espouse “regional self-sufficiency” when it comes to improving water infrastructure.
“We should look at policies that will allow us to have more water available in times of shortage of rainfall or snowmelt,” he said. “Building more storage, that’s something that we really need to do. At the same time, we need to look at ways of making more water available, like desalinization. That’s another way that you can create more water. We should look at increased use of recycled water.”
Elliott — a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, retired colonel with the Army and former Green Beret — said his time in the U.S Diplomatic Corps made him an ideal candidate to serve the interests of people here.
“I served twice there at our embassies in Tokyo, Japan, and later at our embassy in Seoul, Korea,” he said. “In that role, it was necessary to interact with people from many different countries, different backgrounds, different points of view, different languages, different religions. You had to interact and be effective with all of them. So I think that type of experience will serve me well in Washington, D.C.”
Elliott said his community and political relationships grew out of his ability to listen and interact with everyone.
“I’m willing to work with people of either party if it’s in the best interests of my constituents,” he said. “At the same time, if it looks like they’re trying to give us the short end of the stick, well, I won’t hesitate to stand up to them.”
Elliott, who lives in Tracy with his wife, said his guiding principles have never changed.
“The values I learned back in West Point — honor, country — I intend to take those with me to Washington, D.C.”
Elliott has not yet set up a website for his campaign but can be reached by email at email@example.com.