I've posted diaries here in the past so you should already know that I'm running again in 2010 but now that it's official, I wanted to post a little more about my background, why I'm running and why you should care about this particular race.
I should begin by explaining exactly where my district is located. It's in southern California in one of those gerrymandered districts, divided into two very different counties. 80 percent of the district is situated in Riverside county, an hour east of Los Angeles that has been devastated by the economic collapse. We're currently at 13.2 percent unemployment - and quickly rising - along with the fourth largest foreclosure rate in the nation. The other 20 percent is situated in southern Orange County (San Clemente, part of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch, and Coto de Caza). Those cities are fairly affluent though their housing markets have also been negatively impacted this past year.
The families in my district clearly need a leader who is on their side and I'm committed to being that leader in 2010.
The current representative (Ken Calvert) is serving his 17th year. He votes along strict party lines which means he voted against the Stimulus Bill, even though it will bring more jobs to this congressional district than any other in California. He also voted against HR 1106 which will save countless homes right here in this district from going into foreclosure. And I have no doubt he'll oppose any health care bill that comes from the Democratic side of the aisle.
I have lived in this district for almost 30 years, raised my five children here, and both my wife and I have been educators in Riverside County for over two decades so I understand what families in our region are up against and every decision I make will be with their best interests in mind.
I originally threw my hat into the ring in 2008 because of a personal issue, the Iraq war. I have two sons who, combined with their spouses, will have served a total of 10 deployments in Iraq by the end of the year. Mr. Calvert was a champion of the ill-advised occupation of Iraq and continued to push for its continuation long after everyone else knew what a terrible mistake it had been. I had children over there that were being directly affected by that partisan way of thinking and I wanted to be a voting voice on the side of reason in ending the occupation and bringing our troops home.
I also understand the burdens placed on military families when loved ones are serving overseas. With lengthy and multiple deployments, soldiers and military families often face undue financial hardships. I don't think most Americans realize that many service members and their families are actually living at the poverty level. This is something I find unconscionable and will work on changing.
Health care is also an important issue to me. I have long been a supporter of guaranteed health care for all and recently joined in PDA events promoting their Health Care Not Warfare campaign. I could not agree more with what Governor Dean said at the state convention a week or so ago, "It's not socialized medicine. It's civilized medicine."
I have an uphill battle on my hands so I hope all of you will help me this next cycle. In 2008, flying under just about everyone's radar, I was able to win the Riverside portion of the district (totaling 80 percent of CA 44) by 4 percent and came within 2.4 percent overall of unseating a 16 year incumbent. I did it with basically no money and no party support. Two years previously, the Democrat lost by 23% so I understand why no one paid attention. However, with expanded resources, help from the Netroots community and a strong voter registration effort, I am sure I can close the 2% gap in 2010 and capture this seat once and for all.
When I do, the hard working families of this district will be represented by someone in Washington who actually votes with their best interests in mind.