Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Kaloogian plus other odd Repubs vying for Duke Cunningham's seat...

From :

No Democrats in 'The Ranch'
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Staid, wealthy old North County is getting its share of publicity now with the scramble of a multitude of odd politicians to fill the remaining months of the Duke's term. Since I live far from that affluent neighborhood, I can sit back and enjoy the show, and a show it is.

When the Navy piped me over the side in 1970, I sold insurance for a number of years. Following the odd notion that rich people have money and will spend it, I peddled my wares in the area surrounding the Rancho Santa Fe zip code. I was partially right.

One of my favorite stories about the area involved the late Jane Brett, a realtor. She was once asked to serve on the election board because they wanted a Democrat for balance. When Jane said she was an Independent the reply was, "Oh yes, but you know there are no Democrats in the Ranch."

Of the current pols vying for the Cunningham-tainted 50th, my favorite to watch is Howard Kaloogian. He's the guy who in 1997 initially opposed a law which would allow women to breast-feed their babies in public. Not a complete dunce, he backed off when faced with women who weren't at all happy with being shunted to the back of the bus -- or restaurant in this case.

Fortunately, references to mammary glands aren't part of this current platform. Perhaps someone told him that trying to keep one class of citizens out of sight isn't good politics. So he is sticking to the tried-and-true, saving a sinking presidency. Kaloogian jumped on board the "war-is-good" bandwagon. To prove it, he went to Baghdad, or to somewhere. His Web site, purported to show him walking the streets of that beleaguered city. Everything was peaceful as could be. You could even see the graffiti on the walls. Oops! That turned out to be in Turkey, not Baghdad.

True to form he had an "explanation," three of them in fact. Then he had another equally peaceful photograph. This "peaceful scene" included a building which was later blown up.

But don't bet against Howard. The 50th is home of many rich business moguls that gave overwhelming support to a president. I'm sure they like his tax plans, and perhaps the war doesn't touch them, but I wonder how many would keep on a manager who ran up uncontrollable debt while deliberately cutting income. Those guys didn't earn that coveted 92067 zip code with voodoo economics.

But politics is politics and up there politics means Republican. They have a colorful history of . . . uh, of unusual candidates.

In 1962, they chose James B. Utt over Lionel Van Deerlin by some 64,000 votes. Van still grumbles about that. That's not, I suspect, because he lost an election. He did that more than once. No, Van lost to a guy who claimed that barefoot Africans in Georgia were training to help the United Nations take over the country.

Utt stayed on until 1970 when he was replaced by John Schmitz, a man who said he joined the John Birch Society in order to appeal to the liberal wing of his constituency. One of his more notable constituents was the president of the United States, a fellow many thought pretty conservative himself. But not liberal enough, Schmitz. When his president was about to go to China, he remarked, "I have no objection to President Nixon going to China. I just object to his coming back." But the most telling thing of all about John Schmitz was that even the John Birch Society dumped him.

Up there, odd candidates aren't limited to the Republican Party. In 1980 the Democrats nominated a former Ku Klux Klan member and then leader of the White Aryan Nation, Tom Metzger, for congress. Mercifully the Republicans were again running popular, and rational, Clair Burgener. The Democratic Party endorsed him and Burgener won his last election with 82 percent of the votes.

Two years later Republican voters pulled another even more curious rabbit out of the hat by nominating Johnny Crean. His bizarre behavior as a candidate led the Republican leaders to jump ship. They backed Ron Packard for the seat and North County had an independent representative until Packard was able to change his politics back to the accepted and proper party.

Hint: If you are something of a liberal and want to sell insurance up there don't talk politics. And if you want to hang on to your money don't bet against the likes of Kaloogian.

Keith Taylor is a retired navy officer living in Chula Vista. He can be reached at Or write a letter to the editor.


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