By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Over the years, I have said several times that if someone is running for office, and the contest is between a veteran with combat experience and a non-veteran, most times I will lean in the direction of voting for the veteran. That is not hard and fast, but my findings have been that if someone has survived combat, the extra street smarts that come from making decisions that are literally life and death, with little time for debate, tend to show up as beneficial when making legislative decisions that can mean life or death for the republic. That seems to be the case in the US Congressional race in California between two men, Dr. Amerish (Ami) Bera, the current representative from the 7th District, who is being opposed by a former Marine combat veteran by the name of Andrew Grant.

Ami has had campaign-related controversy that it appears he has not been able to control, nor of which he was aware when it was going on, allegedly. His father engaged in an illegal fundraising scheme wherein friends and family members fronted thousands of dollars for Ami’s campaign, with the promise to be repaid by Ami’s father, Babulal. The purpose was to do an end run around campaign finance regulations, and was successful in two of Ami’s elections before Babulal got caught, tried, convicted, sentenced, and incarcerated.

Here is what is troubling to me: Ami never went to see his dad in prison. Apparently they would talk on the phone, and that is good, but it makes me wonder if Ami was too worried about the optics to go have a face-to-face with his dad because of how it would look. The reasons given were that the health of Ami’s mom was too fragile, and that may be; yet, I have a hard time believing that there was no opportunity within the time of Babulal’s incarceration that Ami could not have seen him. It would be irresponsible to be dogmatic about their situation, but it does beg several questions that would make me nervous if I were a California voter. All told, Babulal illegally raised around $300,000 for Ami’s campaign.

By contrast, Andrew Grant is not only a Marine with combat experience, he is a Naval Academy graduate, an intel officer, and served under John Bolton in the State Department. As far as varied military experience is concerned, he has been a reconnaissance commander of Marines, SEALS, and Scout Snipers; he has been a Navy diver; fought drugs with both the Marines as well as law enforcement in Southern California; worked with South Koreans and Aussies; served in the Middle East and Kosovo; and fought Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He finished his time as a Marine officer in a Defense Intelligence Agency analyzing North Korea.

When Andrew finished his military service career, he became involved with a local company in California, worked his way up to executive level, and went on to become the CEO of a trade group. To me, from the standpoint of experience, service, focus, and scope, Andrew appears to be the better candidate. However, at the end of the day, I am just thankful that I have been made aware of a true officer and a gentleman, and irrespective of the outcome, I am glad these guys are facing off. What is troubling, though, is that as of this writing, Ami refuses to share the platform with, let alone debate, his opponent Andrew. To me, Ami’s silence is roaring, and I hope the voters of his district retire him so he can go look after his family.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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