Sacramento Bee Editorial Endorsement of Dr. Kermit Jones

by the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board

Voters in the Placer County-based 3rd Congressional District face an unenviable choice of Republicans to succeed Tom McClintock, their longtime nonresident representative: state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who fomented last year’s wasteful gubernatorial recall attempt only to place behind two other Kevins; and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a local exponent of Trump-style xenophobia who has defied pandemic precautions and let Netflix turn his miserable jail into lurid entertainment. For those and other obvious reasons, both refused to submit to a few questions from The Bee’s Editorial Board. Fortunately, the region’s voters have another option, and a better one, in Dr. Kermit Jones, a former Navy flight surgeon and Iraq veteran brimming with thoughtful proposals on health care, wildfire resilience and more.

Encompassing Placer County and portions of Sacramento, El Dorado and Yuba counties, including Rocklin, Roseville and Folsom, the sprawling new 3rd Congressional District also stretches through Lake Tahoe and much of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, including Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Alpine, Mono and Inyo counties. After redistricting, McClintock, who lives in Elk Grove but represents much of the district, fled for the redder pastures of the 5th, which includes much of the San Joaquin Valley territory formerly represented by the new head of Donald Trump’s flailing media company, Devin Nunes. While the 3rd also tilts Republican, it favored Trump by less than two percentage points. Raised on a small farm in the Midwest, Dr. Jones joined the Navy after 9/11 and was deployed twice to Iraq with a Marine helicopter squadron based at Camp Pendleton, which was his introduction to California.

A lawyer and practicing family physician, he acquired a deeper understanding of the health care system as a White House fellow during the Obama administration and through the difficult experience of helping his mother through lung cancer treatment. “I had to navigate the health care system for her,” Jones told the Editorial Board. “She’s still alive today … but that really is only because she has a son who’s a doctor, and that’s not the way our health care system is supposed to work.” Jones has a detailed plan to improve the system by decreasing drug, hospital and other care costs; increasing access to care for pregnant women, veterans and rural residents; adding a public option to reduce insurance costs; and investing in public health, mental health care and drug treatment.

He also advocates a federal fire insurance program as one means of grappling with climate change in a way that crosses the usual partisan divides. Noting his district’s particular vulnerability to wildfire, he said, “It’s not like those fires come and decide they’re only going to burn Democratic homes or Republican homes or independent homes. All of us are threatened by that.” Jones, who calls himself “a different type of Democrat,” said the district’s partisan lean shouldn’t be taken for granted. He noted that it includes “a lot of Republicans and independents who voted for Biden; they didn’t just check the box for Trump. … And when I was out there talking to some of these people, they didn’t believe in the big lie — they did not believe that Trump won the election.”

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