Leo Zacky is a California businessman and politician who unsuccessfully ran for Governor of California in 2022. Although he failed to win the Republican primary, Zacky’s candidacy provides some insight into the California GOP and the future of the party.
This article will provide background on Zacky’s life, his 2022 gubernatorial campaign, political views, and what the future may hold for his political ambitions.
Early Life and Education
Leo S. Zacky was born in Fresno, California in 1963. He comes from an established family in California’s agricultural industry. The Zacky family owns and operates Zacky Farms, a major poultry producer in the state.
Zacky graduated from the University of Southern California in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. His education helped prepare him for a career managing the family business.
Career Before Politics
After college, Zacky went straight to work at Zacky Farms. He gained experience across all aspects of the poultry business, from processing to sales and marketing.
Zacky worked his way up to executive positions, including CEO. He leveraged his business background to modernize operations and expand Zacky Farms’ market share.
As an executive, Zacky gained valuable leadership experience. He also made important connections with farmers and agricultural groups across California. This proved useful when he later entered politics.
2022 Campaign for Governor
In 2021, Leo Zacky announced he was running for Governor of California as a Republican. He joined a crowded field seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Gavin Newsom.
The state GOP primary took place on June 7, 2022. Zacky positioned himself as a political outsider and businessman. However, he failed to gain much traction with voters.
Zacky ended up finishing 9th in the open primary, receiving just 1.3% of the vote. Brian Dahle, a state senator, won the Republican nomination.
Despite his business credentials, Zacky lacked name recognition. He was unable to differentiate himself from the other Republican candidates or run an effective campaign.
Fundraising and Expenditures
Zacky’s gubernatorial campaign raised approximately $4,806 in contributions. However, he loaned his campaign $90,000 of his own money. This allowed him to spend over $138,000 during the primary.
But Zacky’s war chest was dwarfed by Newsom, who spent millions. Brian Dahle also significantly outraised and outspent him. This funding disadvantage made running a viable campaign difficult.
Comparison to Other Candidates
In addition to Brian Dahle, Zacky faced several GOP rivals with stronger political profiles and resources. This included conservative radio host Larry Elder, who led most polling before the primary.
Michael Shellenberger, an environmental activist, and John Cox, the 2018 Republican nominee, also garnered more support. Unlike his competitors, Zacky simply lacked name ID and connections.
Political Views and Positions
Although his campaign never gained momentum, Leo Zacky did share his policy positions on key issues. This gives insight into his political ideology as a Republican.
Zacky called for reducing government spending and cutting taxes, common GOP fiscal stances. He supported eliminating the gas tax and reducing regulations impacting businesses.
He prioritized fiscal responsibility and stimulating economic growth. Zacky wanted to curb entitlement programs and balance the state budget.
Socially, Zacky aligned with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. He called himself “pro-life” and expressed support for religious freedom.
Zacky opposed sanctuary city policies and wanted stricter immigration enforcement. However, he avoided inflammatory rhetoric on these hot-button issues.
Criminal Justice Reform
Regarding policing, Zacky stood firmly behind law enforcement. He rejected calls to “defund the police” and backed tougher penalties for certain crimes.
Zacky also vowed to aggressively address California’s homelessness crisis if elected governor. He favored more involuntary treatment for those with mental health and substance abuse issues.
Leo Zacky resides in Fresno with his wife, Julie, and their four children. When he is not busy with work or politics, Zacky enjoys golfing, skiing, and volunteering in the community.
He serves on several boards, including the Fresno State Alumni Association and Poverello House. Zacky has also been involved with organizations like the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.
While he was unsuccessful in his 2022 gubernatorial bid, Leo Zacky’s political career may not be over. This first run could lay the groundwork for another statewide campaign in the future.
However, Zacky would need to improve his fundraising and messaging to compete with better-known Republicans. He remains active in the California business community and GOP politics.
At just 59 years old, Zacky still has time to make another attempt at higher office. His conservative credentials and outsider image could yet appeal to voters dissatisfied with the dominant Democrats. For now, he provides an interesting case study of a relatively unknown Republican trying to break through in deep blue California.
Who is Leo Zacky?
Leo Zacky is a businessman and Republican politician in California who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2022. He is an executive at Zacky Farms, his family’s poultry production company.
What was Zacky’s background before politics?
Zacky worked his way up at Zacky Farms after graduating college, gaining experience across all aspects of the poultry business. He eventually rose to an executive role like CEO.
How did Zacky’s 2022 gubernatorial campaign go?
Zacky finished 9th in the open GOP primary, receiving just 1.3% of the vote. He lost to fellow Republican Brian Dahle, who went on to lose in the general election.
What were some of Zacky’s policy positions and views?
He aligned with fiscal and social conservatives, supporting tax cuts, reducing regulations, opposing abortion and sanctuary cities. Zacky also backed tough on crime policies.
What is Zacky doing now after his unsuccessful campaign?
Zacky continues to work in the family business and serve on various boards in the California agriculture community. He remains involved in Republican politics and may run for office again.