Fresno, CA— Last week, supposed “Democrat” Adam Gray released his first TV & mail ads in the CA-13 primary, prominently featuring three Republican Central Valley sheriffs. Under the guise of being “tough on crime,” Gray rolls out the endorsement of the three law enforcement officers who have a pro-Trump, anti-immigrant record.
The TV ad features all three sheriffs talking direct to camera, citing Gray’s record on crime as a key reason for support. A mail piece sent out by the campaign echoes this message and includes the endorsements of other law enforcement groups – directly contrasting them with SEIU California, an organization with a proven track record of fighting for the rights of immigrants and the working class, who have supported Gray’s opponent, Phil Arballo.
These ads serve as a blatant insult to Democratic voters and their allies and emphasize Gray’s disconnect from the party’s base. With California’s immigrant communities still recovering from racist and terror-inducing policies implemented by the Trump administration, these officials and organizations have continued to act in bad faith.
- All three of these sheriffs have continued to cooperate with I.C.E. even after California passed sanctuary laws to protect undocumented residents so they do not need to live in fear of interacting with law enforcement. They have both implicitly and explicitly expressed their support for Donald Trump, whose dangerous rhetoric we are still dealing with the fallout from today. And during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, all three acted out against state policies enacted to keep our communities safe.
- Adam Gray himself even voted against SB54 which was enacted to help protect our undocumented community members from living in fear of law enforcement
Here are just a few of the questionable actions that the sheriffs have committed, yet Gray is still proud to have their support:
Margaret Mims – Fresno County Sheriff
- Believes that sanctuary laws (like SB54) are a disgrace, and campaigned against their passage
- Met with Donald Trump to decry California’s sanctuary laws that help support our undocumented neighbors
- Flew to the United States/Mexico border to help amplify Trump’s harmful, anti-immigrant rhetoric
- Refused to enforce mask mandates during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic
Vernon Warnke – Merced County Sheriff
- Warnke and the Merced County Sheriff’s Posse marched in Donald Trump’s inauguration parade
- Warnke refused to enforce COVID-19 violations during the peak of the pandemic
Jeff Dirkse – Stanislaus County Sheriff
- Sheriff Dirkse continued to cooperate with I.C.E. even after the passage of SB54 – handing over at least 84 individuals to be deported
Sheriffs Mims & Dirkse were named in an A.C.L.U. report earlier this year detailing how Central Valley sheriffs are purposefully testing the limits on their interaction with I.C.E. to help deliver more immigrants for deportation to the federal agency. Since the passage of SB54, over 1000 undocumented residents of the Central Valley have been placed in removal proceedings.
Upon seeing Gray’s communication to voters, Phil Arballo made the following statement:
“As a Latino and Democratic candidate running for Congress in a Latino-centric district, this ad, and these endorsements are unacceptable and show complete disrespect to our community and the values of today’s Democratic Party.
It’s not a surprise that Adam Gray advertised his support of far-right Republicans. This is the same “democrat” that stood by Donald Trump when he was attacking California’s environment. We know exactly who he would be in Congress. The Central Valley doesn’t need another Republican representative disguising themselves in Democratic clothing.”
Phil Arballo is a lifelong Central Valley resident and he and his wife Cynthia are raising their two children in the same community he grew up in. Raised by a single mother, Phil was the first in his family to attend college, working minimum wage jobs to pay his own way through Fresno State. He believes we need an economy that offers middle-class families a pathway to good-paying jobs, supports our local farming communities and gives everyone a fair shot at success.
Learn more at philarballo.com.