San Jose mayoral candidate Matt Mahan, county supervisorial candidate Johnny Khamis and sheriff candidate Kevin Jensen are all actively courting Republican voters in their quest for public office.
Khamis and Jensen were once Republicans, while Mahan is not. Khamis publicly left the party in 2018, while Jensen—a registered Republican since 1988—changed his status to no party preference last year.
Some Bay Area Republican groups are hailing the “three amigos” as their choice for public office. That could be a kiss of death for the three wannabe office holders.
The previous iteration of Silicon Valley Republicans that included Jim Cunneen, Johnny Khamis, Dev Davis, Kevin Jensen and Laurie Smith have all changed their party registration. Even the few institutional Republicans who remain in the party distance themselves from what is now a QAnon majority. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, no liberal, remains an outcast in a party she used to lead.
In Santa Clara County, the red MAGA hat is met with the same aversion as a white KKK hood. To even be associated with the party is problematic for any politician, hence the reregistration by Khamis and Jensen. So why the pandering to Republicans?
While small in numbers, Republicans may make a difference in close races. Mahan, Khamis and Jensen have decided they cannot win a majority of Democrats, but if the “three amigos” can split enough Democratic votes off their rivals and pick up a majority of the Republican vote, the theory is they can win.
The key to that strategy is to keep it a secret from a majority of Democratic voters that they are wooing Trump voters. Women could turn on any candidate who relies on Trump Republican votes for their office.
As for Mahan, Khamis and Jensen, it is a high-risk strategy. In politics, it is very hard not to recognize the elephant in the room. And if they walk like elephants and talk like elephants and were once part of the herd, they just may be elephants. Voters should beware of elephants in donkey clothing.
Yes, the jokes write themselves.
San José Spotlight columnist Rich Robinson is a political consultant, attorney and author of “The Shadow Candidate.” His columns appear every fourth Wednesday of the month.
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