Election ’14: Tufi joins Congressional race

Courtesy Photo. Phillip Tufi

Just as he did when he ran for a State Assembly seat in 2012, Phillip Tufi said he has a businesslike focus with his Congressional campaign.

The Rosemont resident is one of six candidates including incumbent U.S. Rep. Dr. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) who are running for the 7th Congressional District seat.

“One of the things that motivated me to get involved in the first place is friends who are business owners who needed relief from the tax burden,” the independent candidate said. “My goal is to create more taxpayers, people who can afford to pay taxes because they have high-paying jobs.”

He added, “To fix some of the issues that we have here, we need people with good paying jobs, not just jobs.”

Tufi said work on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge resulted in recruiting welders to that area. But he said there are local people with master’s degrees at jobs that pay $10 an hour.

He said there are other similarities behind his approaches to the two campaigns. Tufi said legislation at the state capital and the nation’s capital could have an equal impact on people, and both levels of government discuss issues including water, the economy, and jobs.

Even the districts are somewhat similar. The 8th Assembly District is located entirely in Sacramento County, and includes the Vineyard and Wilton areas. The federal district is similar in shape but includes Elk Grove and Folsom.

Tufi didn’t accept campaign funds for his 2012 race, and the Union Pacific Railroad employee is again spending his own money on his current campaign.

But for Tufi, there is one major difference. He ran for Assembly as a Republican but opted for No Party Preference in his current race.

“I realized that I don’t think it matters what party you’re in,” he said. “By putting in someone who is not part of one of the two fraternities tells Washington, ‘You’re not guaranteed because you’re a Democrat or a Republican.’”

Tufi said the benefit of having “No Party Preference” on the ballot is that he could consciously vote without feeling pressure from a particular party.

“Ami Bera, who I respect very much, has changed a little bit,” he said. “His position on Obamacare goes against the Democratic Party. But why does he have to be in that position, that he has to change because of his party?”

Tufi said he learned since the last election that the community generally has a “detachment” from politics.

“It’s an ‘us and them’ philosophy,” he said. “People don’t realize or feel that they’re a part of our political process when they’re absolutely essential.”

The candidate said he is hoping for another major difference between the races. In 2012, he finished last among six candidates.

Tufi has a background in global economics and international business relations. He spent about half of the 1990s in Russia working to help American companies including Pizza Hut establish a presence in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

He speaks fluent Spanish and Russian, and his Ukrainian wife speaks five languages and is a linguist.

The top two candidates in the June 3 election, regardless of party affiliation, will face off in November.