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Michael Fagans / The Californian

Candidate for the 16th state Senate District seat, Francisco Ramirez of Riverdale.

Francisco Ramirez, 16th Senate District candidate, told Fresno radio talk show host Ray Appleton Wednesday that he's running as a Democrat because most of the voters in the district are Democrats.

"The majority are Democrats. I want to get the votes," Ramirez said.

But he wants the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, is pro-life, opposes gay marriage, opposes tax increases and wants to reduce regulations on businesses in the San Joaquin Valley.

"So you talk like a Republican. You think like a Republican. But with a 'D' after your name, you think you can sneak in and invade? " Appleton asked him.

"Yup. I plan to do that, " Ramirez said.

Ramirez joined Appleton on his 11 a.m. show on KMJ Talk Radio.

He called both Democratic front-runner Leticia Perez and Republican front-runner Andy Vidak puppets of their political parties.

"Sacramento doesn't own me. I'm my own man," Vidak said in response.

Perez said she has, on the record, taken clear stances about water, taxes and other issues that aren't popular with the leadership in Sacramento.

She called Ramirez's statements groundless.

Ramirez also said Vidak only works six weeks a year and both Vidak and Perez are afraid of debating him.

Vidak said he runs businesses in three San Joaquin Valley counties and works hard year-round.

Perez said she is focused on talking to voters about the issues of the race.

It was important to have a face-to-face debate among all the candidates, she said, and that took place last week.

"They don't want to do debate me because they don't want to talk about the real issues," Ramirez said.

But when Appleton asked Ramirez for specifics about his plans once he wins the Senate seat, Ramirez responded vaguely.

Appleton asked Ramirez for plans to solve the water problem after Ramirez called Perez and Vidak weak on the issues.

"We got to make implementations," he said, saying he supports above-ground storage -- dams -- just as both Vidak and Perez said they do.

Appleton tried to pin Francisco down.

"You're not giving me any plans," he said.

"Correct," Ramirez responded.

Pushed to say what he would do in Sacramento, Ramirez said he would need to research that.

"I would have to look at the legislation. I would have to look at what is going on in Sacramento," he said.

Ramirez said he is a small-business owner who helps other business succeed through his company, Ramirez Consulting. On his business website he is known as "Ramzi" Ramirez and markets himself as an author, business consultant and motivational speaker.

According to the California Secretary of State's website, Ramirez has been registered variously as a Democrat, Libertarian and Republican in the last two years.

Republican John Estrada, whose own bid for the 16th Senate Seat crumbled in March when he failed to submit enough valid nomination signatures, is Ramirez's campaign manager.

"Were talking with the strangest Democrats I've ever talked to in my whole damn life," Appleton said after a break.

When Appleton asked Ramirez what his first, most burning priority would be in Sacramento if he won the seat, Ramirez said he would consider some of the reforms to environmental laws being championed by Sen. Michael Rubio, whose early resignation from the seat set the stage for the May 21 special election to replace him.

"We really have to look at where Mr. Marco (sic) Rubio left off," Ramirez said.

But he said he also wants to change things at the state capital.

"I'm going to knock some heads -- some of these knuckleheads in Sacramento," Ramirez said.

Peace and Freedom candidate Mohammad Arif and Democrat Paulina Miranda are also running for the 16th Senate Seat in the open election.