Capitol Alert

Republican Scott Jones says abandoning Donald Trump ‘may cost me the election’

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who is challenging Rep. Ami Bera for a toss-up congressional seat, talks with the Sacramento Bee’s Editorial Board on Monday.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who is challenging Rep. Ami Bera for a toss-up congressional seat, talks with the Sacramento Bee’s Editorial Board on Monday. lsterling@sacbee.com

Republican Scott Jones, a congressional challenger who renounced his support for Donald Trump after release of a video showing the GOP presidential nominee talking about women in vulgar terms, predicted Monday that his defection “may cost me the election.”

Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff running to unseat Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove in the mostly suburban 7th Congressional District, said he made the break with Trump after sitting down Friday and reviewing the entirety of the nominee’s exchange with Billy Bush from 2005.

Jones said some in his inner circle advised him against the move, predicting “it’s going to be horrible.” “I think at the end of the day the best advice I received is ‘You have to do what’s right for you,’ meaning me, and that’s exactly what I did,” he told The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board on Monday.

In a statement he released Saturday, Jones argued that Trump’s stated conduct was “at best disgusting, and at worst criminal.” Jones said he could no longer explain to his two daughters why he was voting for Trump, and as such, would not be voting for either presidential candidate next month.

On Monday, Jones stressed his decision had nothing to do with outside forces, including increasing pressure from Bera, who has sought to link Jones to Trump.

“For anybody to assert that I am doing this political reasons, or to be politically correct, or because I am bowing to pressure from the Democratic Party or Congressman Bera, it’s absolutely foolish, Jones said, adding, “To say that I am doing it do some sort of benefit to my campaign is extremely misguided.”

Still, Bera in a prepared statement later Monday questioned Jones’ timing, and his sincerity.

“If Scott Jones had any courage, he would have dropped Donald Trump before Republican Party bosses gave candidates permission to do so over the weekend,” the congressman said. “Jones stood with Trump while he attacked a gold star family, after he made fun of a disabled American, and after every other sexist remark he’s made. Give me a break.”

Jones said his campaign polled voters in the district about Trump against Clinton beginning in August and last week, though not recently enough to reflect release of the tape Friday. While Trump has trailed Clinton in each of Jones’ surveys, he said, the margin as varied little and falls roughly along the district’s partisan lines. Registered Democrats hold a slim advantage over Republicans in the 7th District.

He suggested, “There are ardent Donald Trump supporters that will likely fall off, or choose not to vote” for Jones.

“It will cost me votes. This will cost me votes. How many? Or, if it’s enough (for him to lose the election), will remain to be seen.”

Asked if he was bothered by Trump’s threats to seek prison time for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton should he win, Jones dismissed the debate remarks as “political rhetoric.”

Jones said he believes Clinton has gotten away with “illegal conduct” for destroying emails her attorneys considered personal.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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