Antonio Sabato Jr. is an Italian-American actor with Jewish roots who is best known for his role as a Calvin Klein model and in the television shows “Melrose Place” and “General Hospital.” He is now running for Congress in the Ventura County area against Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) after speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Sabato Jr. talked to the Journal in a phone interview and discussed the campaign as well as the fires plaguing Los Angeles. The article has been edited for clarity.
Jewish Journal: Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you decided to run for Congress.
Antonio Sabato Jr.: I am an immigrant. Me and my family moved to the United States in 1985 from Rome, Italy. My mother was born in Prague, and she escaped the Communist Party and her mother escaped the Holocaust in World War II and the Nazi Party. So we know about socialism and communism very well and we don’t want to anything to do with it.
In the ‘80s we decided that the family wanted to move to this country and have a better life for me and my sister. My parents just wanted the best for us. We went to school here, learned the language… at a young age I wanted to pursue career of acting – my father was an actor, and that’s what I wanted to do. So we struggled and put in a lot of time and effort and it all worked out, so I’m very thankful for this country and what it’s done for me and my family.
JJ: So what made you want to run for Congress?
ASJ: Over the last decade I’ve seen the government take advantage of the American people. I believe that this is the greatest country in the world and we owe it to our country, and we have great laws, a great history… I’ve seen this country deteriorate in the wrong direction with a lot of socialism and liberals have this propaganda to change people’s minds on what this country is all about. I just wanted to put my consent, wanted to fight for my county that I live in, I lived in Ventura County for over 13 years and I love it. The congresswoman who has been representing us for six years has not done anything for the county. On the other hand, she’s been able to build policies like AB 109, Prop 47, 57 that have been a danger in our communities and definitely making it a lot harder for police officers to do their job.
I want to work for farmers, I want to work for the teachers, I want to be able to see if we can get more funding for our police stations and our schools that need more funding. Farmers need to be helped with regulations and a much better visa program that’s going to allow workers come here in more of a humane fashion. I just want to be able to give farmers and everyone in my community a chance to do better: to open up business and to be pro-business, to be pro-military. I’m pro-Second Amendment. I believe we do need the wall on our border and we need to reform our immigration system altogether because it’s definitely not working. I want to add to the solution, I don’t want to keep watching this. I believe that my country means that much to me, so that’s why I’m in it.
JJ: You talked about how the country is deteriorating, what are some examples of that?
ASJ: Food stamps. Unemployment. We live in a society right now where everything is entitlements: if I have a problem, I need the government to come and fix it for me. We are able to fix it for ourselves. We should only be able to go to government to get more for our community, to get more for our state, to get more for our country. At the end of the day, I want the government to make it easier for me to go to work and get a job and pay my own bills. So instead of getting less government, we got the biggest government under Obama for eight years. Our military was deteriorating, our country as a unit, as a light, a beacon for everyone to dream big, was going away. We were always apologizing for everything, we were always saying we’re not as big as we’re used to, we need to make our country smaller and equal like everyone else. We can’t allow that to happen. Our country need to be first and foremost there to help and be the greatest country in the world because that’s what America’s all about. We’re not like every other country in the world, I’m sorry. This is the country is the place that everyone wants to come to and create their dreams and have a better way of life. There’s not many places in the world where you can do that. I’m sick of apologizing. We’re still there in every country in the world protecting them, taking care of them, we should be appreciated and respected because anytime there’s a problem we’re always there.
Finally, we have a president who’s not apologizing, who’s pretty much saying how it is. We want our country back, we want things to be made in America, we want to show respect for our flag and respect for our country. I’m glad we’re heading in the right direction. The stock market is better than it ever was, unemployment is as low as it’s ever been, these are things that are related to the way that our president is attacking all the issues and problems and he is succeeding. I want to do the same thing for my county. My county needs me. The farmers need me. The police stations need revamping. We need to find the money to give the police officers everything they need. We need more police officers. We need to have more respect for our teachers and police officers and just our country. I want to represent our county and I want to be available to everyone. For example, we have been going through a lot of fires, a lot of turmoil, hundreds of thousands of acres and a lot of homes have been lost. I was there at the shelters. I was there bringing food, I was there helping supplies and bringing food for our police officers and our firefighters. That’s the kind of congressman that I want to be, so I’m dedicating 24 hours a day seven days a week to become that congressman and help my community in any way shape or form.
I ask everyone to listen: liberal Democrats have been running the state, have been running this county for almost six years, what have they done for you? When was the last time you were able to call Congresswoman Miss Julia Santa Monica Brownley to come and then talk to you? When was the last time she picked up the phone and call you back? She lives in Santa Monica. Her productivity level in Washington D.C. is about a zero in almost six years. I want to do more. I think my family deserves more, deserves 100% from their congressman or congresswoman.
JJ: Being an actor you talk about how you think you’ve been blackballed as a conservative, I was hoping you could talk about that a little bit.
ASJ: It’s their way of bullying someone. They have the decision to say we’re going to hire you, we’re going to represent you, or we’re not. They have this hate. I believe liberals in Hollywood want to be right about everything, they lost a big race with Hillary Clinton and they’re going to hold this grudge for a long time. I’m going to keep working with people who want to work with me, and it shouldn’t be about politics or parties. You should be able to like or dislike any parties you want or no parties at all. But that’s not the case. I’ve dealt with it for quite some time now. It is what it is, but I’m going to fight for it because I don’t like bullies, I don’t like people telling me I shouldn’t do something. I can do whatever I want if I’m not hurting anyone. I’m a law-abiding citizen and I should be doing what I like and it’s right for me. I urge everyone out there who’s a conservative in Hollywood to step up. Come to voteantonio.com. Join this race, which is a race that’s going to take us all over country. We need this seat in Ventura County District 26 to be red again.
JJ: And how exactly do you plan on making it red again?
ASJ: I’m going to talk to the people and knock on the doors. Those are the voters. The voters of my community are the ones that got to get to know me. We got to have everything in sync, we got to be on the same level, we got to understand each other, understand me, ask the questions. I’m going to go door-to-door. That’s how I’m going to win. The last three races, those are pretty much low-turning voting with a 110-111,000 people voted. I figure if I go to 200,000 homes and I knock on 200,000 doors then I’m going to get their votes and that’s what I’m planning on doing.
And I’m going to talk to my Latino community. I speak Spanish. I understand what they’re going through, I’m an immigrant like they are. Liberal Democrats haven’t done much for the Latino communities. All they do is promises and promises and that’s not been working out too well. I believe in my core that a Latino family, a Latino community to the core is conservative. They go to church, they believe in God, they’re family-oriented and they love this country. They just have to find somebody who they can talk to and ask questions. Family members, that’s all they care about: they want to have their family protected and they want to be able to know they’re going to go to work and work hard for their families, so I’m going to talk to them and I’m going to talk to everybody. I’ve been talking to pretty much everybody and everybody has an option to call me and ask me questions. Like I said, this is the guy I want to be, the leader I want to be is someone you can talk to anytime.