Paul Martin, a Republican in the Kitchen
Here are four ways of looking at Paul Martin as the Alan Alda of Republicans.
First, he is married with five children ages 16, 17, 18, 19, and 22. Just imagine that.
Second, he has an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree in Philosophical Ethics.
Third, he is a former pastor, and founder of an organization called the Christian Muslim Alliance, whose vision is to end the division between the two largest religions in the world.
Four, the last line of his bio reads, “Paul is an avid cook, reader, bass player, and Bikram yoga enthusiast.”
Every once in a while on our year-long tour of America’s Congressional districts we meet a Republican we really like. This one also cooks, so he has earned himself a Midpod blog post.
Martin is running for U.S. House of Representatives in California’s 48th Congressional District. Dana Rohrabacher is the incumbent. Scott Baugh is the other Republican running. For more details there, listen to episode 30 of the MidPod. The ballot situation is crazy.
We interviewed Martin in an Orange County co-working space. He told us he’s been a Republican since he voted for Ronald Reagan in 1983, and has never swerved, but in 2016 he wrote-in John Kasich. Martin describes himself as a raging centrist.
“I’m running on a message of you don’t have to join the Democratic Party to be someone who cares about immigrants, or refugees or minorities. I’m the space between the republicans and the democrats in a purple district.”
He’s sad for his party, sad that the Democrats seem to have cornered the market on virtue, sad that there seems to be no place in the Republican Party for candidates who care about immigrants, racism, the environment and gun control. Moms Demand Action distinguished him for his NO #NRA MONEY candidate pledge.
“Humanitarian issues have been very important to me. I’ve spent much of my career involved in Christian causes. I started an at-risk youth organization here. I’ve worked for the March of Dimes. I worked for a local homeless organization here because homelessness is so important in this district.”
Martin says he’s a Republican pressed from the Nelson Rockefeller, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and John Kasich molds, fiscal conservatives who actually care about the environment and people.
The good news is that there are more Republicans like Martin.
“Just yesterday I was with Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kasich,” Martin told us. “They’ve started a group called #NewWay.”
Martin told us the most powerful thing he heard in this room full of socially progressive republicans was from Governor Schwarzenegger, who said, “It’s going to take a long time for our ideas - like diversity - to make it into the main platform. Trust me, two-three decades ago I was telling people that weightlifting was important to the human body, and people thought I was crazy. Now you can’t go into a hotel anywhere and not see a set of weights in the gym.”
Mostly, Martin is laser-focused on Russian interference in the U.S. election, so much that he attended PutinCon in March, a day long, live-streamed seminar sponsored by Human Rights Foundation, with international experts addressing the Russian president’s threat to American and global security. PutinCon needed to be held in an undisclosed location because so many people attending are on Putin’s hit list, including the chess champion and pro-democracy leader Garry Kasparov and major supporter of the Magnitsky Act, Bill Browder.
Martin said of the event, which was held a few days before the Russian election, “I thought my eyes were open before; they were opened a lot more by this event. - I mean, you listen to U2 in the car, and then you go to a U2 concert, and you say, ‘man, this is real.’ These are people whose lives are literally in danger. They have to be careful what they drink. Putin exterminates his enemies. The people there who are on his list of next victims was chilling.”
About the incumbent Martin says, “Rohrabacher is unfit and unqualified, and he has violated the oath of congress. He is unashamedly for Russia and Vladimir Putin. He’s been sanctioned and censured by House republicans. In the best case he’s completely and utter distracted from the issues here. Worst case he is defending the greatest threat to our country, a man with the most despicable human rights violations.”
Martin even has a podcast! - Called “WhyPartisan,” it features this lifelong Republican and “enthusiastic Democrat” Kristen Howerton in civil conversation. On Trump, Martin mostly says, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Martin says, “I don’t see how any woman can be a Trump supporter. It keeps me up at night to think that a woman could be a Trump supporter. As a Christian, and former pastor, that any person could say they follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and be a Trump supporter - I’ve heard all the excuses - from he’s a baby Christian to policy matters, not what people say - we know that is simply a bunch of noise and enabling.”
And he cooks. I told you. He’s even better than Alan Alda.
As I was writing this, Martin was preparing for a weekend fundraiser Mediterranean meal. Martin says he learned to cook from his Umbrian immigrant mother, who never measured. He offered us this recipe adapted from his mother’s collection.
Paul Martin’s Umbrian Chicken
Martin’s notes: Never use a non-stick pan; deglazing is very important to the flavor of this one. Purchase the best ingredients you can afford. It matters. I never use boneless skinless chicken, because the flavor isn’t as good. You can remove the skin and bones after you have cooked the chicken if you have time.
1 pound fettuccine or broad noodles.
2 chicken breast (2 lobes) bone-in
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup loosely chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped (not fine) garlic
4 sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), about 1/3 cup, loosely chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms (shitake would be great in this)
1 cup red wine
1 yellow or red pepper, sliced into lengths
Pecorino or other sharp cheese for grating
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Prepare pasta as you would.
Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides.
Bring a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add oil and heat. Lay chicken breasts into the pan carefully, and cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until they are well browned.
Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and lower heat to medium. Cook, pushing everything gently around in the pan, or 3 minutes or until the onions begin to let off liquid and appear golden. Raise heat again to high, and add sundried tomatoes and mushrooms. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until things really begin to brown. Watch carefully.
Add the red wine. Lower heat to medium. Stirring to deglaze, cook for 5 more minutes. Add the yellow pepper, and continue to cook and toss for 3-5 more minutes. The dish should not be soupy, but thick and well browned.
Remove the chicken breasts, and slice them into ½” pieces. Return to the sauce, and heat just to warm and toss the pieces together. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.