Farmers from California’s Central Valley invested big time in Donald Trump, and soon the president-elect could repay the debt.
During a Tulare County campaign event in late August that raised an estimated $1.3 million, Trump heard about the farmers’ need for water, among other issues. As president, he’ll appoint the people who can turn the taps, at least a little.
“The good thing is, he is more up to speed on water infrastructure than any other president we’ve had,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, said in an interview Wednesday. “Out here, everything is water, water, water.”
As one of the organizers of the Tulare County fundraiser, and as chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Nunes could be one of the Californians who have the ear of the future Trump administration.
There will be other Californians, too, who get their phone calls returned, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the number two Republican in the House of Representatives, who served as one of Trump’s convention delegates.
The California lawmakers and other influential players like them could all help steer the new administration and next year’s Republican-controlled Congress in ways important to a state where only 33 percent of voters supported Trump.
The impact could start with the 4,000 or so appointed positions that must be filled. They range from the commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, who oversees Western irrigation programs, to the director of the National Park Service, who is responsible for Yosemite National Park and other treasures.
The Trump effect will be further extended to California through budget decisions. The state’s defense and aerospace industry, for instance, could see gains under Trump’s call for “rebuilding” the U.S. military.
“We’re going to have to invest in our military,” Nunes said.
Other Trump impacts incite skepticism if not outright dread. California Gov. Jerry Brown, contemplating the possibility earlier this year that Trump might win the presidency, joked about the state’s response.
“We’d have to build a wall around California to defend ourselves from the rest of this country,” Brown said.
Trump’s hard-line immigration pledges, including an increase in deportations and construction of a border wall with Mexico, would, for instance, have a disproportionate impact on California. The state is home to an estimated 2.67 million immigrants who are in the country illegally.
“California is the home of more immigrants than any other state in the country” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell Law School. “People in California who are undocumented will probably have a higher risk of being thrown into deportation proceedings under President Trump.”
That won’t happen right away, Yale-Loehr said, as there is already a massive deportation case backlog in federal immigration court. The government would have to hire a lot more immigration judges to step up deportations.
Along with roundup costs, large-scale deportations would disrupt California’s agricultural industry. More immediately Trump could follow through on his pledge to kill President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.
“A lot of those people would be in California, so those people should be thinking now about what their options are,” Yale-Loehr said.
Trump will have a gigantic impact on trade in California, which exported $165 billion worth of goods and services in 2015. He has mercilessly bashed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive proposed trade deal with Asia that California business interests argue would open new markets and create jobs in the Golden State.
“There is no chance that the TPP will be implemented over the next four years without the deal first being reopened and revised to reflect terms desired by President Trump,” said Dan Ikenson, director of trade studies at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank in Washington.
Exactly what Trump’s desired trade terms will be isn’t clear.
“I don’t think anybody really can say. He’s an absolute wild card,” said Scott Kennedy, director of the project on Chinese business and political economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Many Californians aren’t taking the prospect of a Trump presidency lightly, with #CalExit becoming a trending topic on Twitter among those suggesting the state’s best course would be to break away from the U.S.
Silicon Valley took the news of Trump’s victory hard, with venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar tweeting that he would fund a campaign for California to become its own nation.