Final Statement regarding 2016
I want to thank you for all your help and support during the last 12 months while I was first a candidate then the Republican nominee for the United States House of Representatives for California’s 26th Congressional District. I would like to take the opportunity to convey my final thoughts about the campaign, offer some advice to the Republican Party, and to those who supported me.
After reflecting on what I experienced and learned, it would be selfish to keep the truth from those who supported this campaign. I begin by hoping that the Republican Party will not give up on California. That, however, requires the leadership to rethink its model. I want the Party to come back and fight again in the land once called Reagan Country. Ignoring California will only allow it’s Leftist Progressive movements to go unchecked and expand throughout the country.
I want to express my heart felt appreciation to my wife Natalie who was very committed throughout the campaign. She was a trooper on the street passing out information and speaking to anyone who would speak with her about me. She was not that shy 26-year-old youngster that I met while two stepping at a country western dance club 22 years ago.
I want to thank the volunteers who helped throughout the campaign. You know who you are and I will never forget you!
I want to also thank the 500 plus donors and those who hosted fundraisers and meet and greets, who invested in our positive message for real change. You helped me carry the torch to help bring light to the truth. I am deeply sorry I was not able to take that torch to victory. However, that torch is still lit and much work needs to be done.
As for me, despite all the negatives I have learned, I am still a believer. I still believe that the founders of this great nation had external guidance to create the single most amazing experiment in history, The United States of America. Imagine a world without America? I cannot.
We may not be a perfect nation, but we are an exceptional nation. Where else can an immigrant kid who fled the oppression of communism, who grew up in the inner city surrounded by gangs, drugs and generational poverty, and then decades later becomes the nominee of the Republican Party in his district to represent all Americans in the halls of Congress? My life’s story, in part, is what motivated me to jump into this Congressional race. My unique background allows me to fight within the progressive/leftist lie and expose them.
The Democratic Party of today is guilty of taking minority and poor neighborhoods for granted and often indoctrinating them into believing that the Republican Party and America are unfair and against them. This trash is being fed to them in schools, on the streets, in political marketing, and through special interest groups who have community organizers promoting division and anger. But this is the furthest from the truth. The lack of opportunity, substandard educational system, the creation of systems for immigrants to avoid assimilation, the high crime, the ever-increasing cost of living, and the inability to seek out employment, allows for the perfect environment to continue what I call the Grand Lie (La Grand Mintira).
Today, as I write, our once great state of California now leads the nation in poverty, is among the worst in education, continues to push job creators and good middle-class jobs out of the state, and has had an increase of homelessness of 53% in the last two years alone in Southern California. This is both sad and horrible. In Ventura County alone, jobs continue to leave. We were ranked the third lowest growth county in the state of California with an approximate 1% growth this last year. The county also has crime spiking.
California is quickly becoming a state of primarily two classes of people -- the rich and the poor because the middle class continues to shrink or leave.
You would logically believe that with all these facts; voters would reject those who have participated for years in creating this environment. However, the power of money and the ability to feed voters with half-truths and outright lies does work. Unless you have the financial resources to counter and pushing back on the lies, your message will not be heard by all. I made my best attempt to counter the attacks and misinformation. We knew we had the truth on our side but the lack of funds and external support to expand our positive message proved to be too difficult.
My opponent, Congresswoman Julia Brownley, marketed herself as an advocate for veterans, a champion for students since her days in Sacramento, and gave herself credit for bringing jobs to Ventura. She also said she was an advocate for the minority communities.
All these were the furthest from the truth and this is why she was a no show to four debates. She did not appear at the National Security and Veterans Issues Candidate Forum hosted by the largest veterans’ advocacy group in the country, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The VFW and my office continued to contact her to reschedule but she ignored the requests. She was a no show at both a NAACP sponsored debate and one hosted by the Clergy Council of Oxnard which focused on major local issues including crime, poverty, homelessness, immigration, and jobs.
I was present and willing to tackle these issues with facts, fervor, and honesty. She played a political move and avoided being exposed. She also avoided ever talking about her support for the Iran deal and Obamacare. We made multiple attempts to get this information to the public through press releases but were unsuccessful. The media's absence and even refusal to cover the campaign and not publish our press releases no doubt played a roll in getting the truth out to the voters.
One week prior to the election, there was movement with exposing the truth. A local community paper in eastern Ventura County, the Acorn, contacted me and asked my opinion regarding the National Guard Bonus issue. I took that opportunity to educate the reporter on several issues regarding my opponent’s claim of being a champion for veterans. I expressed that no one in their right mind would vote against HR 1994, The V.A. Accountability Act, as she did while calling herself an advocate for veterans. She sided with protecting the bureaucrats and employees at the V.A. instead of protecting our veterans. As to the National Guard bonus, she made public statements about being shocked with news about the bonus issue. This was an outright lie. She had known about it for over two years as the LA Times confirmed. The reporter tried to contact her but she refused to respond.
See link to the Acorn story.
After this story surfaced, I made a final request to the largest newspaper in the region, the Ventura County Star, owned USA today, to expose the truth but I was not successful. I asked the editor to verify these issues and consider writing a story about it, including her accusations of me of being a racist, anti-Hispanic, and of other deplorable lies. The editor’s response was “This being the Friday afternoon prior to the Tuesday election we do not plan any additional coverage of the 26th Congressional District campaign”. Mind you, they never covered the campaign in a balanced manner or ever published any of our press releases. The paper did not even cover the VFW’s no show that should have made front page.
In conclusion, the failure of this campaign is mine and mine alone.
This final statement was also intended for the next candidate to understand what challenges they may face. I ask you and those in the Party in both Sacramento and Washington D.C. to reconsider the model that has not been working in California for decades. The self-preservation model of trying to protect or save seats instead of going into the heart of the problem and engaging those who we typically don’t talk to has to be a priority. If not the progressive cancer spreads. We must run both unconventional and conventional methods of campaigning. I know for a fact that my unconventional methods of in-reach works; I was the first Republican ever to be endorsed by a Hispanic newspaper in this region. The editor of “El Latino” despite being a Democrat wrote about the truth and took heat for it. This happen after days of discussions about the facts on the ground and the exploitation of minority communities by the left and his observations on what our campaign was doing inside those communities.
We need to fight the so called Progressive Leftist Movement within the Democrat Party. There is nothing progressive about keeping people poor, less-educated, homeless, and on a lifetime of welfare. There is nothing progressive about denying someone the opportunity to lift themselves from the shackles of economic slavery. There is nothing progressive about reducing the middle class! We need to expose the truth and fight to engage those who do not know what we stand for. Let us be the party of Lincoln and Reagan.
We must make every attempt to stop the bleeding in California; we must stop the insanity of so many Americans who now think that a socialist system of government would be a better system. I personally know socialism does not work, Democracy, our Republic and Freedom does!
God bless you all and may he continue to bless our great country!
Rafael A. Dagnesses
CA 26th Congressional District-2016 Elections