By John Earl
OC Voice Editor
Dan Kalmick of Seal Beach is the other Democratic Party Primary candidate seeking to unseat Republican Dana Rohrabacher and represent the 46th Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Kalmick is a technology consultant for small and medium size businesses in Orange County and a member of the Orange County Fire Authority. At 25-years-old, he is relatively young for politics, and with little funding or name recognition outside of his home town he seems an unlikely victor. But he sees himself as the more moderate candidate who appeals to voters across the political spectrum by offering real solutions to the problems they care most about. He was interviewed in downtown Huntington Beach recently by the OC Voice. The following questions and answers are excerpts from that interview. For more information about Dan Kalmick go to his web site: www.kalmick2008.com.
The other two Democratic Primary candidates withdrew and supported you and you all said that Debbie Cook would be too liberal and to divisive [to win].
How are you less divisive than her?
Debbie Cook has a history of environmental activism. I don’t think Republicans and moderate decline-to-states are going to vote for her. She has a history of [putting] the environment over people. And in this district, 20,000 Republicans have to step across and vote for a Democrat [to win].
How are you different from Cook on the environment?
She was quoted in 2006 as saying that she thinks that low gas prices are bad. She’s saying that [with] high gas prices of $5 a gallon the people in the United States are going to converge and say ‘OK, we need to change our bad ways.’ I just don’t think that’s going to happen.
She’s saying that lower prices aren’t going to happen, anyway.
I disagree with that.
How are you going to keep those prices down short of nationalizing the oil companies, like in Venezuela?
I’m a big person for incentives. Basically, what they have now is that they are selling oil at the worldwide market price…If you’re going to pump oil domestically, you’re going to need to be able to sell it at a price that is not set by a cartel of people..
What’s wrong with higher prices if the profit from that, instead of going to the oil companies, goes to making alternative energy and it discourages people from creating more global warming?
I understand your point. If you look at Europe, if you take out all the taxes it’s roughly what we pay for oil. They have a $3 tax on every gallon of gas. It goes to public transportation infrastructure and goes for other things… Public transportation infrastructure in Southern California-it doesn’t work.
We don’t fund it properly.
Exactly. If you bring gas to $6 a gallon it’s not going to hurt anyone in this district. It’s only going to hurt a very small number. They will be able to absorb the costs [and still drive]. Gas has gotten to almost $4 a gallon and people are still driving big trucks in this district….It affects poor people. That’s the whole concept that I am trying to get across, that $5 a gallon isn’t going to affect the average person in Huntington Beach or the average person in Newport. It’s going to affect the person in Middle America.
Why not take the tax out of that $6 and apply it for public transportation that the poor can use?
Right, but that’s a 20-year-plan. You can’t just say we want public transportation now. But you’re going to have to look at it as a longer stretch. We need to do something in order to bring gas prices back down, but at the same time work at it at the national level and start working on alternative fuel.
Do you think that gas is going to get cheap again?
There’s ways to do it….
How cheap do you think it will get?
We’re going to need someone in the federal government to stand up and say ‘We’ve got something wrong going on here’ in order for gas to get cheap again. I can’t predict how chap it will get, but–
But that’s hype…for the most part. It’s not the solution.
I’m not saying that. I’m saying that housing prices and energy prices are starting to go up and there’s a direct multiplier on our food and our other supplies that have nothing to do with gasoline because they have to be shipped locally…We need federal incentives for companies to really start investing in alternative fuels and alternative energy.
Global warming aside, what makes you think that the environment isn’t an important issue for people in Huntington Beach across the political spectrum?
I think that it is, but I don’t think that it is the number one issue. I think a lot of the people in this district are concerned about the economy and immigration. A lot of my clients are Republicans and small business owners. They care about the environment. A lot of them are in Westminster, Costa Mesa, Long Beach, Seal Beach…Fountain Valley and Westminster-I mean, she talks a lot about coastal issues…So, Westminster, that’s not talking to them. They want to hear, ‘How am I going to get more money back from my profit, how is business going to succeed and what is going on with immigration?’ That’s where I really haven’t seen any solutions to any issues that she’s [Cook’s] got up.
You said that you wanted to answer some of the questions that she didn’t answer in her interview with the Voice. So, what are those questions and what are your answers?
You asked her about impeachment and about Haliburton and she didn’t know about that. If you are running for federal office, you should absolutely know what the Bush administration and Haliburton are doing..Publicly traded corporations in this country are broken…Look at Wal-Mart, low prices and low morals. They strategically set it up so that they get as many tax breaks as possible and in the long run they are hurting their employees. They have been successfully sued by their employees for poor labor practices. And they’re screwing up the environment too…
So you think you have a more pro-labor stance than Cook?
Would you vote for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act?
(Long silence) Are you going to give me a little more information on the Taft-Hartley Act?
If you’re pro-labor you ought to know that. The Taft-Hartley Act is the cornerstone of the decline of the American labor movement. It passed in around 1950 and cut union strength by putting forth regulations about who can be in a union and a lot of other amendments to it. Ralph Nader says that he would vote to end Taft-Hartley. No Democrat when he’s been in the presidency, even when the Democrats controlled the House, has ever tried to repeal Taft-Hartley. So, how can a candidate be pro-union if–
Absolutely. I would absolutely evaluate repealing Taft-Hartley.
What about impeachment (of Bush and Cheney)?
I absolutely support impeachment. I supported Dennis Kucinich’s articles of impeachment that he introduced.
We are looking at this completely wrong. The war on drugs ties into a lot of why people are coming to this country from Mexico. Because we’re propping up these governments that are corrupt and they’re not monitoring property rights. Peoples’ homes are taken by larger groups by eminent domain down there. And the drug running is making it unsafe. You can’t start a business down there because you have to pay drug protection money. Look what happened in Tijuana a month ago…So if you have a country that is stable and can perform its own jobs, they’re not going to come here to look for jobs. It’s an economic issue too. People are not going to here to do work if there are no jobs.
What about the effect of NAFTA on immigration?
NAFTA stopped working when China jumped into the mix. NAFTA completely lost all its effectiveness. It worked for the first couple of years when we were building factories down there. Andthen China came along and said we will make it for 10 percent of what Mexico is going to do it for and all the jobs went over to China. And the problem is that we have no leverage in China because they own all of our debt.
What about the theory that our corporate imperialism in Mexico has caused the immigration flow in the United States? And that is has increased with NAFTA?
I agree…we got all the people to move up to the boarder. They started working in these manufacturing jobs we were creating and then we bail out. There are empty factories all along the border on the south side. We need to work with Mexico so that they can get their economy stabilized, not just throw $1.4 billion dollars at them like we did last month in the war on drugs, because that goes to the corrupt politicians down there and the drug runners pay them off too. So they’re just getting richer and the people there are suffering. We don’t need to alienate these people. We don’t need to spend a fortune building a wall down there. The terrorists came in through Canada.
Do you see any need to change our absolute support for whatever the state of Israel does in the occupied territories?
The state of Israel is one of the few democracies [in the region]. Israel is working very hard with Palestine to stop the terrorism there, to form a separate country for them. When they formed Israel they didn’t kick everyone out. It’s a 2,000 year old struggle going on that George Bush thinks he can solve in the last year.
But by giving our absolute support to Israel aren’t we contributing to the problem? It is an apartheid state there, with the wall. People are starving. Eighty-three percent have to get aide from the United Nations or they starve. Israel keeps taking more territory and violating treaties.
Our big issue, I think, is in Saudi Arabia. The whole anti-Zionist idea, I think, is ploy in some sense…I think it’s really about the oil and our idea about Mecca and Medina. I absolutely support Israel and what they’re trying to accomplish.
What about the rights of the Palestinians, who because of that wall are starving, the land that they’ve lost and treaty after treaty that’s been violated by Israel?
The United States needs to work with Israel and pressure it to come to a reasonable solution.
How would you pressure Israel? Doing so is the death nail of most Democratic Party candidates.
It’s a very complex issue. It’s been going on for 2,000 years, so we need to get the parties talking again…And we need to get the balance….Israel really needs to focus-they’ve decided that they’re going to do a two state–
But how are you going to get Israel to do that? Would you say to it what we say to other countries, that we’re going to cut off aide?
I don’t think it works. Because the whole idea of cutting off aide is to have the people rise up and overthrow the government that’s oppressing them and I think that–
Let’s say some aide.
I don’t think that’s the way to do it. If people are starving that makes them more–
The Israelis aren’t starving. The Palestinians are. So how do we pressure the Israelis to live up to their treaties?
We have to talk to them and say look it’s better for everyone. They understand this, but they’re getting attacked and bombed at the same time…We need to get the president to really start pressuring Israel, but at the same time we’ve got far greater issues of national security. Israel I don’t think Israel is the cause of a lot of those national security issues. I think that the cause is in the Gulf and allying ourselves with certain powers that fundamentalist Jihadists are disagreeing with and are saying ‘that’s why we don’t like you.’ It would behoove us to start listening to why we do we need more bases in Saudi Arabia.
How are you going to run this campaign? Cook says she’s going to raise $1 million for the race. What’s your game plan?
Our game plan is extremely grass roots. We’re going door to door.
Cook has the support of the Party hierarchy, Loretta Sanchez. Funding will come to her.
That’s still in the air.
If she gets the nomination, right, but she’s got the support.
She’s got the support of about 50 people in the Democratic Party [hierarchy] in Orange County.
I’m sure she’s assuming the primary will be a wash.
We don’t think that she’s going to be able to beat Dana Rohrabacher in November because we don’t think she can pull enough voters. We’re really going after the Independents and the Democrats who don’t know who she is, because the district is so long and large that-their claim is that the Democratic Party likes her because she is an elected official and that she has some name recognition. I disagree with the name recognition.
She’s a lot better known than you are anywhere in the district.
I never heard of you until this election.
I have strong recognition in Seal Beach which makes up 33,000 residents of the district. I’m saying I’m not an environmental activist. I haven’t said that low oil prices would be a bad thing. We support small business heavily because I started several small business as start ups, I worked with small business throughout all Orange County and I see that they’re really hurting. And we’re talking small business owners a lot of who are Republicans and we’re discussing, even with the Independents. With the Democrats I’m a fresh face in the Party. I’m not beholden to anyone. I don’t have 8 years with people who I have to do favors for, the people who supported me.
You can’t get elected without being beholden, can you?
We’ll be beholden to people who support issues that I support. I’m fine with that because I’m not beholden to them because I already agree with them…We have solutions to problems that Republicans like, we have solutions to problems that Independents like, we have solutions to problems that the Democrats like. And I haven’t seen solutions from Debbie Cook, explicit ideas and ways to solve issues in health care. She’s for single-payer, but how are you going to do that?
Are you against single-payer health care?
I’m absolutely for single-payer, but I’ve looked into it and I’ve figured out how we can actually do that.
How about State Sen. Sheila Kuel’s bill?
I really model our plan on France’s. Are you talking about SB840? I like it…but I really support the way France runs their system.
Why have you chosen congress instead of city council? It seems like you would be a good candidate for Seal Beach City Council as a first step, and then on from there.
My background is in technology. I grew up with it. I’m educated in it. I started my first technology business when I was 11-years-old, and a lot of those technology issues are handled on a national level…
Did any of Cook’s supporters call you and ask you to drop out?
No one has asked me to drop out…The reasons I stayed in the race as well is that I don’t think anyone should ever run unopposed. I really want to raise issues.
If you don’t win, what are your future plans for politics?
We’ll cross that bridge in June when we come to it. We’re optimistic.