Challengers seek to unseat incumbent in District 4 Congressional race (Q&A with candidates) |

Challengers seek to unseat incumbent in District 4 Congressional race (Q&A with candidates)

With the primary election wrapping up Tuesday, voters will decide which two candidates will advance to the November contest for a chance to represent California’s 4th District in Congress.

The race for District 4, which stretches from Truckee down to Sequoia National Park, is being hailed by Democrats as an opportunity to help their party’s bid to take majority control of the House of Representatives. That likely won’t be an easy task, as President Trump won the district by a comfortable margin in 2016 and Republican incumbent Tom McClintock has held the seat since 2009, winning the last two elections by more than 20 percentage points.

However, Democratic Party candidates Jessica Morse and Regina Bateson have helped moved McClintock’s seat from a rating of “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican” according to Crystal Ball House ratings. Morse has made headway in the race with McClintock, outraising his campaign in three consecutive fundraising quarters. According to Morse, 78 percent of contributions toward her campaign have come from small donors, who have donated $200 or less.

As of May 16, McClintock still has an advantage, having raised a total of $1,077,031 with Morse close behind, raising $1,069,201 and Bateson raising $722,825, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Candidates with the two highest votes will move onto the general election in November, despite party affiliation. Mitchell White is the only other Republican candidate, with Roza Calderon and Robert Lawton running as Democrats.

While Morse’s fundraising has made her a frontrunner among the four Democratic candidates, Lawton has expressed his concern over McClintock sweeping the election again if Morse were to get past the primaries.

“A vote for Jessica Morse in the primary, is essentially a vote for McClintock in the fall,” he said. “I believe she’s a weak, deeply flawed candidate with a difficult history of telling the truth.”

In February, the Sacramento Bee reported that Morse had stretched the truth about her background, implying that she was once a senior official making renowned U.S. foreign policy decisions, when government documents and interviews with former senior officials revealed that she was a junior member of larger teams.

“It’s a shame my Democratic opponent has made misleading attacks on my public service,” Morse said. “I am focused on solving problems, including the many challenges Congressman McClintock has ignored such as proactively preventing wildfires, investing in vocational training, and making sure all families in our district have access to quality affordable health care.”

Morse has been able to convince supporters she is the right one for the job, raising nearly as much money as the incumbent through grassroots efforts.

Neither Bateson or Morse have run for office before.

Bateson, a native of Roseville, worked as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State following 9/11, issuing and denying visas and working on visa fraud investigations. If elected she would be the only person in Congress who has ever issued or denied a visa. In January she promised to drop out of the race if the state Democratic party did not endorse her.

The party officially endorsed Jessica Morse instead in February, but Bateson continued to run for office.

The Democratic Party has not had majority control of congress since 2010. Currently, Democrats hold 194 of 435 seats. They need 218 to regain control. Of the 24 seats they need, Hillary Clinton won 23 of those districts in the 2016 election.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or



(Editor’s note: Roza Calderon did not provide responses to the following questions from the Sierra Sun.)

Sierra Sun: What is your stance on current gun regulations? Given the frequency of shootings across the country, especially in our schools, how will you work to protect citizens against future gun violence?

Regina Bateson: I respect the 2nd Amendment and the rights of responsible gun owners here in our district. But at the same time, we can all agree we need to do more to protect our kids and our communities. I will fight for universal background checks, which are supported by more than 90% of Americans. I also support reviving the federal assault weapons ban. In addition, I’m completely opposed to Tom McClintock’s efforts to endanger public safety. McClintock has co-sponsored legislation that would make it easier for individuals to purchase silencers and armor-piercing bullets — despite opposition from police chiefs nationwide, who have argued that these measures would endanger their officers. When it comes to public safety, we should listen to law enforcement — not a reckless ideologue like Tom McClintock. It’s time to vote McClintock out and send someone to Washington who actually cares about the well-being our community and our kids.  I’m proud to be recognized as a Moms Demand Action “Gun Sense Candidate,” and I’ll stand up for commonsense reforms to enhance our safety.

Robert Lawton: I’m a gun owner. That said; I believe ​The Assault Weapons Ban doesn’t go far enough, & no-one outside of active law enforcement or the military should be able to legally own a semi-automatic “assault weapon”. If elected, I’ll fight for much more comprehensive gun control measures, similar to what was done in Australia.

Tom McClintock: In fifty years of experience with gun laws, we have found them extremely effective at disarming law-abiding citizens.  We have found them extremely ineffective at disarming criminals, madmen and terrorists.  Fortunately, we know what works: executing murderers, locking up other gun predators until they are old and feeble, confining the dangerously mentally ill so they can be treated, and protecting the right of responsible armed citizens who can return fire. These laws protected us well for many decades. But beginning in the 1960’s, under relentless attack by leftist politicians, our governments abandoned them. Today, we are reaping the whirlwind.

Jessica Morse: I am horrified each time the news reports on more children killed in another mass shooting. Like a lot of people in our district, I grew up hunting with my family, and respect the rights of responsible gun owners. But when I ask my gun-owning friends and family if they are supportive of universal background checks, bans on assault weapons, and ten-day waiting periods, they nod their heads. California gun regulations do not hinder responsible gun owners, they prevent criminals from obtaining weapons. That is why I would push for the nation to enact the same, common sense legislation we have in California. I believe that Americans are less divided on this issue than it appears, and that most of us can agree on a set of gun safety measures to protect our families and communities from this awful violence.

Mitchell White: I do not believe that we need any further gun regulations. Gun regulations such as an assault weapons ban would not reduce senseless violence. The UPenn study of the 1994-2004 assault weapon ban proved the ban to be ineffective in decreasing gun violence. The study found that gun crimes involving assault weapons decreased 17-72% in the areas that were tracked. However, that was completely offset by the fact that non-assault weapons increased by the same amount. Therefore, there was no impact on safety due to the assault weapon ban. I am focusing on solutions that have been proven to be effective. 1) An armed officer at every high school. 2) Metal detectors if the school wants them. 3) Give teachers, if they want, the opportunity to carry a concealed weapon. 4) Fix the background check system. I care about safety and that is why I am not wasting my time on ineffective solutions that only infringe upon our rights.

Sierra Sun: President Trump has been adamant about keeping immigration into the U.S. at a minimum. What is your stance on immigration in California? Will you work to protect illegal immigrants under the Dreamers Act and DACA program?

Regina Bateson: Our immigration system is broken. We urgently need reform, and I’m uniquely qualified to get the job done in Washington, DC. I am a former consular officer, and if elected, I would be the only person in Congress who has ever issued or denied a visa. This firsthand experience means I’ll be leader in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a clean DREAM Act. I’m proud to be endorsed by Tomas Evangelista, one of the co-founders of California DREAMers. When it comes to immigration policy in Congress, my first priority a clean DREAM Act — that is to say, that DREAMers should be given a clear path to citizenship, and their status should be addressed separately from any other policy proposals that might complicate the passage of the DREAM act. Our district is home to thousands of DREAMers. Here in CA-04 alone, DREAMers are contributing $71 million a year to our local economy. It would make absolutely no sense to attempt to deport these bright young people who have grown up here and our now giving back to our community. Bipartisan immigration reform is more complicated and will require more negotiation. I support a pathway to citizenship for folks who are currently undocumented, provided they can pass background checks and pay fees. But I also understand the importance of enforcing our country’s immigration laws and keeping our borders secure. As part of a broad effort to reform our immigration system, I will push for smart uses of technology along our southern border, to keep us secure while spending taxpayer dollars wisely. I also believe we should create an exit-tracking system so we know when and where visa-holders leave the country. This is a matter of national security; the 9/11 Commission recommended this change more than a decade ago, but it’s never been fully implemented due to a lack of funding from Congress. It’s time to change that. McClintock talks tough when it comes to immigration, but the truth is he doesn’t understand our nation’s immigration system. I do — and if you send me to Washington, I will fight to make sure our immigration laws really meet the needs of California employers and families alike.

Robert Lawton: I believe we need to pass a clean DREAM ACT, pass DAPA & #AbolishICE.

Tom McClintock: This question begins with a false premise that confuses legal immigration with illegal immigration.  Our immigration laws were written to assure that immigrants assimilate into American society.  Regulating the flow and setting the conditions of immigration assures that uniquely American traditions and values – a common language, a common culture, and a common devotion to American constitutional principles – are preserved.  If we tolerate, much less, reward, illegal immigration, we undermine the process of assimilation that our immigration laws protect and we make a mockery of the millions of legal immigrants who have obeyed those laws and done everything our country has asked. I strongly oppose the sanctuary movement that seeks to undermine our immigration laws and our rule of law and strongly support the active enforcement of our current immigration laws.  Restoring the security of our border and the enforcement of our immigration laws is a necessary prerequisite to resolving the DACA issue; otherwise we simply encourage another wave of illegal immigration.

Jessica Morse: We must reject politically motivated attempts to divide our nation by race or background and instead pursue wise policy solutions. When our current Congress fails to pass immigration reform or a DREAM Act they create uncertainty for the economy and millions of people. I will work in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, because our community depends on immigrants, and we must work together to build a consensus that can get support from both parties. A piecemeal approach won’t work and only serves to further divisions. We need to establish an efficient and transparent way for people to come into our country and contribute to our economy. We also need a DREAM Act that ensures those who came to this country as children and have known no other home for most of their lives have a clear path to citizenship. This is common sense, and we cannot afford to play political games with people’s lives.

Mitchell White: When immigration is done legally and with vetting it is great for California. DACA is unconstitutional and should not be allowed. We need strong borders and we need to vet everyone who comes into our country so that we know they are coming into America without bringing drugs, crime, or taking advantage of our welfare system. I will not work to protect illegal immigrants. I will work to protect citizens of the United States of America.

Sierra Sun: Since Trump was elected, dozens of environmental rules upheld by the Environmental Protection Agency have been either opened for reconsideration or overturned altogether. While he is looking to bolster the economy by eliminating regulations he claims are unnecessary, critics argue that this will come at a steep price to the environment. What is your stance on Trump’s policy changes regarding the EPA?

Regina Bateson: The Trump administration’s efforts to gut the EPA are an absolute tragedy. Decades ago, American children had to grow up in an environment that was dirty, polluted, and dangerous. Why would we ever want to return that world? I am all in favor of streamlining regulations and making compliance simpler and more straightforward for business owners and local governments. For example, I will provide our region with excellent constituent services, and I will work hard to make sure that federal agencies complete their environmental reviews as quickly as possible. But protections for our clean air and clean water are not “unnecessary regulations.” Rather, these policies are absolutely essential to our health and wellbeing. I understand the science. I get the urgency. I am a researcher by training, and in Congress I will be a strong voice for evidence-based policy-making.

Robert Lawton: I believe the single greatest threat to our planet is climate change, and the most effective way to combat it, (while creating millions of jobs), is through a massive clean energy initiative.

Tom McClintock: The regulations already on the books cost the American economy $1.9 trillion a year – about ten percent of our entire economic output. We have rolled back some 1,500 separate regulatory acts and slowed new regulations that cost more than $100 million to implement by 2/3.  The economy is responding: economic growth this past year averages almost twice what we saw under the Obama administration.  I strongly support these efforts.

Jessica Morse: I grew up skiing around Tahoe and camping in Yosemite. Those experiences have shaped my worldview and protecting these incredible landscapes in our district is a key part of why I decided to run for Congress. To the Environmental Protection Agency’s claims that rolling back environmental protections will benefit business, I say, “What about the working families in Tahoe’s ski industry?” The ski industry is a top employer in our district and just one of many parts of our economy that will be devastated if the EPA continues overturning these vital protections. I will fight their recent suspension of the Waters of the United States rule (which was designed to limit pollution in roughly 60% of the country’s bodies of water) and support California’s suit to keep our clean-car regulations in place. I will stand up to any EPA policy (or lack thereof) which risks injury to our families, to the economic hubs of our Sierra, or to our special way of life.

Mitchell White: I believe that we should do our best to keep our environment clean and be good stewards of the environment. However, I do think that most regulations cause unneeded burden on taxpayers. All environmental proposals need to be considered in terms of pros and cons.

Sierra Sun: As District 4 encompasses much of the Sierra Nevada with vast expanses of protected forests, how will you work to protect our national forests and its resources?

Regina Bateson: I grew up here in the 4th District, and I love hiking and camping in our mountains. But today our national forests, parks, monuments, and wilderness areas are in jeopardy. As the chair of the Subcommittee on Federal Lands, Tom McClintock is actively working to roll back protections for our public lands. This horrifies me, and it should horrify every voter in CA-04 who believes in responsible stewardship of our great outdoors. I believe we need several changes in Washington. We need to elect strong pro-conservation representatives who will preserve our federal lands, rather than stripping away their protections and handing them over to special interests and private corporations. I value our public lands, and I will ensure that the Forest Service, the National Park Service, and other agencies are fully funded, so they can actually do the work that is necessary to adequately manage our forests and our public lands — including tackling the tree mortality crisis in the Sierra. I will also ensure that funds for fire prevention are protected, so they are not “stolen” for first suppression, and I believe we need to do more to help high-risk communities become more fire-safe. I support legislation that emphasizes fire prevention, and I think we need to direct more fire prevention dollars to the areas that are closest to our communities, homes, and settled areas, rather than focusing so much of our attention on the backcountry. I will push for tax credits to help homeowners make their homes more fire-safe. Finally, I know that climate change poses an enormous threat to our forests here in the 4th District. I’m proud to be the only candidate in this race who supports a carbon fee and dividend at the federal level. If elected, I’ll join the Climate Solutions Caucus and be a leader in the fight against climate change. CA-04 deserves no less.

Robert Lawton: No response

Tom McClintock: I chair the Federal Lands Sub-Committee of the House Natural Resources Committee and have focused that committee’s work on addressing the forest crisis.  Excess timber comes out of the forest in one of two ways: it is carried out or it burns out.  When we carried it out, we had healthy forests and a thriving economy.  Since we consigned our forests to a policy of benign neglect, they have become morbidly overgrown and in that stressed condition can no longer resist drought, disease, pestilence and ultimately, catastrophic fire.  Our sub-committee has produced landmark legislation to restore scientific management to our forests and restore a proper balance between tree density and the ability of the land to support it. My legislation to expedite the removal of dead and dying timber, increase federal funding for forest management in the Tahoe Basin by $150 million and encourage new water storage was signed into law as part of the WIIN (Water Infrastructure for the Nation) Act last year.  This legislation is now being implemented and the Forest Service credits it as a model of future forest management.  I am currently working to expand its provisions to all of our forests.

Jessica Morse: Last fall, I volunteered to help those who had lost so much because of the Detwiler fire. This reinforced my drive to understand the causes of our devastating fires and learn what I could do to support permanent fixes. I discovered stakeholders across our district (and across the political spectrum) coming together on forest management strategies to prevent wildfires including fire breaks, prescribed burns, and forest thinning that save homes, businesses, public spaces – entire communities – from the total devastation of an out-of-control wildfire. Instead of supporting these bipartisan community efforts Tom McClintock ignores local voices and supports a forest management bill which is nothing more than a taxpayer funded giveaway to the largest timber companies. When I am elected I will end Congress’ short sighted refusal to dedicate funding for fire prevention. The Butte fire cost $73 million to contain and caused an estimated $1 billion in damage in our district. If we had invested a mere fraction of that amount as our leaders in the forest and firefighting communities had advised, we could have created jobs, saved millions of dollars and people’s lives. Tom McClintock’s forest and fire policy is neither fiscally conservative nor responsible.

Mitchell White: We need to make sure our forests are beautiful for this generation and for the coming generations. I do not believe in clear cutting the forest, but a healthy management of preventing out of control fires by thinning will bring our forests back to a healthy and natural state. Our forests have become overgrown in many areas and would benefit from allowing the lumber industry to sensibly thin the forest to its natural state. This has been proven to be ideal for reducing out of control forest fires and to allow trees to grow healthily by not needing to fight over resources due to being overgrown.

Sierra Sun: California’s water supply is continually threatened by droughts and wildfires. How will you work to protect our natural water supplies and ensure safe drinking water for future generations?

Regina Bateson: Water is critically important to our district and our state. Climate change will lead to more frequent droughts in the future, and we must ensure that local agricultural producers and the residents of our district have adequate access to water. Unlike Tom McClintock, I don’t take any money from big agribusiness in the Central Valley. The needs of CA-04 will always be my top priority. We also need to make sure our existing infrastructure is safe and efficient. I believe we should invest more in maintaining, inspecting, and improving our existing levees and dams. CA-04 is a major source of water for the California as a whole, and downstream consumers of water should be paying to help maintain our watersheds. I support the USDA’s “Forests to Faucets” program, and I believe that we should explore payments for watershed services to help prevent fires and manage our forests here in CA-04. Finally, I am strongly opposed to GOP-led efforts to allow for higher levels of pollution in our drinking water.

Robert Lawton: I’ll fight to overturn the Monterey Amendment and secure water supply for the entire state.

Tom McClintock: Droughts are nature’s fault, but water shortages are our fault.  They are a choice we made 45 years ago when we passed laws that has made the construction of new reservoirs cost prohibitive.  We have not built a major new reservoir since 1979, while our population has doubled.  We will not solve our water shortages until we build more reservoirs, and we can’t build more reservoirs until we overhaul the laws that prevent their construction.  The good news is that we’re making progress: My legislation to expedite new reservoir construction passed the House last year and awaits action in the Senate, and I was successful in getting major new water provisions into the WIIN Act.

Jessica Morse: The Sierra Nevada is the source of more than 60% of our state’s water. But while Tom McClintock backs big dam building projects designed to move mountain water to the Central Valley and Southern California, our rural water systems are in need of serious attention. I’ll put the needs of our district first, by focusing on the safety and purity of our local water supply and the health of our watersheds. Many of the small water delivery and water treatment systems that serve our communities date as far back as the Gold Rush. They are at risk, both physically and financially, and that creates risks for our families and businesses. From fixing corroded pipes to cleaning up mining toxins to ensuring our systems can survive the next big fire, I will work to direct resources toward our communities’ needs rather than to big water projects that don’t benefit us.

Mitchell White: We need to approve more water reservoirs so that we do not have water shortages in years of droughts. Our water tables are often being contaminated with pesticides used by drug cartels who illegally plant marijuana. The legalization of marijuana in California has led to an increase in black market activity and the pesticides used by the black market growers are extremely dangerous and contaminating our water tables. Our current representative, Tom McClintock, has written legislation that would limit the Federal Government’s ability to enforcing the law and cracking down on illegal marijuana farms.

Sierra Sun: With recent tax cuts, how will you work to spend taxpayer money responsibly?

Regina Bateson: The recent GOP tax bill added $1 trillion to our national debt while raising taxes for many Californians. Now, Tom McClintock wants you to believe that cutting essential services and earned benefits is the only way to bring down the national debt. Don’t be fooled. I believe that large corporations and the wealthiest individuals in our country must pay their fair share to help us balance the books in our country. I also know that with better long-term planning, we can spend taxpayer dollars more wisely and efficiently. Right now, we have a federal government that careens from continuing resolution to continuing resolution. Our spending is essentially on “autopilot,” rather than being pro-actively evaluated each year, as it should be. I think we need a Congress that actually passes budgets again, to avoid policy decisions that are penny-wise and pound-foolish. That’s why I support the “No Budget, No Pay” Act, which says that if Congress does not pass a budget and the necessary appropriations bills on time, then our members of Congress should not be paid. We’ve had enough of career politicians who aren’t willing to do the hard work of governing. I’m a pragmatic problem-solver who will work across the aisle to break through gridlock and actually get things done in Washington, DC.

Robert Lawton: The tax bill is a giveaway to the ones least worthy at receiving the giveaway at the expense of those in most in need of tax cuts. I will do everything in my power to tear up the Republican tax bill and start over.

Tom McClintock: I was able to get major improvements in the tax reform bill that are estimated to save the average family in this district $1,900 in federal taxes.  (You can see how it affects your family at  As chairman of the Budget Task Force of the largest caucus within the House, I have overseen the production of budget plans that will put our country back into solvency within six years and restore Social Security and Medicare to sound financial footing.  The National Taxpayers Union twice rated me as the best vote for taxpayers in the House, and Citizens Against Government Waste has consistently rated me as one of the top votes in Congress for fighting government waste.

Jessica Morse: The tax bill amounted to a historic giveaway to wealthy political donors, at the expense of the middle class and future generations of Americans. In 2018, families with incomes below $25,000 will see just $40 from the bill, while the highest-earning households receive an average income tax cut of $32,650. And it gets worse over time: by 2027, 86% of the tax bill’s benefit will go to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. The CBO recently determined that the tax bill will add $1.8 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, meaning that America is going further into debt in order to finance a wealth transfer to the rich. And now politicians who voted for this scam, like our Congressman, are using the deficits it creates as an excuse to threaten programs like Social Security and Medicare. For me this is not just a fiscal issue, but a deeply moral one. I will never support unfair legislation that hurts middle-class Americans or future generations in order to further enrich the ultra wealthy.

Mitchell White: First, I think that we need further tax cuts. Secondly, I will reduce spending by finding waste in our government and cutting it out. As a senior auditor, it has been my experience to find problems and create solutions. And I plan to take the same approach with the problem of excessive waste in our government.


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