Politics 2004Week of February 16


With less than a month to go before California Republicans select their standard-bearer against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, the momentum right now is with Howard Kaloogian, the most conservative of the GOP hopefuls in the March 2 primary. Kaloogian, a former three-term assemblyman, was the founder of the initial group that launched the recall of Democratic Gov. (1998-2003) Gray Davis last year.

Kaloogian announced for the seat within hours of the January filing deadline, after friend and fellow conservative legislator Tony Strickland abandoned his own Senate bid), Kaloogian has raised more than $500,000??¢â???¬ ¦quot;??¢â???¬?????almost all of it through the net, Howard Dean style,??¢â???¬  he told me. More significantly, 44-year-old San Diego lawyer Kaloogian has swiftly cobbled together an enthusiastic organization from the ranks of a number of the major issue groups based in the Golden State. Members if the National Tax Limitation Committee, Gun Owners of America, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association have all weighed in with the conservative firebrand.

Most recently, the former legislator won the endorsements of perhaps the two best-loved figures among California conservatives: 1992 U.S. Senate nominee Bruce Herschensohn and State Sen. Tom McClintock, who carried the conservative banner in the gubernatorial replacement race won by Arnold Schwarzenegger last fall. Still another favorite on the right, ??¢â???¬â???¢02 gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon, is soon expected to give his blessings to Kaloogian.

??¢â???¬?????Swell,??¢â???¬  conclude skeptical pundits and pols, questioning whether all of this momentum will be enough to overcome the front-runner, former Secretary of State (1994-2002) Bill Jones, who has twice won statewide office and has Schwarzenegger??¢â???¬â???¢s endorsement.


A Vietnam veteran and former minority leader of the state assembly, Jones stunned The political communities in California and the Nation??¢â???¬â???¢s Capital four years ago by switching his support from George W. Bush to John McCain in the California presidential primary. This change of heart cost Jones dearly and in the ??¢â???¬â???¢02 primary for governor. He had difficulty raising money and placed third with a miserable 7% of the vote.

??¢â???¬?????And when you look at the fact that he only narrowly won his two races [for secretary of state], that??¢â???¬â???¢s pretty unimpressive,??¢â???¬  observed Kaloogian, noting that Jones campaign manager Ed Rollins also ran his opponent??¢â???¬â???¢s race for governor two years ago.

But name recognition is name recognition. According to a just-completed statewide poll conducted by Survey USA (a collective of four news organizations throughout California), Jones leads Kaloogian by a whopping 34% to 9% among likely primary voters. ( Placing third and fourth are former Los Altos Mayor Toni Casey, a liberal Republican who has made major donations to Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, and the left-wing EMILY??¢â???¬â???¢s List, and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, who is pro-abortion and opposed the anti-illegal immigration Proposition 187 in 1994).

The feisty Kaloogian dismisses Jones??¢â???¬â???¢ leads and notes that his own numbers have grown three times in most surveys since he launched his last-minute bid. In his words, ??¢â???¬?????I will overtake my opponent when the primary voters know both our records, which I plan to make clear. He says he is pro-life, but is running away from the issue when he says ??¢â???¬????The women of California are concerned about safe streets and national security.??¢â???¬â???¢ I have always opposed abortion in all cases except to save the life of a mother and I never run from discussing my views. ??¢â???¬?????I have always opposed tax increases and, as minority leader in 1991, my opponent was a key architect of the largest tax increase in state history.??¢â???¬  (Former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who called for the huge tax hike, has endorsed Jones. ). ??¢â???¬?????He backed away from Proposition 187 when he was running in 1994;??¢â???¬  said Kaloogian of Jones, ??¢â???¬?????and I was first elected that year as a??¢â???¬â???¢187 baby.??¢â???¬â???¢??¢â???¬ 

Along those lines, Kaloogian is making clear his opposition to what he calls the administration??¢â???¬â???¢s ??¢â???¬?????back-handed amnesty??¢â???¬  for illegal immigrants a key plank in his campaign platform. As he told me, ??¢â???¬?????I was an early supporter of George W. Bush and am proud to run with him. But he??¢â???¬â???¢s wrong on giving sanction to people who are in this country illegally. ??¢â???¬?????It??¢â???¬â???¢s an insult to immigrants who became American citizens through the legal means??¢â???¬ ¦quot;as my father did??¢â???¬ ¦quot;and something I will fight vigorously against in the Senate.??¢â???¬  One of the recent Kaloogian endorsers is Ron Prince, father of 187 and its successor-initiative that he is trying to qualify for the fall ballot.

Like many younger conservatives seeking office these days, Kaloogian breaks with the administration on the issue of government spending. ??¢â???¬?????My view has always been what the 10th Amendment says: whatever powers are not specifically delegated to the federal government belong to the states,??¢â???¬  he told me, ??¢â???¬?????That means abolishing the Department of Education, the National Endowment of the Arts, and a slew of agencies and programs and I??¢â???¬â???¢m for it. And I will discuss it in the campaign.??¢â???¬ 

All told, the poll numbers and the fact that the primary is a sprint rather than the marathon work to the advantage of the better-known Jones over Kaloogian. But, as Kaloogian points out, ??¢â???¬?????from the primaries that chose [Republican Representatives.] Chris Cox and Dana Rohrabacher to Bruce Herschensohn??¢â???¬â???¢s nomination for the Senate right up to Bill Simon??¢â???¬â???¢s primary win, California Republicans more often than not support the most conservative candidate who can motivate the most people. That??¢â???¬â???¢s where I??¢â???¬â???¢m coming from (Kaloogian for U.S. Senate, Box 1445, Sacramento, California 95812; 916-441-3734; ).

DEATH OF THE ??¢â???¬?????BANJO MAN??¢â???¬ 

Even moderate Republicans who disagreed with his championship of tax cuts and states??¢â???¬â???¢ rights found it almost impossible not to like Rep. (1974-86) Thomas Kindness (R.-Ohio). When Congress finished its work for the day, Kindness would often delight friend and foe alike by playing his banjo at Washington??¢â???¬â???¢s Capitol Hill Club. Frequently accompanied by fellow Rep. (1962-82) Del Clawson (R.-Calif.) on the saxophone, Kindness, with a smile and his signature bow-tie, would keep club patrons spellbound with his banjo-strumming and sometimes everyone in the entire club rooms would sing along. When he died in Exeter, England, on January 8, Kindness was remembered as both a good-natured ??¢â???¬?????banjo man??¢â???¬  and a solid conservative who once declared ??¢â???¬?????some of our worst law arises out of compromise.??¢â???¬ 

Born in Tennessee, educated at the University of Maryland and George Washington University Law School, Kindness moved to Hamilton, Ohio, as a lawyer for Champion Paper Co. Within seven years, he was elected mayor of Hamilton and, from 1970-74, served in the state house of representatives.

When Kindness became the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio??¢â???¬â???¢s 8th District in 1974, things looked bleak for the GOP. Not only was it the so-called ??¢â???¬?????Watergate Year,??¢â???¬  but Don Gingerich, a conservative who had managed the third-party vice-presidential campaign of Gen. Curtis LeMay in 1968, was running as an independent that year and sure to take votes from Kindness. With all-out backing from Big Labor, former Foreign Service officer T. Edward Strinko loomed large as a likely Democratic pickup in the House that year.

Undaunted, Kindness hit plant gates at 6:30 in the morning, worked bowling alleys and shopping centers, and then went to Kiwanis and Rotary luncheons and evening meetings in the homes of supporters. At most events, he won new friends by playing his banjo and pushing a simple message: Cut the federal budget by $20 billion, use part of the money to reduce the national debt, use the rest to cut federal taxes, and let local and state governments handle their own affairs. Kindness finally managed a close win with a plurality.

On the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Kindness cut a wide swath for his unyielding championship of states??¢â???¬â???¢ rights??¢â???¬ ¦quot;leading the charge on measures ranging from exemptions from Voting Rights Act restrictions to fighting additional authority for the Justice Department under the criminal code. In 1979, he challenged liberal Rep. (1960-80) John B. Anderson (Ill.) for chairman of the House GOP Conference, but lost by a vote of 87 to 55. In 1986, he ran for the Senate, but was badly beaten by Democratic incumbent John Glenn.

After four years of lobbying in Washington, a restless Kindness tried to win back his former House seat. But as Hamilton County Commissioner Mike Fox, who succeeded Kindness in the state legislature, recalled, ??¢â???¬?????The 8th had changed while Tom was away, and he never anticipated the money that would be used in the primary.??¢â???¬  Kindness was beaten by fellow conservative John Boehner, now chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee.


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