By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 05/15/16 – 11:45 AM PDT |

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> In a three-car garage, about a dozen people drank wine and ate cheese and crackers — and waited.

Finally, a smiling Paul Chabot hurried up, yard signs advertising his congressional campaign tucked under one arm. His wife, and three of his four children (the fourth was at gymnastics practice) had arrived a few minutes before. They munched on snacks while they watched their father, who’s been running for the 31st Congressional District seat much of their lives, addressed the dozen or so residents gathered there, many of whom had worked to help defeat a proposed citywide tax in 2015.

“It’s going to be a very competitive race,” Chabot said, one elementary school age daughter with her arms around his waist as he spoke.

In his own words, he’s “never stopped running” after losing the 2014 election to Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino, whom Chabot mostly referred to as “the current member of Congress” or “my opponent.”

He criticized Aguilar for voting in favor President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal and called him weak on immigration, and outlined his ambitious plan to turn Norton Air Force Base into a joint military base, complete with drone construction and military intelligence offices.

Both national security and immigration are recurrent themes for Chabot, a naval reservist.

“If a child can walk across that border, so can a terrorist,” he said, combining both concerns into one.

Although Chabot rarely referred to Aguilar by name, he didn’t mention the other three candidates in the race at all. Retired school teacher Kaiser Ahmed is running against Aguilar as a Democrat. And there are two other Republicans in the race, economist Sean Flynn and former Congressman (and former Democrat) Joe Baca. Each of the three Republicans are hoping to finish in the top two in the June 7 primary, and win the chance to take on the incumbent Democrat in November.

“We’re not too focused on either of those,” Chabot said the next day. “We’re staying on target against Aguilar. That’s who we’re going to face in the general. We don’t want to get distracted by anybody else in this race.”

Chabot is banking on his military and law enforcement history to sway voters in the 31st District, which stretches across the Inland Empire, from Redlands to Rancho Cucamonga, rather than a college professor like Flynn.

“We just don’t see him as someone the district is going to relate to,” Chabot said. “The district here is concerned about terrorism and the rise in crime, and I think they’ll prefer someone who has that kind of background and experience.”

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