Rep. Ken Calvert (R)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: June 8, 1953, Corona .
Education: Chaffey Col., 1972-73; San Diego St. U., B.A. 1975.
Professional Career: Restaurant owner, 1975–80; Real estate broker, 1980–92; Chmn., Riverside Cnty. Repub. Party, 1984–88.
The congressman from the 44th District is Ken Calvert, a Republican first elected in 1992. Calvert grew up in Corona. While in college, he was a congressional intern at the Senate Watergate hearings of 1973. Later, he ran the family restaurant back home and in 1980, got into the commercial real estate business. In 1982, at age 29, he ran for Congress in a district that included almost all of Riverside County and lost a nine-candidate primary to Al McCandless by 868 votes. In 1992, he ran in a new district and won the primary with 28% of the vote. His Democratic opponent was Mark Takano, an eighth grade teacher who had the support of teachers’ unions and Japanese-Americans. In a district where George H.W. Bush beat Bill Clinton by 797 votes, Calvert beat Takano by 519 votes. Calvert ran into trouble at home soon after he was elected, when the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that he had been stopped by police with a prostitute in his car. Calvert apologized and said that he was upset because his wife had divorced him the month before and his father had recently committed suicide. His opponents in 1994 used the incident against him. Calvert won the primary 51%-49%, with only an 884-vote margin, against business Professor Joseph Khoury. Takano, running again in the general election, ran an ad with the song “The Liar” and accused Calvert of “flagrant womanizing.” But with the Republican tide that year, Calvert won 55%-38%.
|Ken Calvert (R)||129,937||(51%)||($1,150,432)|
|Bill Hedrick (D)||123,890||(49%)||($191,461)|
|Ken Calvert (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (60%), 2004 (62%), 2002 (64%), 2000 (74%), 1998 (56%), 1996 (55%), 1994 (55%), 1992 (47%)
In the House, Calvert has compiled a moderate-to-conservative voting record. He has usually been a Republican team player. In 2001, Calvert took over as chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Resources Committee, which distributes public works projects. He focused intensively on building support for reauthorization of the vital water-supply program (CALFED) for California’s Central Valley. In the middle of the water fight, Calvert was one of several contenders seeking to chair the Resources Committee in 2003, but he lost to fellow Californian Richard Pombo, who was backed by then powerful Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Calvert kept the Water and Power chairmanship, and with Pombo’s help, negotiated a compromise with the Senate and among the competing users, ending up with a plan that called for new levees and recycling projects.
With the water issues largely resolved, in 2005 Calvert became chairman of the Science and Technology Committee’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. That year, he enacted a reauthorization of NASA programs, which included the goal of returning a man to the moon by 2020 and incentives for private entrepreneurs to develop space technologies. He aggressively sought spending earmarks for his district, claiming credit for more than $42 million in the 2009 omnibus spending bill alone. He then accused the majority Democrats of increasing spending by “epic and historic proportions.”
In 2003, Calvert abandoned his 1992 pledge to serve only 12 years. But he was re-elected easily anyway. In recent years, his ethics have been called into question, which could hurt him in future elections and hurt efforts to move up the ladder in the House. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that he and his real estate partner had bought a four-acre tract of land for $550,000, then sold it less than a year later for $985,000, after Calvert secured an $8 million spending earmark for the overhaul and expansion of a nearby freeway interchange. Calvert described the story as “scurrilous” and denied wrongdoing. “They still haven’t passed a law that you can’t make personal investments,” he said. But a year later, when Calvert was tapped to replace the ethically tainted Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., on the Appropriations Committee, the story came back to haunt him. Conservative bloggers reacted angrily to his selection in the wake of other Republican ethics scandals. The popular redstate.com blog wrote, “We must scalp one member. That member’s name is Ken Calvert.” The liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has Calvert on its list of the 20 “most corrupt members of Congress.”
In 2008, Calvert had a close contest against Democrat Bill Hedrick, a Corona-Norco school-board member who was poorly funded and had no national party help. Hedrick seemed to benefit not just from Calvert’s ethics problems, but also from Obama’s success in the district. Calvert won by only a little more than 6,000 votes, 51.2% to 48.8%. He was rescued by his nearly 15,000 vote lead in the heavily Republican Orange County portion of the district. Calvert’s weak showing placed him on the GOP’s vulnerable list for 2010. If he survives, shifting demographics could make him a prime target for Democratic redistricters in 2012.