Fresno Bee Says Jeff Denham “Betrays the Valley”
The Fresno Bee is out with a damning new editorial, saying that Representative Jeff Denham “Betrays the Valley”:
In the Central Valley — where unemployment averages more than 15%, more than 40% in some cities — the [HSR] project would bring jobs and better connections with the coastal economies. It would relieve traffic congestion on roads and at airports.
But Denham’s having none of it. He laments that construction on the first 29 miles of track between Madera and Fresno will start soon.
Denham’s constituents and residents across the state should demand more from their congressman. He should be representing the Central Valley, California and the transportation interests of the nation — not pitting the Northeast region against all others.
Not much else to add to this aside from the political analysis that Denham is not going to be helped at all by having one of the major media outlets in the Valley denouncing him in such strong terms. Denham is still vulnerable in his new district, and has only been in Congress a term and a half. As the Valley becomes more politically moderate, Denham’s full throated embrace of an extremist right-wing agenda will become an increasing liability to his political career.
Supporting HSR is the right thing to do on the merits. It’s also the right thing to do for Jeff Denham. We’ll see if he listens to his constituents or if he continues to appease the out-of-state right-wing donors who he now answers to.
UPDATE: The Modesto Bee, which serves Denham’s district, piles on with their own editorial:
While we share his concerns about the cost of California’s high-speed rail project, we think Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, was way out of line with his comment that $6 billion in federal and state money earmarked for the California project should go to the Northeast corridor of Amtrak instead….
Denham has a responsibility to represent Californians and especially the Central Valley, where the unemployment averages more than 15 percent.
The high-speed rail project is on track to proceed. Construction on the first 29 miles of track between Madera and Fresno will start soon. Opponents like Denham need recognize that they’ve lost this political fight and to turn their attention to cutting costs and making sure it works.
While it is understandable that he questions the federal dollars, over which he has influence, going to California’s high- speed rail, he should not be suggesting — even in an off-hand way — that California money should go to the other side of the country.
Denham’s anti-HSR attitude is shaping up to be a big problem for him back home. As it should.