Column: I know who Trump should pick for VP — and she's right here in O.C.


So you’re Donald Trump, you’re the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and you’re salivating to return to the White House.

There’s a big issue you need to address soon — you know, besides the indictments, the $83.5 million you owe in a defamation lawsuit, your floundering Truth Social network and the fact that you didn’t win the popular vote in your previous two elections.

Besides all that? You need to find the perfect vice presidential candidate.

You need someone who has a large ego but will be obsequious. Someone who’ll appeal to your base yet can cross over and grab other voters. Whose reservoir of resentment against liberalism is as wide and deep as yours. A parrot with talons like an eagle and the hard head of a cassowary.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene? Too wacky. U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas? Smarter and better-looking than you, so that won’t work. NFL quarterback and arch-pandejo Aaron Rodgers? Robert F. Kennedy Jr. already asked. Your daughter Ivanka? If only!

No, the person you should choose is on no one’s radar except mine. It’s such a perfect choice that I’m loath to even write out my thoughts lest they manifest like a political version of Beetlejuice. So if it happens, gentle readers, don’t blame me — but here it goes:

Donald Trump should pick Huntington Beach Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark as his #2.

Never heard of her, gentle readers? Yeah, you have. In the year and a half since she was elected to the City Council, Van Der Mark and three other Republican council members — along with city attorney and fellow traveler Michael Gates — have made national headlines by transforming laid-back Surf City into a grievance-filled swamp standing athwart blue California.

Last year, they offered no real explanation for stripping the kumbaya-leaning Huntington Beach Interfaith Committee of its decades-long privilege to pick who would give an invocation before meetings. They demanded that city librarians reclassify children’s and young adult books mentioning private parts and pooping as suitable only for adults and created a citizen’s commission to review all children’s books for potentially offensive content. They nearly stopped recognizing Black History Month until realizing that was a step too far.

All of this was prelude to the recent primary election, when Huntington Beach voters passed two controversial measures. One requires voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot, which California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta has said he will fight in court. Another requires future councils to unanimously approve the raising of flags, other than government or military flags, on city property — a continuation of the council’s action last year that effectively banned the flying of the Pride flag.

H.B.’s council majority has been so noxious and revanchist that some former mayors, Republicans and Democrats alike, have united to try and stop their influence. But other local conservatives are raring to go after the three remaining Democrats on the council this fall.

Van Der Mark is not the mastermind of what’s going on in Surf City — but she is its figurehead, with a resume tailor made for MAGA Land.

She first achieved local notoriety in 2017 for hanging out with Proud Boys at protests. After one protest, she posted now-deleted YouTube comments calling minorities who attended an anti-racism workshop “colored people” instructed by “elderly Jewish people.” Such remarks got her booted from two school district civilian committees and helped torpedo her bids for the Ocean View school board in 2018 and the Huntington Beach City Council in 2020.

Instead of slinking back into her hate hole, Van Der Mark followed the Trump manual for victory. She internalized the insults, sharpened her rhetoric — and waited.

She was a finalist to replace UFC legend Tito Ortiz when he stepped down from the Huntington Beach City Council in 2021. By then, Surf City had lurched closer to Van Der Mark’s red worldview. It became ground zero for resisting masking mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gates, the city attorney, went to court to fight California over everything from building more housing to sanctuary state policies. Van Der Mark and three other Republicans ran as a slate in 2022 and overthrew H.B.’s liberal Democratic majority, with Gates also reelected on the slate.

Ever since, it’s been chaos and division in the name of owning wokism — par for the course for Trump’s prospective VP candidates. But here’s what will really get his attention. Despite a name out of a Washington Irving short story, Gracey Van Der Mark is actually Latina.

She was born Gricelda Larrea to Ecuadorean and Mexican immigrants, grew up in Southeast Los Angeles County and speaks Spanish. With polls showing Latinos across the country moving toward Trump like never before, a running mate like Van Der Mark would help him fend off accusations of racism and peel off more Latino voters from Joe Biden.

One thing I’ve learned in years of covering Van Der Mark’s rise is to not underestimate her. She has made a career out of it — so why should the mayor stop at Sacramento when the West Wing under Trump would be a better fit?

So have at it, you two. Hop on a Zoom call and rant about evil Taxifornia. Scheme. Flatter. Campaign.

And God help the United States if what I just wrote actually happens.



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