Can The Russians Take Palmdale?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Never surrender the high ground to your enemies. Which means we ought to be wary of what the Russians might want with the high desert city of Palmdale.

U.S. Rep. Katie Hill’s implosion and resignation have attracted a motley collection of potential candidates into the race. Among them is George Papadopoulos, who served the Russia-aided and Russia-penetrated presidential campaign of Donald Trump. He was eventually sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.

Papadopoulous has no ties to the district, and media reports indicated he was registered to vote at his mother’s place in Chicago. So it’s fair to be highly suspicious of his sudden interest in the seat. 

Perhaps his intentions are good. Perhaps he loves the orange color of the poppies at the state reserve. Perhaps he’s a masochist who has always wanted to battle traffic on the 14. 

Or it could be that someone in the constellation of Russia-backed conservative media and institutions put him up to it.

And you could see why. He will get some attention, and inject some conspiracy-minded garbage into the greater Los Angeles media market. That’s a nose under the California camel’s tent for Russia’s campaign to support racist and right-wing parties around the world.

It would be wise of Republicans to shun such a person. But it’s been a long time since anyone accused California Republicans of being wise.

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