Gregory Cheadle is a California real estate broker and politician who announced that he’s leaving the Republican party and running for Congress in 2020 as an independent. He was in the political spotlight in 2016 when President Donald Trump referred to him as “my African American” at a campaign rally.
Cheadle garnered national attention in June 2016 during a Trump rally in Redding, California. Trump was telling the crowd about his “tremendous” support from black voters when he happened to spot Cheadle in the audience.
“Look at my African American over here. Look at him,” Trump said. “Are you the greatest?”
Cheadle told PBS NewsHour that he has finally decided to leave the Republican party, partly after seeing black people used as “political pawns” and Republicans following a “pro-white” agenda.
Cheadle, 62, is running in California’s 1st Congressional District. He’s run unsuccessfully for the seat four times as a Republican, losing in the district’s open primary in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. Republican Doug Lamalfa has held the seat since being elected in 2012.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cheadle Says Republicans’ Reactions to Trump’s Tweets Telling Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to Their Countries Was a Breaking Point
In July, Trump tweeted that four American congresswomen should “go back” to their home countries, referring to Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Trump wrote as part of a lengthy Twitter rant.
Omar is the only one of the four representatives who was not born in the United States, though she and her family immigrated to Minneapolis in 1997 after fleeing the civil war in Somalia, according to her campaign website.
Cheadle told PBS that watching Republicans later defend Trump’s tweets was one of the final straws for him leaving the party.
“President Trump is a rich guy who is mired in white privilege to the extreme,” Cheadle said. “Republicans are too sheepish to call him out on anything and they are afraid of losing their positions and losing any power themselves.”
2. Cheadle Describes Himself on His Campaign Website as Not a ‘Good ol’ boy’
Cheadle’s campaign website states: “Serious times demand a SERIOUS MAN, not a ‘Good ol’ boy!'”
The candidate describes himself as the only contender “strong and bold enough to be what a Republican used to be and what a Democrat ought to be, an INDEPENDENT STATESMAN for WE THE PEOPLE.”
In a short list, Cheadle also says he’s not “a puppet of the filthy rich, not owned by corporations [and] not part of the old guard, good ol’ boy, statist Republican or Democrat Party.”
3. Cheadle’s Website Says Illegal Immigration Is an ‘Insult to Black Americans’ & the U.S. Has Become ‘a Nation Filled With Gluttons, Alcoholics & Drug Addicts’
Cheadle’s campaign website lays out issue positions on energy, health and wellness, immigration, Obamacare, jobs and the economy, and religious freedom.
Cheadle’s energy platform says the United States has “fallen prey to being a slave to foreign oil.” “There was a time many years ago when foreign oil was very inexpensive and those from whom we purchased it were not at the time blowing themselves and others for ‘religious’ reasons,” the platform says. Cheadle proposes a “multi-facted” approach consisting of the conservation of fuel, the utlization of American natural resources such as goal and natural gas, and investments in nuclear, wind and solar power.
Cheadle’s health and wellness platform says that national healthcare “is unsustainable in this country largely because we have become a nation void of discipline. It says “this lack of discipline has left us as a nation filled with gluttons, alcoholoics, drug addicts (legal and illegal) (smokers and drinkers), many of whom are uninsured and/or unable or unwilling to pay for any of the healthcare they receive.”
His immigration platform calls illegal immigration an “insult to Black Americans” because “the government, many do-gooders, and the Catholic Church” “show no concern about alleviating violence and poverty in the Black community” and purposefully place illigal immigrants above blacks in the socioeconomic hierearchy.
Cheadle’s “where I stand” page says he’s for the Constitution, private property rights, the second amendment, energy indepndence, transparency in government and personal responsibility and against ObamaCare, illegal immigration, “Big Brother,” reckless spending, unbridled regulatory agencies, amenesty and bailouts.
4. Cheadle Says He’s a Real Estate Broker, Author, Lecturer & ‘Luxury Playhouse Builder’
Cheadle has an undergraduate degree in psychology and “pre-med,” according to his website. He also has a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on healthcare administration, along with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.
Cheadle describes himself as a real estate broker, “luxury playhouse builder,” author and lecturer. The candidate says his main policy areas of focus are healthcare and “reducing the tax burden on citizens.”
Cheadle gives more information about his personal and professional background on his campaign page, saying he was not born “privileged” or with a “silver spoon” in his mouth.
“As a consequence, he knows what it is like to struggle and pull yourself up by the bootstraps when the bootstraps have been cut,” Cheadle wrote about himself. He said that after living through the era of segregation, he “abhors injustice in all forms” and is an advocate for equal rights.
In a 2018 interview, he added: “I was born poor and I’m still poor. I’m still struggling. So I can relate to the people who are struggling. I’m a candidate and I [still] buy my clothes from the thrift store.”
5. Cheadle Said He Wasn’t Offended by Trump’s Comments in 2016, but now, He’s Less Sure
Shortly after Trump’s rally comments in 2016, Cheadle spoke about the incident on CNN, saying definitively that he wasn’t offended by the remarks.
“When you look at what Donald was saying, initially he was saying that it was a great fan, this African American was a great fan, and then after he made the remark he says: ‘Aren’t you the greatest?,'” Cheadle said. “So how in the world can I take offense at being a great fan and the greatest? No, I’m still not offended by it.”
Cheadle added at the time: “Blacks and whites, we have a history of dissent. So we have to come together, we have to make the effort to come together.”
Now, though, Cheadle is less confident about that answer.
“I’m more critical of [the comment] today than I was back then, because today I wonder to what extent he said that for political gain or for attention,” Cheadle told PBS.