Talking with GOP Chair Bobbi McGinnis

By Joanne A Calitri   |   April 12, 2022
Bobbi McGinnis is the current Chair of the Santa Barbara County GOP committee

Bobbi McGinnis is the current Chair of the Santa Barbara County GOP committee, a position she has had since 2019, after being its secretary and committee member since 2013. 

She is a first-generation U.S. born citizen. Her parents moved to the U.S. from England in 1949, choosing Santa Barbara as their new home, with her dad working at Vandenberg Space Force Base in aerospace and then his own business. Growing up and going to school locally, she became a realtor in 1977, along with working in property management. In our interview she talks about how she was a John F. Kennedy Democrat in her 20s. After having her own family, and owning a home in her 30s, she said she realized the heavy taxes and government regulations no longer served to support young families, and she changed to the Republican party for its values. “Government regulation is so heavy handed on us; we can’t prosper; we can’t afford the same opportunities we once had to create our individual American dreams,” McGinnis said. “I want my kids and everyone who is a legal citizen of the U.S. to have the equal opportunity to go after your dream, to be successful, to afford to have the life you make for yourself without having so much money taken out of our work’s earnings through state and local taxes, paying higher prices for gasoline in California, heating our homes, food, and other commodities.” Here is our interview:

Q. What are the key issues facing California state and locally?

A. Since Biden took office, housing in Santa Barbara skyrocketed and shows no sign of softening. During COVID lockdown, many people from tighter controlled cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles moved here and it has accentuated our housing shortage. 

During the Trump Administration, we were energy independent. Biden’s Administration has shut down our own oil production and forced the U.S. to buy oil from other countries and foreign dictators. Gasoline prices affect everything in our lives, from going to work, bringing our kids to school, the supply chain, and more. On March 14, we lost the vote at the state level to suspend the gasoline tax to decrease the price by 60 cents per gallon, with “Gas Tax Holiday,” like other states are doing, to provide financial relief to our citizens. We pay more for gas than any other state. Even Elon Musk has told Biden to free up energy: “Hate to say it but we need to increase oil and gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.” [Twitter March 4, 2022]

The cleanest oil production is in Santa Barbara County, because we have our county energy policy, and the strictest rules and regulations for oil drilling, and the lowest carbon emission levels. People want clean air and clean water, but shutting down the infrastructure of our country before it’s ready to go to green energy is financial suicide. Natural gas, which heats our homes, is going to be shut off in California, making it more expensive to build and heat housing and commercial buildings. Our standard of living is being affected from commuting to work and buying food. Many businesses are not able to get workers and are losing income as a result of it. The middle and lower classes, the poor, and even the wealthy are feeling the impact. 

All this makes it less and less affordable to live in California, and 18,000 businesses have left in the past two years, along with a million in population, and we lost a seat in Congress [writer’s note: the first time in the history of California that it’s population decreased]. We have the highest homeless rate and poverty rate in the nation. There is a bipartisan bill making its way through the state legislature to address homelessness. It includes a mental health component as well as housing. There are basically three types of homeless:

  1. People who have lost their jobs and don’t have enough resources through unemployment to meet their needs.
  2. Addiction to drugs or alcohol who need rehabilitation programs.
  3. Those that chose to live on the streets rather than work.

The bipartisan legislation is to address these issues. Based on the premise that the individual with the right assistance will get off the streets. Providing free housing is a temporary fix. As the Chinese proverb says, “Feed a man fish, he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” 

The question is: “Are you better off now than you were one and a half years ago when Biden took office? Although unemployment in California has dropped to 5.4% in February 2022 compared to 8.6% in February 2021, we still have not achieved the low unemployment of the Trump administration. Most of the jobs have come from the hospitality sector that was crushed during the pandemic.

What is your 2022 goal as GOP Chair?

My goal as GOP Chair is to re-establish a two-party system that will bring the checks and balances back into our government. And for Republicans to be ok to be Republicans, and not be a target or their businesses hurt because of their political party. Our biggest concern is Republicans not getting out and voting. Right now we have 59K registered Republicans and I am hoping we can get to 75K by November. Like Sacramento and Orange County, Republican volunteers are at the gasoline pumps campaigning for lower gas prices by voting and registering Republican.

What changes in our political party system in California have been happening? (Twenty of 38 former California governors were Republican.)

California does not have a two-party system anymore. Moderate Democrats don’t recognize the Democratic party anymore because it’s become so radically left since the 1980s. Schwarzenegger was the last Republican we had as governor, and that was a long time ago. [Term 2003-2011.] In the recent recall election, over four million Republicans did not vote because they thought the race was already over by the way the news media reported it, and voter fraud issues. The wind has been taken out of a lot of people since that happened. We have an election integrity project as part of our Santa Barbara County GOP function. We are examining California voter roles, which are bloated. 

My message to our constituents in the county is that our elections office has people of integrity there, they are doing a good job, it’s just that we have these crazy rules and regulations like same-day registration, and there is no way the elections office can verify if someone is a U.S. citizen or not; it’s based on the honor system. There’s no photo ID so they can be 100% sure the person is who they say they are.

Which candidates is the Santa Barbara County GOP endorsing for 2022?

Locally at the top of the ticket we have Dr. Brad Allen, our only Republican candidate for 24th Congressional district running against Salud Carbajal. He is a pediatric cardiac surgeon, currently living in Summerland, and was recruited through our Regional Vice Chair. He wants doctors to be able to be doctors, supports individual choice in health care, and for parents to decide about the health care for their children. He supports private health care companies for private individuals and federal health care for those who do not have health insurance. We have a few conservatives as well for the 24th district.

Mike Stoker, former two-time Santa Barbara County Supervisor for the 2nd and 5th districts, and Area 9 EPA Regional Director [term 2018-2020], against current Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart. Stoker served as president in the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, the Santa Barbara County Association of Government, and the Santa Barbara Water Agency and Flood Control District. Pro-business, pro-police, and pro-sheriff’s department. He is our security and safety candidate. He wants parents to have control over the educational curriculum. 

Bill Brown, going for his 5th term as Santa Barbara County Sheriff. Security is important to him, and he has a “Project Opioid” in the works to help people with the addiction. Brown is running against Juan Camarena [prior Republican, now No Party Candidate] who is a social justice candidate, a very fine man, well intentioned. We’ve seen social ambassadors in Santa Barbara, and funds have been taken out of the police department and moved to the social ambassador program, and it has not worked out well. We have more homeless and more crime than before due to defunding our police. We can’t afford to go the route of San Francisco, where police are not allowed to be police.

Our state endorsements are: Mark Meuser for U.S. Senate; Eric Early for California Attorney General; and Lanhee Chen for California Controller. For governor we are waiting to find out who emerges at the California GOP convention.  



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