Taking Back the House, Vol. 18: Ken Calvert and California’s 42nd District

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This is the eighteenth edition of a research project at PoliticusUSA known as Taking Back the House. You can check out the previous edition here. The purpose of this project is to analyze each Republican Congressional district in the United States and see how likely the district can go ‘Blue.’ To do this, I will take a look at the overall demographics of the district, as well as review the historical voting patterns and the record of the Congressperson representing the district. This series will run until we’ve looked at every single district in the country, which should take us right into the 2014 campaign season.

 

Congressional District: California 42nd District

 

U.S. Representative: Ken Calvert

 

Population: 717,412

 

Median Household Income: $71,073 (National Average: $51,017)

 

Unemployment Rate: 13.5% (National Rate: 7.3%)

 

Gender: 49.9% Female, 50.1% Male (National Percentages: 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male)

 

Age: 10.1% 65 and over (National Percentage: 12.8%)

 

Race: 69.2% White, 6.1% Black, 9.0% Asian, 0.6% American Indian (National Percentages: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian, 0.9% American Indian)

 

Ethnicity: 66.8% Non-Hispanic, 33.2% Hispanic (National Percentages: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic)

 

Urban/Rural Population Split: 95.2% Urban, 4.8% Rural (National Split: 82% Urban, 18% Rural)

 

District Voting Patterns: Like most of California, redistricting caused lines to be redrawn and districts to change numbers due to population increase in the state. Calvert had represented the 44th District in Riverside County. That district was pretty much shifted entirely to the 42nd District. Calvert has been in Congress since 1993 and is now in his eleventh consecutive term. In 2012, he won reelection by a decent margin of 21 points. The prior campaign, it was much closer as he defeated Democrat Bill Hedrick by 11 points.  Hedrick nearly defeated Calvert in 2008, losing by only 6,000 votes.

 

Besides the two close calls given to him by Hedrick, Calvert has generally been able to win his reelection campaigns by significant margins. Prior to the narrow win over Hedrick in 2008, Calvert hadn’t won by less than 15 points since first getting elected. As for Presidential elections, the district went for Mitt Romney in 2012 by 15 points. In 2008, John McCain carried the same district lines, 54-43.

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Congressional Activity by Calvert: Calvert currently serves on the Appropriations Committee and the Budget Committee. As a real estate investor, Calvert has had his penchant on getting pork for his district, and especially for areas where he owns property, brought into question numerous times. The Washington Post ran an article in February 2012 that detailed Calvert obtaining $1.2 million for the Corona Transit System, which services a number of Calvert’s rental properties. He was actually attacked by Erick Erickson’s RedState blog a few years ago as a Republican that needs to be thrown out of office due to his shady real estate dealings.

 

For the most part, Calvert is a typical Republican. He votes with his party 94% of the time, per OpenCongress. The National Journal rated him the 136th most conservative member of Congress in 2012. He is pro-life and opposed to same-sex marriage. However, he does favor certain restrictions on guns, as he has supported them in the past. At the same time, he has been endorsed by the NRA in past elections. He voted for the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ bill on January 1st, 2013 and also voted to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the federal government in October. Both votes were against the majority of Republicans but with the Republican leadership.

 

Notable Quotes by Calvert:

 

“I began working in our family business in Corona at a young age. Before long, I started and ran my own business, learning valuable lessons about small business along the way. With an economics degree from San Diego State University and decades of community leadership and business experience, I understand what it means to sign the front of a payroll check, and what that paycheck means to families.” – From Calvert’s campaign website.

 

“As most Americans know, our immigration policies are broken. The worst step we can take is to grant amnesty to people who entered our country illegally. I oppose amnesty because it sends a horrible message to those who entered our country legally and to those thinking about immigrating to America in the future.” – Also from Calvert’s campaign website.

 

Odds of District Going Blue in 2014: Fair. There is a pretty large Hispanic population in this district and Calvert has been pretty much opposed to immigration reform, especially if it has ‘amnesty’ included. That most likely will not sit well with the Latino community. Also, unemployment has been high there, which always festers some discontent as well as makes people dependent on social services, which Republicans have been cutting. However, despite the higher than average unemployment, this is still also a pretty affluent area, judging by the median income.  And the majority of the population is still white suburbanites.

 

Calvert has a reputation as being a money-grubbing scumbag. Yet, in doing so, he has brought federal funds into his district, which voters always look fondly on. The main focus here is to find a strong candidate who can target the negatives of Calvert while energizing Democratic voters to come out to the polls. That candidate also needs the full support of the national Democratic Party behind him or her. Calvert has a decent war chest at his disposal. Another hope is that the Tea Party runs someone in the ‘blanket’ primary and weakens Calvert, forcing him to spend more and get beat up during the primary season. It is very doable for this district to turn Blue.

 

Justin is the Managing Editor and a Contributing Writer for Politicus Sports, PoliticusUSA’s very own sports site. You can check out the site here

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