SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen has a message for California Democrats: Bring it on.
“We’re going to take back California,” said the state assemblyman from Huntington Beach at a University of San Francisco forum Tuesday evening, where he slammed high taxes, sanctuary cities, and other Democratic policies he blamed for ruining California.
“This state has been heading in the wrong direction for some time. And I realized I could not stop this in the California legislature,” Allen said, who was elected to the Assembly in 2012. “The problem is that this state has been run by one political party for the last 39 years, and it has driven the state into the ground.”
Allen touted a five-point plan for fixing the state, starting with cutting taxes and repealing a gas tax passed by the Legislature last year and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
“Jerry Brown lied to California when he said no new taxes without voter approval,” Allen said. “This gas tax was implemented without any input on the part of ordinary Californians. On day one we repeal the gas tax, then we go after all the other taxes in California. When we cut tax in California we send a very simple message that California is once again open for business. This will result in massive amounts of new jobs being created in California.”
Allen said then it’s on to fixing the roads, getting tough on crime, overhauling education and shoring up the state’s water storage.
“For too long California has been told by Governor Brown and the Democrats that we don’t have enough. California has more than enough. We are a natural resource-rich state. We simply need a governor that will finally allow Californians to use our own rich natural resources,” Allen said.
With a six-year stint in the Legislature under his belt, Allen is a relative newcomer to the California political scene.
Born in Huntington Beach in 1973, Allen earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Cal State Long Beach. Prior to entering politics, he worked as a financial planner. At Tuesday’s forum, the self-described “Southern California surfer” told moderator and Politico journalist Carla Marinucci that he’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for riding the world’s biggest surfboard with the most people on it.
He was a dark horse candidate when he won his seat in the Assembly, beating out Republican establishment incumbent Troy Edgar by 11 percent, even though Edgar outspent him by nearly $200,000.
At the moment, Allen trails the top Democratic candidates for governor. A Public Policy Institute of California poll put him at 10 percent last week, behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa. He also lags behind businessman John Cox, the other Republican candidate.
But he still has his fair share of supporters, and dozens of them filled the McLaren Conference Center at USF to hear him expound on topics like immigration, his comments on which drew resounding applause.
Marinucci asked him what he thought of Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s lawsuit against the federal government over its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census.
“Becerra’s lawsuit is absolute nonsense,” he said. “California has the right to know exactly how many citizens are living in our state. Census information provides the basis for all sorts of political division in our country—the number of Congress seats, Electoral College votes, the resources that California gets. The fundamental question such as, ‘Are you a citizen?’ should absolutely be part of the census. It is our right to put California citizens first. It is absolutely our country’s right to put American citizens first.”
Allen said he would try to reverse California’s sanctuary state policy, which forbids local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I will call a special election so the people of California can vote out this illegal, dangerous and unconstitutional law,” he said.
Parts of the state are already in revolt. The Orange County suburb of Los Alamitos recently voted to defy the law, and Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens decided to make public inmate release dates— including those for people in the country illegally.
“These are phenomenal developments,” Allen said. “These are huge steps to ensure that the rule of law is followed in California. California taxpayers shouldn’t be sheltering people who are here illegally and committing crimes.”
Allen called the argument that sanctuary policies promote public safety “an absolute lie,” and called it a direct violation of superseding federal immigration law. As for Libby Schaaf, the Democrat mayor of Oakland who tipped off the public about impending ICE actions, Allen said she should be criminally prosecuted.
“If there is only one criminal roaming the streets because of Libby Schaaf’s actions, that is one criminal too many,” he said.
He accused Democrats of refusing to do anything about illegal immigration because they want to keep it as a perennial election issue. He said he supports President Donald Trump’s border wall, saying, “It is our right as a sovereign nation to secure our borders.”
The most staunch Trump supporter of the candidates, he also praised the president’s recent $1.5 trillion tax overhaul.
“Because of this tax cut and the tax reforms that Trump initiated, Apple is bringing back $350 billion to the United States; creating over 30,000 jobs, Home Depot is giving its employees thousand dollar raises,” he said. “As the next governor of California, I want to see the benefits of this tax reform come to California.”
Allen’s appearance was part of a series of talks by gubernatorial candidates sponsored by Politico and the University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.