With just weeks before the US Senate primary, John Kingston spent Wednesday in San Diego — the “front lines of our border,” he said — to speak directly with border patrol agents there.
His selection of the sun-splashed southern California setting was also a convenient one: The Republican owns a piece of a Spanish Colonial-style villa at the local Four Seasons resort — just a few dozen miles from those same front lines.
With immigration emerging as a campaign talking point, the Winchester businessman wasn’t the first Republican running in the three-way Sept. 4 primary to tout a visit to the southern border; state Representative Geoff Diehl traveled to Texas in March.
But the trip also afforded Kingston, and his family, some time at what’s billed as a “vacation home in the heart of a Pacific coastal community.”
Kingston and his wife signed a deed in 2015 to a timeshare at the Aviara Residence Club in Carlsbad — a Four Seasons resort 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego. The vacation homes are nestled on the shores of the Batiquitos Lagoon, a protected wildlife sanctuary, and offer residents views of “valleys rolling to the Pacific,” lush green hills and its golf course, according to its web site.
Joseph Cueto, a campaign spokesman, confirmed that Kingston and his family stayed at the timeshare while in California. He said the Kingstons made the trip to continue a program they started in 2006, in which they visit a “squatter community” over the border in Tijuana, Mexico, to do work in local schools there.
Kingston first purchased the timeshare in Carlsbad to “facilitate” the trips, which they usually make in August, according to Cueto.
“Notwithstanding all the requirements of a campaign, the Kingstons want to do their best to remain committed to their primary charitable/philanthropic and family obligations,” he said.
Kingston is slated to return to Massachusetts on Thursday. But Cueto said he did not know when the candidate first flew to California. Kingston had declined an invitation to appear at a WGBH debate earlier on Monday night.
He also defended Kingston’s decision to decamp to the West Coast at a time when candidates are usually skittering across the state to meet voters and sew up support weeks before the primary.
“John has throughout this entire campaign knocked on thousands of doors with his campaign team,” Cueto said. “He’s been vigorously campaigning since he’s been in this thing.”
In a press release, Kingston said he visited the “front lines” of the border to see “firsthand the status of our border security,” and met with members of Local 1613, a union that represents 2,100 Border Patrol agents in southern California.
The so-called San Diego sector is one of the busier along the southern border, making about 26,000 apprehensions last fiscal year, according to federal data. But it’s far less active than the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas, which reported five times the number of apprehensions and a staff of nearly 1,000 more agents.Reach Matt Stout at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout