True to his word, Simi Valley businessman Rafael Dagnesses is carrying on with his campaign for the House of Representatives in the 26th Congressional District, even after Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo jumped into the race.
Dagnesses has scheduled a campaign kickoff event for Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Westlake Village Inn. He has also secured a new high-profile supporter in Assemblyman Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita -- a colleague of Gorell's in the Assembly Republican Caucus.
In a news release announcing the kickoff, Dagnesses stresses his personal experience as a Marine Corps veteran, former Los Angeles Police Department officer and as an entrepreneur who built a successful real estate business from scratch.
"I'm not a career politician, I'm not affected by the dynamics of Washington politics," he says in the news release. "I feel I can better represent a community where I have spent most of my adult family life, and raised my children. I have committed much of my life to public service, and I feel personal freedom and holding true to our Constitution are imperative when it comes to serving the public."
Dagnesses, a Cuban immigrant, also credits his family roots for helping him develop an appreciation for American freedoms. He notes that his parents fled the "tyranny" of Fiedel Castro's Cuba. Until he became a citizen while a member of the Marine Corps, Dagnesses had lived legally in the United States under refugee status.
The news release makes no mention of Gorell, but it is clear that Dagnesses has set his sites on Gorell, as it appears the two will compete to become the Republican challenger to freshman Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley of Westlake Village next fall.
Meanwhile, Democrats are also putting a target on Gorell's back.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week released a press release headlined, "Gorell Preps for Congress By Taking Special Interest Junket to Maui."
It notes that Gorell, for the second straight year, was among about a score of California lawmakers to attend a November conference in Maui sponsored by the Independent Voter Project, a nonprofit organization headed bv former Democratic state Sen. Steve Peace.
The Independent Voter Project paid his expenses (last year Gorell reported the value of the airfare and lodging he received at $2,383), while Gorell says he paid for his family members' expenses from his officeholder account, which is funded by political contributions. No taxpayer dollars were involved.
The Independent Voter Project will not divulge the sources of its funding or the names of individual lawmakers who attended. The blog CalNewsroom.com reported that Gorell was among this year's attendees, and Gorell confirmed that report to me this morning.
Press reports have identified some of the Independent Voter Project's financial supporters as Chevron, Altria and Southern California Edison.
The conference took place Nov. 17-21. Gorell said he did not make his decision to run for Congress until the weekend after he returned, and made his announcement the following Monday, Nov. 25.