Should Republicans vote for Kevin Johnson?

On Saturday, I received three different mailers from the Kevin Johnson for Mayor campaign urging me to support his candidacy. The one that stood out the most was the piece that lead with “Attention Republicans”. Then it finally hit me… I don’t know if I, as a Republican should vote for Kevin Johnson.

I realized that the true choice is between two democrats; one who is an unabashed liberal and the other who is clearly more moderate. I am forced into a quandary as to whether I would be selling out my Republican values to support a democrat-Kevin Johnson, based only on the hope that he will be better Fargo on the issues that are important to me. And while a side by side comparison of the two candidates bears this out to be true, a closer inspection into the Johnson campaign presents numerous contradictions that leave this Republican voter with more questions than answers.

For example, between Johnson and the incumbent, Heather Fargo, Johnson clearly has a better platform from which to promote economic development and job growth. As a business owner and most importantly an employer, Johnson knows what it takes to make Sacramento an attractive place for business. Lower taxes, less regulation and incentives would likely result from a Johnson administration; that is if he is able to stand up to anti-business, entitlement crowd who view business as nothing more than a fatted calf to be tied down fleeced to pay for pet government funded program. The California Legislative Black Caucus, United Healthcare Workers and Teamsters Local 150 represent a small sampling of Johnson’s endorsees who will be inevitably leaning on Johnson to curb his enthusiasm toward the business community.

The Johnson campaign has also tried to portray their candidate as a public safety and limited government advocate. His proposal to increase the number of officers on the street without increasing spending sounds like a great idea on the surface, but lacks the level of specificity that would make it believable. It is also import to consider whether the support Johnson is receiving from the Central Labor Council came with a price. When the chips are down, will Johnson stand up to the pressure from public employee labor unions or will he be like most Democratic electeds and fold like an empty suit, giving up more in salaries and benefits than the City can really afford?

For a brief moment social conservatives found a sliver of hope upon which to hang their support of Kevin Johnson. During a televised debate, Johnson unequivocally stated that he believed that marriage was between a man and a woman. But following the California Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision to legalize same-sex marriage, Johnson made a considerably large step in the opposite direction declaring that he was supportive of the court’s decision and would be an advocate for the LGTB community. Now admittedly, he tempered this position by altering the statement of his website to state that his opposition to same-sex marriage was his personal view and that it would not affect his policy decisions as mayor. This apparent flip-flop is troubling because it presents Johnson as a candidate who wants to be on both sides of the issue; one who will change his position if enough pressure is applied.

All this having been said, I still will not go as far as to say that Republicans should not vote for Kevin Johnson. His primary opponent, Mayor Heather Fargo is clearly more of a big government, tax raising anti-family, job-killing liberal than Johnson. But we should be under no illusion that his campaign has presented any substantive argument that should cause one to believe that a Johnson administration will be able to stand up to the union bosses and limit the growth of our city government; cut taxes and regulation in order to the keep and bring jobs to Sacramento. And we have already been assured by Johnson that his personal inclination toward traditional family and moral values will have nothing to do with his decisions as mayor.

The choice as to whether or not to vote for Kevin Johnson comes down to voting for the devil you know (Heather Fargo) or the candidate you don’t (Kevin Johnson). My hope is that this election continues into the fall, so that I can get to know Johnson better. I know that the chances of us electing a Republican in Sacramento are slim and that Kevin Johnson may be the closest thing we may ever get to a fiscally conservative, pro-business, morally minded mayor.

But before I hang my hat on that hope, I want to know, that I know, that I know….. And right now, all that I know about Kevin Johnson is…. I don’t know.