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Special Report

The 2022 Midterms

Meet the Republican Taking on Nancy Pelosi in Her Home Turf

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November 6, 2022

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Special Report: The 2022 Midterms

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(SAN FRANCISCO) – Republicans all over the country run their campaigns against Nancy Pelosi. But only one member of the GOP is literally running against the current Democratic Speaker of the House: John Dennis, the chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party. 

He has run against Pelosi on and off since 2010, when he debuted with a campaign video showcasing Pelosi as the witch from “The Wizard of Oz.”

One would think being a consistent challenger of one of the most prominent Democrats in the country ought to bring Dennis more national attention. However, he is neither counted among flamethrowers such as Ted Cruz nor media-anointed “moderates” like Mitt Romney.

Dennis spoke via virtual chat with the Click from his home in San Francisco, which is half a mile away from Pelosi’s. He told us about his political leanings, his thoughts on former President Donald Trump’s denial of current President Joe Biden’s win, and his take on a recent altercation with protesters during a street cleanup.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

The Click: Let’s start with what you see as the top issues informing your campaign.

Dennis: Well, I’m for a much smaller government. Its function is to protect and preserve individual liberty, and as it gets larger, it tends to do the opposite. And right now, we’re facing a number of issues, like lockdowns and that sort of thing, which are terrible. 

I’m concerned about our involvement in unnecessary wars, whether directly or by funding them. If I were in Congress, my main goal would be to reduce the size of government, to prevent us from going into wars, to protect civil liberties, privacy, etc.

Is it fair to say you see yourself as a libertarian rather than a traditional Republican?

Yeah, I think I’m in that libertarian wing of the Republican party. It’s probably not the largest wing, but it has a sort of a rich tradition, going back to Barry Goldwater. Of course, there’s also Ron Paul and Rand Paul. I think we’re all in the same camp. I’m also the vice chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus [Editor’s note: RLC is a national political action group for Republican libertarians].

Noting that you mentioned civil liberties as one of your main issues, did you have reservations about supporting Trump?

I had reservations. I supported Trump; in a binary situation, it was an easy choice. I had a conversation with Senator Rand Paul in the summer of 2016, saying that I thought he should support Trump. He wasn’t feeling particularly good about Trump after the way he treated him during the primaries.

But the two things I like about Trump are that he generally has an anti-war instinct, and then he’s also made comments about supporting sound money, wanting to audit the Federal Reserve, which is an issue that I’m interested in. He never got around to doing it, but at least he supported the idea. I also felt like where Trump swayed me was his focus on the best possible outcome for America and Americans in the world as opposed to taking a more globalist point of view. And since that time, I’ve even sort of identified myself as a libertarian nationalist.

But now, having said that, I’ve been deeply disappointed in the amount of growth and spending in the federal government.

Let’s move on to the current day. Your party at the moment has been overtaken by what I would call a cult-like, mistaken belief that the 2020 election was stolen.

It’s funny because I’m in a Washington Post article that came out a couple of weeks ago, listing me as one of the 219 Republican candidates who are election deniers. Maybe because we promoted an event to see Dinesh D’Souza’s “2000 Mules.” Mind you, I hadn’t made a judgment about it, I just promoted the event. I thought it was interesting, and I thought there were some compelling things there that needed to be followed up by law enforcement. 

[Editor’s note: The 2022 film “2000 Mules” promotes a debunked theory that fraud in the 2020 election can be proven by examining location data gleaned from cell phone apps (“geolocations”) to show that ballots were illegally “harvested,” i.e., collected by traffickers.]

But there have been multiple debunkings of “2000 Mules,” not just on whether ballot harvesting is legal or not but also whether geolocation data is trustworthy. Geolocation only gets you within 100 feet of the ballot box, so the whole idea is faulty.

Here’s what could be looked into, though. In states where ballot harvesting was not allowed, there were people who showed up and put multiple ballots, on camera, into ballot boxes.

I consider Dinesh a friend. He’s been a speaker several times for the San Francisco Republican Party, and I think he is a generally good guy. At the same time, he’s someone who needs to be provocative to build and grow his business.

But I do think there is a deep skepticism throughout the Republican party about the outcome of that election.

Do you fault people like Dinesh D’Souza for that skepticism: people who raise questions without vetting them or deliberately making up theories that sound plausible but really aren’t?

I have skepticisms and concerns myself. I’m not a fan of extended periods for voting, to begin with. And then, when I look at the disparity between the candidates, Joe Biden as compared to Donald Trump. This is a guy who’s clearly diminished. There was no enthusiasm for Joe Biden as opposed to Trump. 

But people vote on negative partisanship all the time in this country. 

Yes, some “Never Trumpers” in the Republican party said to me, “I think it was legitimate because it was a referendum on Trump.” I don’t know.

But in the end, if I’d been in Congress, I would have voted to certify the election because the rules really don’t allow you to do what the Trump people were asking Congress to do. The outcome is what it is. I expect that there’s going to be some fraud, but at some point, you have to move on.

I appreciated seeing your Tweet about the attack on Paul Pelosi, Nancy’s husband because it was very unstinting. Why do you think a lot of national Republicans are unable to sound as forthright as you did?

[Editor’s note: Dennis had put out the following statement on Twitter on the day of the attack on Paul Pelosi: “An appalling act that deserves condemnation and contempt. No one has the right to violate another’s property, nor to initiate force on anyone else. The Pelosi’s are neighbors. My family and I wish a speedy recovery for Paul and swift justice for the assailant.”]

I don’t know. I will let them answer that for themselves.

Do you wish that your party would be more forthright in condemning such violence?

Well, I think it’s unfair to categorize a whole party. I mean, there were all of the national leaders, McConnell and McCarthy — they had similar responses to mine.

Okay. To go into local politics for a bit… 

Before we move on, let me just make a point. If you’ve been on my Twitter feed, you’ve seen the pinned Tweet that I have on there with the confrontation that I had with Antifa. 

[Editor’s note: The Tweet is a video of a protester, identified by right-wing outlet The Post Millennial as hip hop DJ and social worker Stefan Goldstone, confronting Dennis in San Francisco at a street cleaning organized by Republicans. There is no evidence that he is Antifa.]

One of my deep disappointments is that no one in the local media wanted to write about it. It took Andy Ngo [reporter for The Post Millennial] to write an article to explain what happened there.

We were there to do a clean-up, to point out that we live in, frankly, a dirty city. But the supervisor from that area, a guy by the name of Matt Haney [then Supervisor of District 6, where the event occurred], put a Tweet out and instigated those people to protest us for cleaning.

Screenshot of Matt Haney deleted tweet 2/1/2020

Screenshot of Matt Haney’s deleted tweet 2/1/2020

I get down there, and there’s 40 or 50 people screaming at us, flipping our canopies over, throwing our materials all over the place, and punching people. It was total chaos. If you think about it, what we had was an elected official effectively running goon squads out of City Hall. I mean, the [protester’s] ice-breaker with me was, “I want you dead!”

And if you ask me why I was so quick to condemn the Pelosi attack, it’s because, at some level, you have to think for yourself and understand that everyone has some humanity.

But do you really think Haney sent them there for that purpose? Or to protest, which would be fair?

Read the Tweet. It was dog-whistle language, but it was evident. He deleted it, but it was screenshotted. “Watch each other’s backs…” and all that sort of implication of violence. We were just there sweeping up, not bothering anybody.

So Haney tweets that out and gets caught doing it, and I brought it to all the local media, and not one of them wrote about it. The guy, Matt Haney, told people to go down there, they went down there, and it got out of hand. There’s a direct link between his request and the outcome. 

Would you say that that’s the same direct link between Trump’s Tweet asking people to “be wild” on January 6 at the Capitol rally and the attack that followed?

Well, to be fair, Trump was asked about this quite a bit by the media about the outcome there. People talk about it. In fact, the Democrats can’t stop talking about it. Not one journalist has asked Matt Haney a question about that. That’s my point.

Okay, we’ll leave it at that.

Thank you so much.

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