By Taylor Boyd
Sergio De la Peña, a gubernatorial hopeful, campaigned in Stuart at a Mar. 9 meeting of the Patrick County Republican Committee.
De La Peña, who has never held political office before, said he was inspired to run to protect the American Dream.
“Virginia is the appraisal of the American experiment that has provided the greatest good for the world in the history of humanity. That’s no exaggeration, that’s what Virginia is all about. Virginia is the birthplace of the American Dream, and that’s the dream that I’ve lived,” he said.
De la Peña was born in Mexico in a house with dirt floors and no running water. He legally immigrated to the United States when he was five years old with his mother and his brothers.
“My father was already here. He was working as a farmer, as a farm worker, and as a cowboy,” he said.
When he was 10 years old, De la Peña started picking cotton.
“Between the time I started picking cotton and the time I joined the Army, I had 20 different part-time jobs, and that included working at a lumber yard, working as a welder, working on a drilling rig exploring for uranium. So, I know what it is to get dirty and have to do the work that it takes to put the daily bread on the table, or at least help my mom and my dad do that,” he said.
De la Peña joined the Army and completed Rangers School before serving for 30 years. He started his military career stationed in Germany during the Cold War.
“Our position was to defend against a Soviet attack of Western Europe that also included the possibility of nuclear weapons, because we were fighting against communists and socialists and that was our mission set and that was what we did,” he said.
De la Peña served as the Army Attaché in Venezuela when he was a lieutenant colonel and monitored the election of Hugo Chavez.
“I saw what one individual with ill intent can do to an entire country. Venezuela went from being one of the most prosperous countries in the world to the mess that it is today. That’s what happened when you use that type of ideology,” he said.
“What I learned out of all of that is that you got to be vigilant, you got to be willing to stand up for what those principles are because the United States is the one place in the world that affords you the opportunity to start with nothing and go to something significantly better,” he said.
He said the “bad ideas” in Venezuela are now being promoted in Richmond by the Democratic leadership.
“In Virginia, those bad ideas have become what they’re testing on the national level. Look at what we’re doing right now with the Green New Deal, the Virginia Values Act, the Second Amendment. These are all things that should concern all of us,” he said.
De la Peña said he became concerned over the direction of politics during Donald Trump’s campaign, and decided to join his campaign to help him win over Hispanic voters.
“We got 29 percent of the Hispanic vote, which hasn’t been in a long time,” he said.
He said one reason the Republican Party doesn’t win in Northern Virginia is because the party doesn’t reach out to the immigrant communities there.
“There’s plenty of immigrant communities in Northern Virginia who are having second thoughts about what the Democrats are doing to them because they want you to be dependent on government, they want you to take the handouts, because they want to control you. I can talk to those communities. I can talk to those communities in Spanish like I did with President Trump,” De la Peña said.
He said he is also able to reach out to the more rural areas of Virginia and connect with voters there.
“I have worked in those fields, I’ve operated that heavy equipment, I am that tractor driver, I am that guy that works in the lumber yard, I’m also that guy that’s been that soldier,” he said.
Taxes & Spending
“Virginia’s taxes are too high,” De la Peña said. He said he is in favor of cutting the car tax, property tax, and income taxes.
“Richmond politicians spend” too much “on pet projects while demanding hard-working Virginians pay higher taxes for special interest giveaways,” De la Peña said.
As a military veteran and gun owner, De la Peña strongly supports the right to bear arms. He said he would fight to end local jurisdictions’ ability to override conceal carry laws so Virginia’s concealed carry laws would apply statewide for all gun owners and protect their rights.
When De la Peña immigrated to the United States, he did so legally and learned English and assimilated. He said he supports building a wall to stop illegal immigration and making English the official language of the county. de la Peña said that if elected, he would “eliminate taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants in Virginia like in-state college tuition and drivers’ licenses for illegals.”
Sergio De la Peña campaigned in Stuart on March 9.