He’s Just a Bill–Within Striking Distance!
By Tommy Purvis
Don’t anyone go and tell Bill Hedrick or his volunteers that there is an enthusiasm gap between Democrats and the GOP. The feisty Corona-Norco Board of Education member (and five-time president) and congressional candidate with a grassroots campaign is again within striking distance of Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) in the 44th district. The (allegedly) corruption-plagued incumbent continues to poll below 50 percent and clings to a narrow 5 point lead (48 percent for Calvert 43 percent for Hedrick) according to an Oct. 12 poll of 611 likely voters by Zeta|3 Consulting, a Democratic polling firm.
The internal poll commissioned by the Hedrick camp claims that undecided voters are breaking his way. It is true that internal polls tend to favor the home team, but it must also be noted that when these two faced off in the last election it took weeks to count the votes. Hedrick came within 2,500 votes of replacing the 9-term congressman. The 44th district is one of seven GOP-held districts President Obama won in California in 2008. In fact, if 20 percent of the 16,000 persons who voted for the president, but failed to vote down ticket—voted Democrat for Congress—Hedrick would be the incumbent this election.
This time around the Hedrick campaign cannot depend on the Obama momentum to carry them to victory.
It is a testament to Calvert’s political maneuvering that the Tea Party did not force him out in the primary for a more conservative, purer candidate. Eric Erickson, the editor of redstate.com, did, after all, declare war on Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) over Calvert being on the House Appropriations Committee. Calvert voted for TARP, the bill that was pushed by Pres. Bush to bail out Wall Street and boils the kettle of Tea Party conservatives. Plus, his reign in the Inland Empire is well known for shady real estate deals and his arrest after a police officer caught him with a prostitute in a parked car.
On July 3 Calvert spoke to a Tea Party rally in the gerrymandered San Juan Capistrano section of the 44th district. The focus of the event was to agitate supporters on the one thing that unifies the extreme-right tea party Republican base more than moral certitude, health care rights or even homosexuality: Latinos.
Tea Party organizers invited Calvert to speak about illegal immigration. He is well known as the author of the bill that led to E-Verify legislation. E-Verify is a program that compares Social Security numbers for employers to check the citizenship status of new hires. During the rally, audiotape recorded Calvert in a conversation with a tea party supporter. The man claims to be a resident alien from England that committed voter fraud in the previous month’s primary when he and his friends cast votes. The back-and-forth is posted on the downwithtyranny blog:
Male voice: During the primaries this season, I’m a legal alien from England, so I have a green card, I went to Trabuco Hills High. No problem, for me to vote. Yeah, I had a friend of mine who went in Riverside and another one who went in to Santa Ana; no one questioned anything . . .”
Rep. Calvert: Well, uh, it’s a growing problem, and, uh, especially in my congressional district which is 42 percent Hispanic. And we’re gonna have to deal with it in an aggressive way. I mean, voting is a privilege and should only be given to American citizens.”
The fear mongering tone in the congressman’s rebuttal is the wind in the sails of Republicans charted to capture the House. Political strategists from the grassroots to the DNC to the White House all agree that Latino turnout can sway the election for Democrats. But with a renegade sheriff in Arizona rounding up brown-skinned persons, no movement made on comprehensive
immigration reform and the death of the Dream Act (which would allow equally qualified undocumented students the chance to attend college), there is little difference between this Congress and the past one to push the demographic to the polls.
Regardless, the Hedrick campaign has a small army of 200 active volunteers and they hope to capitalize on the anti-incumbent sentiment that fuels the Tea Party faithful.
“Rep. Calvert’s record of self dealing is an insult to the working families across the district,” says Kristopher Daams, communication director for the Hedrick campaign. “Our volunteers our enthusiastic and engaged in making phone calls and knocking on doors. We have a bigger field team this time around and we are determined to get this thing done.”