Musician Peter Frampton, who lives in a predominantly Republican suburb outside of Cincinnati, recently put a surveillance camera in his yard because he’s tired of getting his Obama poster stolen. In west Reno, McCain supporters keep having to replace their stolen or vandalized signs.
But, perhaps no where is it dicier to be a Republican than in San Francisco’s Mission District, the San Francisco Chronicle recently named, the most liberal district in the country after looking at how Mission residents voted on some 20 propositions. Here, only 11 percent of the residents are registered Republican, the rest are registered Democrats, Greens and Independent.
Enter, Raúl Barraza, 66, an immigrant from Durango, Mexico whose love for the Republican Party can be ascribed to many things, but may also be partly attributed to Barraza’s admiration for the former President Ronald Reagan. It was in the Reagan Era that Barraza became a legal resident and then ten years ago, he became a citizen and made his political preferences official—Republican.
“I have the Republicans in my heart,” Barraza said smiling. The Republicans care about the country and give opportunity to the working people and put all the bad people in jail.”
So as this election got underway, Barraza went to see the San Francisco Republican Party’s Vice Chairman for Communications, Leonard Lacayo, to pick up a McCain sign. The next day, he said, someone left a belt buckle with a star on it. He likes to think that it’s because as the only Republican on the block, he’s like a lone star, he said.
“I told my Dad not to put it up,” Barraza’s son Andres, said referring to the poster. “I was going to put an Obama sign next to it to show that not everyone in the house votes McCain but I haven’t had the time.”
Soon after, Barraza received a note written on the back of someone’s resume. Addressed to McCain supporters, it read: “You are very rude. Think about it, you live in an alley in the Mission.”
The letter was signed “A concerned citizen.”
Barraza reported the note to the local Republican party but he said he doesn’t worry about other things happening.
“It’s something for babies, it’s just a sign,” said Barraza who first came to this country when he was 18. “It’s good to discuss politics, to learn but not to fight.”
Barraza’s son said some of their young neighbors talk about them as they walk by their house. They point to the sign. He wonders if they’re the ones who put the note.
Lacayo said he’s unconcerned about the argument escalating. “The violence is less now than it was four years ago,” he said.
But promoting the Republican party in San Francisco isn’t always easy. Recently, Lacayo said, a Republican volunteer waving a McCain-Palin sign was asked to leave Church and Market streets by the police.
“You have to be very brave to put a bumper sticker on your car,” Lacayo said adding that during the last presidential elections cars donning George W. Bush stickers often got keyed.
Barraza said he won’t stop showing—or singing– his colors.
The 66 year-old, who opened one of the first taquerías in the Mission, Las Gaviotas de Mazatlán, likes to share his love of the Republican party through poems and songs. He titled one “The miracle of McCain.” He’s won awards at the Festival de la Canción Latinoamericano that he displays in his living room.
“My dad is in the wrong city,” Barraza’s son said smiling.
“We don’t have glass windows so it won’t break if they throw a brick,” he added.
If anyone tries to remove the sign, Barraza offered a solution that made him laugh.
“If they take it off, I’ll put it on my back.”