Black Republicans in California applaud the February 8 election of Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) as the new Minority Leader of the 19-member Assembly Republican Caucus.
Gallagher, 40, succeeds Marie Waldron (R-Valley Center), who led the 2018 caucus until last week.
“James has always been a measured leader. He is a good man. I know him and his family. He’s the perfect man for the job,” said Tamika Hamilton, a black Republican, Air Force veteran and candidate to represent California’s Sixth Congressional District (in the San Diego area) in the House of Commons. United States representatives.
Hamilton praised Gallagher for his “common sense” approach to politics, adding that lawmakers believe in reaching consensus around important issues.
“He is always ready to work with the other side. If the Democrats have a good idea and it works for the people, he will accept it,” Hamilton said. “I believe his vision of California is inclusive of everyone – not just for the party.”
In an interview with California Black Media on Feb. 11, Gallagher said his number one goal is to improve the quality of life for Californians. In his eight years of service in the Legislative Assembly, Gallagher says he always found common ground with Democrats.
“There are a lot of places where we just don’t hit the mark. One of them is affordability. Costs keep going up. It’s harder to afford a home. More “It’s hard to pay rent. Our utility bills are going up. And a lot of that is due to politics,” Gallagher said.
“We have convoluted programs for affordable housing and the bottom line is: we’re not building enough.”
Gallagher also criticized Governor Newsom and Democratic leaders in both houses of the Legislative Assembly, pointing to climate programs resulting in onerous costs for businesses and customers; rising crime rates in some parts of the state; and billions spent to solve homelessness.
“But we haven’t seen a lot of results,” he said. “We want to focus on better solutions that we believe will enable people to have better lives. Some solutions are bipartisan.
Prior to his election to the Assembly, Gallagher, a lawyer and rice farmer, served on the Sutter County Board of Supervisors from 2008 to 2014. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley and his JD from UC Davis.
Gallagher is married and has five children.
In the California Assembly, Democrats hold a super majority of 60 seats over Republicans, who have just 19 seats. There is an Independent.
Among registered black voters, about 73% are Democrats while about 5% are Republicans. About 20% of African-American voters are independent.
There are no black Republicans serving as state legislators or among California delegations to the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Hamilton says as Gallagher settles into his new role, he should acknowledge that the state’s GOP leadership hasn’t done a good job of engaging black Californians.
“The party has made some major missteps when it comes to the black community,” admits Hamilton. “We have to do a better job. But what did we take away from the Democrats other than performance and acting? They make us think they are doing the right thing. Gavin Newsom does it beautifully. But where is the action behind all this? They controlled this state for decades with no change in sight.
Hamilton says Democrats can’t keep bragging that California is the nation’s biggest economy when the middle class is “broken and struggling.”
The morning after he took office, Gallagher went into action, pushing legislation to end California’s state of emergency.
“Average Californians are scratching their heads. Why are we still under a state of emergency? he says. “We have been in a permanent state of emergency for just under two years. Here’s the problem: During a state of emergency, the legislature has less power, and the governor essentially has the power to issue rules and decrees as he sees fit. These are rules that are established for everyone without any public intervention. »
Micah Grant, a black Republican and trustee of the Natomas Unified School District Board, says Gallagher is a guy “whose feet have touched the ground.”
Grant, who is also chairman of the board of directors of California Black Media, said that after the George Floyd riots, when tempers were running high and racial tensions were high, Gallagher joined in a community discussion lively in Sacramento with people of different races and backgrounds. He joined in the conversation and took a lot of heat from the audience, but he left people in the room feeling that someone in the state government had listened to their concerns and was ready to address them.
“James is a strong advocate for education reform – the kind of reforms that will help black children in California succeed. This is the kind of leadership we need,” Grant said.