Thanks to a restaurant owner with a foundation in politics, Republican political consultant and policy adviser Karl Rove now knows where Woodbridge is.
“It’s my old life and my new life combined here,” said Woodbridge Crossing owner Steve Ding.
Ding previously served as chief of staff for former Rep. Richard Pombo, and was hopping cross country flights several times a week for meetings. Now he’s using his connections and his Woodbrige restaurant to garner support for political newcomers like Rep. Doug LaMalfa of Richvale and bring speakers like Rove to town.
On Saturday, about 15 guests lined up for photos with Rove and LaMalfa, then picked up copies of Rove’s book “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight.”
The crowd included Pombo, Kautz Farms owners John and Gail Kautz, and California Farm Bureau Federation official Kenny Watkins, among others.
They sat down to lunches that ran from $1,000 per person to $2,600 sponsorships.
The group dined on a Delta asparagus soup purée, a maison salad with baby greens, organic beets, d’Anjou pears and candied walnuts, and roasted rack of lamb, with wine from Ironstone Vineyards. Dessert was a blueberry apricot crisp from Phillip’s Farms.
Pombo introduced LaMalfa to the group as the man in Congress who takes on national issues on behalf of farmers.
“When it comes to California agriculture, he is our voice,” he said.
LaMalfa made a short speech thanking his donors and promising to advance the right kinds of issues in the House of Representatives.
Then it was time for Rove to take the floor. He stood up at his place at a middle table, just as the soup course was being served.
Rove spoke on the challenges facing the Republican Party, including President Barack Obama’s handling of the deficit and foreign policy decisions.
“Our president has basically failed to provide the leadership we need to keep the world safe,” Rove said.
Collectively, Rove believes the Republican Party has the numbers and power to take back control in next year’s midterm election.
“This election, we were supposedly all fired up and ready to go, then we had lower turnout than last time,” he said. “Ultimately, I have the confidence that we will win and can introduce policies that will make our country a better place.”
He noted the party will have to avoid “the Todd Akins and the Richard Murdochs.”
“We can’t have guys with the two-step plan: Step one, open mouth; step two, insert foot,” he said.
Rove recommended doing more to better understand the party’s own candidates.
“We need to do opposition research on ourselves,” he said.
Rove addressed job production. At the current rate of production, he said, it will take 15 more months to get the job market back to the same level as in December 2007. Meanwhile, 9 million more people have entered the job market.
Rove also called the recession recovery the worst in history, and the only time when the median family income dropped during a recovery.
But seeing LaMalfa begin to make a name for himself in politics was reassuring, said Rove, who called the freshman Congressman a good guy with down-to-earth common sense.
“We need him to write a good Farm Bill,” he said. “If we don’t get this right, we might not have another chance in our lifetime.”
He ended by saying the GOP needs to show a strong win next year to move forward.
“We are here to do the right thing, and what the founders had in mind for the country, and that’s not the direction we’re headed in,” he said.