California’s 2020 primary election is still 11 months away, but there are already two local Republicans stepping forward to challenge incumbent Congressman Josh Harder and represent District 10. One, a former Turlock City Councilmember and second-time congressional candidate, hopes to use his homegrown ties to the area in order to win a spot in D.C., while the other, an engineer and veteran from Modesto, would like to see a new way forward for the Republican party.
Ted Howze and Charles Dossett are the only two Republicans who have formally announced their campaigns to run for California’s 10th Congressional District. Howze held an event at Red Brick Bar & Grill in Turlock on Saturday to announce his candidacy, while Dossett let voters know he’d be on the ballot during an event held last week at the Manteca Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall. While Dossett hasn’t yet registered to run for office with the Federal Elections Commission, he intends to do so this week, he said.
Howze joined the crowded congressional race in 2018 after an eight-year hiatus from politics, holding his own as the only Republican challenger to then-incumbent Jeff Denham and placing third in the primary election. After living in Stockton for a few years, he and his family have relocated back to Turlock where his veterinary office is located. He felt the need to run for Congress again for many of the same reasons he decided to throw his hat into the ring in 2018, he said.
“We still have a dysfunctional federal government. They’re gridlocked into fighting partisan battles, rather than representing the people in our district,” Howze said. “Even though we changed incumbents, we haven’t fixed the problem.”
Dossett is running for public office for the first time, also spurred by the divisive rhetoric currently taking center stage between politicians in America. He’s a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and was born on Travis Air Force Base, but has called Modesto home for the last five years after transitioning from active duty military service into civilian life. He currently owns a construction company that operates throughout the Central Valley.
“I think we need to figure out how to bridge the divide so we can start having real conversations, and this applies to both the far-left and the far-right,” Dossett said. “I don’t want to be the guy who just sits there and complains. I want to be the guy who fights for what he believes in.”
When it comes to what they believe in, Howze and Dossett are quite similar. Unsurprisingly, neither of them is pleased with the job Harder has done. They both mentioned Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when discussing the new Congressman, and said that despite his constant visits to the District since his election, he doesn’t have the area’s best interests at heart.
Howze wants to focus on issues that are of importance to the local population he said, like improving the amount of affordable housing, fixing local roads and reducing the burden on commuters, healthcare and immigration reform.
Harder has stepped forward as one of the new faces at the forefront of the Democrats’ Medicare for All platform, which would provide universal healthcare for every American citizen. Howze doesn’t think this is the way to go, and he believes it’s the most significant issue in the race.
“I don’t think the approach Democrats are taking with Medicare for All and socialized medicine is the proper one. They’re looking at an old system and trying to fix it,” he said. “The future of healthcare is telemedicine — doctors can send their physician assistants to do the work on patients in their homes, and then relay that info back to doctors in their offices. Innovation creates competition.”
Howze would also like to make it impossible for insurance companies to overrule the requests of doctors, which he said ultimately cost his late wife her life.
“We have to support doctors and make their requirements for testing with patients unchallengeable,” he said.
Dossett also has a personal connection to healthcare. His sister-in-law is battling cancer, and if Republicans repealed the Affordable Care Act without a replacement waiting in the wings, she would lose her coverage due to the preexisting condition. He would not vote to repeal the ACA without a proper plan to replace it, and one that includes protections for those with preexisting conditions.
“I’m annoyed with the Republican party because in the last eight years since Obamacare passed, they’ve voted to repeal it six times, they voted to change it 47 times and they don’t have a plan for it,” Dossett said. “This is insane.”
Healthcare costs across the nation can be brought down through promoting healthier lifestyles among U.S. citizens, Dossett believes, and he would like to see a more transparent market where patients can shop around for hospitals that provide the most affordable care.
While Dossett mentioned he was irked at his own party for their choices surrounding healthcare, he also has taken issue with the way Republicans are promoting their beliefs to voters.
“We’re letting the far-right message our narrative and it’s being messaged wrong, especially in California,” he said. “This is where people tell me to walk a fine line, but President Trump does not represent us [California].”
Dossett believes in the policies the Republican party stands for — he’s pro-life and pro-legal immigration, to name just a couple of stances — but thinks its members can do a better job of reaching out to a wider community, like the Latino, Sikh, LGBTQ and immigrant populations. He’s a moderate Republican, he added, and believes there are other moderates who may have voted Democrat in the last election and need to be persuaded that the party isn’t just the President’s Twitter feed.
“It’s not the party of all-white people…we can be the party of everybody,” he said. “Every Republican cares about character, not characteristics. I don’t care what color you are, what gender you are, what sex you are or how you sleep at night. I care about if you take care of your family.”
Howze doesn’t want to distance himself from the Republican party that people have become accustomed to since the 2016 Presidential Election, though he said he doesn’t agree with the President’s rhetoric at times. The policies are there, he said, but like Dossett, believes the party’s messaging could use some work.
“When you get out and spread a constant message of hard work, rugged individuality and freedom, that message sells because people believe in it,” he said.
Howze has made it a priority to get his message out to the young people in the district, he added, and hopes to see the Republican party register more voters this election cycle. He’s already far ahead of his 2018 campaign efforts, where he joined the race just three months before the primary. So far in the first quarter of 2019, Howze has raised over $300,000 for his campaign, while the Harder campaign recently announced raising over $800,000.
“We already have more cash on-hand today than we spent in the entire 2018 primary. We did really well because of our grassroots movement,” Howze said. “We’re looking forward to the battle and a campaign we intend to keep positive.”
Dossett has not reported any funds raise as of yet, since he hasn’t filed with the FEC.