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Previously in this series:
Hedrick Rocks pt 1
(introduction; the “Manifold Failings of Ken Calvert”;
introducing Republican primary challenger Chris Riggs;
and meeting Bill’s family)
Hedrick Rocks pt 2 (the Wars, and Healthcare Reform)
and now, Part 3:
OJ: … All right, would you like to talk about any LOCAL issues in the 44th District, that you would address differently from Mr. Calvert?
Hedrick: Well, there are tons of local issues in both counties [Riverside and South OC.] Let’s see…
For one thing, Mr. Calvert has been a strong proponent of the toll roads in South Orange County. He supported the route through San Onofre State Beach and the Don O’Neill Conservancy. That plan was dead but the extension seems to be coming back to life. I certainly think the first plan was disastrous, and I’m opposed to that extension. Any extension of the road at all needs to be done closely in concert with the environmental community as well as the residents, and all of the options examined. But frankly, I think more can be done with the 5, and that’s what we need to be looking at. I don’t think it’s a really viable plan to go after the Marine Corps to try to do a land swap, because that’s got a new set of problems that will be attached to it. So that’s an issue that we’d like to hold off on, and look for better solutions than the extension.
Let’s see… Mr. Calvert proposed offshore drilling as a solution to our energy problems. That was markedly unpopular in San Clemente and other areas in Orange County, as well as certain segments in the rest of the state. I think that that was a mistake and it’s very damaging to the local interests there, and we would not go down that road. What I would do is have substantially more investment in alternative energy; certainly the Inland Empire ought to be a natural area for both manufacturing as well as a market for that. We’re situated to take off in that regard, and I would certainly follow that forcefully.
Okay, in the city of Riverside, the issue of grade separation is huge. Essentially, that’s the railroads that rumble through this city. We need to have underpasses constructed, or overpasses. But mostly… if you can imagine a two-mile train coming to a slow stop, tying up, basically splitting the city. And if you’re in an ambulance on one side and the hospital is on the other side, you’ve got a problem. Trains are going to become longer and they’re going to be in greater frequency. So I would certainly do everything I could to access the transportation dollars necessary to complete the projects that the city of Riverside needs in order to ensure safety of the local citizens as well as the free flow of traffic.
Those, I know, are substantial issues in this community. And…
OJ: I was just hearing about the terrible unemployment in this county [Riverside]
Hedrick: Yeah, I was just going to bring that up – unemployment is huge here. There are pockets in the 44th District where it’s certainly at least 15% and probably approaching 20%; that’s as currently calculated…
OJ: And of course you have to double that…
Hedrick: Yeah, seriously, that’s not including those who’ve given up, or grossly underemployed. Well, what we need is… honestly, I would support tax credits for small businesses who are creating jobs here. As a last resort, I believe that the… well, we need to work harder at stimulating the local economy, that’s the bottom line. But there are other mechanisms that I believe could be used in a last resort, in terms of the Federal Government providing programs that include direct employment. If the private sector cannot, at this point, provide employment, what we’ve found is that people are not too picky about where their paycheck is coming from, they want a job and they want a paycheck, they want to make the house payment or pay their rent. And, so while it’s preferable if they’re private-sector jobs, I think the Federal Government may need to step in, in some areas of the country, and really provide employment opportunities for people.
Challenges of This Campaign
OJ: Well, you came so close in 2008, but that year there was all the excitement over Obama, the hope, the change, that brought everyone out, which this year we probably won’t have so much. The common wisdom is this will be a real tough year for Democrats. How are you going to compensate for that?
Hedrick: Well, the fact of the matter is that the mid-term elections are notorious for having a lower turnout. However. There are some independent factors here that are in play which I think level the playing field. Really, this is not so much about the national picture, but whether I can persuade the voters that I can do a better job for the majority of this district than Mr. Calvert.
And I think that we can make a compelling case that our Congressman is out of touch. He has neglected this disicttr for years, and is trying to make up for years of neglect with a truly huge barrage of mail, phone,
OJ: Government-funded glossy mailers…
Hedrick: Yes. That’s the truth. And I don’t think that it’s going to work.
OJ: My own Dana Rohrabacher does that every time an election’s coming up. But this is Ken’s first time?
Hedrick: We get something in the mail every couple of weeks. And that’s been going on now for about six months. But, I don’t think that it’s going to matter, because there’s a strong and correct perception that Mr. Calvert has lost touch with the constituents here.
You know, we equalized the campaign last time; although the district has a Republican tip, we did quite well, and about 40% of our endorsers were Republicans, disenchanted Republicans. And we anticipate the same thing will occur. Okay, what I was going to say is we equalized it with a very large volunteer base. Our volunteer base will be even larger this time, we had nearly a hundred people turn out today here. I think we’re gonna be able to mobilize a really strong volunteer base in both Riverside and Orange County.
OJ: I sent money to William “Cold Cash” Jefferson’s Republican challenger [Anh Cao] because I felt that such a corrupt guy was an embarrassment to my Democratic Party, so it makes sense to me that conversely a lot of Republicans would be glad to get rid of Ken Calvert.
Hedrick: You’re right, they are not pleased with the behavior of Mr. Calvert, and you can actually find articles on the Red County Blog that are much more graphic than anything we put out.
OJ: (laughs) So we can afford to take the high road.
Hedrick: Well, Ken is wrong on the issues. And if we can convey that effectively, he will lose. So we’re obviously… we don’t have to match him dollar for dollar, but we certainly have to raise enough money to get a message out. But it will be, again, a grass-roots campaign. And it will be comprehensive – we’re not gonna concede one city, whether it’s Coto de Caza which has a very low Democratic registration, or Rubidoux which has a very high one. We’re going to work in every city and every town in the district, and he will know that he’s been in a campaign.
OJ: I hope he’ll know more than that.
Update: Developments Since this (late January) Interview
- An early February poll showed that, if the election were held today, only 38% of likely voters in the 44th would vote for incumbent Calvert, while 41% would vote for Hedrick – a remarkable result at this point in the game.
- Bill became the first (and so far only) Congressional challenger in California to receive the Sierra Club’s endorsement.
- The campaign finally got together a kickass website, and also made this video: