MyDD Conversation with CA-42 Write-In Mark Hull-Richter
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 07:02:48 AM EDT
On Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak with Mark Hull-Richter over the telephone about his write-in campaign in California's 42nd congressional district this year. Should 3,000 people in the district write Hull-Richter on their ballots tomorrow, the Democrats will have a candidate in yet another district in which they were not previously running one. You can listen to the interview here (warning: a large .wav) or read the rush transcript below.
Jonathan Singer: Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be that you're mounting a write-in campaign, how you decided to enter the race?
Mark Hull-Richter: Well, I was at the January meeting of the California Democratic Party's executive board and they announced there that they had all of the races in the covered. So a few weeks ago I went to look and see if that was actually the case because I had heard that the Democrat who'd filed for the 42nd had dropped out and there was nobody listed on the ballot, no write-ins filed or anything. And it just seemed to me that that was a poor way to run an election for the Democratic Party, so I filed.
Singer: Can you tell us also a little bit about the district and the incumbent? It's Gary Miller, is that right?
Hull-Richter: Yes, it's Gary Miller.
The district covers the southeast corner of Los Angeles County, the southwest corner of San Bernardino County and the eastern foothill corridor of Orange County. It includes parts of Whittier, Roland Heights, Diamond Bar in LA County; Chino and Chino Hills in San Bernardino County; and La Habra, Brea, Yorba Linda, Anaheim Hills, Trebuco, Silverado, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Mission Viejo in Orange County.
Singer: So this is in part, at least, what Richard Nixon represented 50, 60 years ago.
Hull-Richter: That's what I heard, yeah.
Singer: Very interesting. And can you tell us a little bit about Gary Miller, why he doesn't deserve another term in Congress?
Hull-Richter: Well, let me see. First of all, he's a hard line, hardcore Bush backer. He votes straight Republican all the way. He doesn't seem to have a lot of thought put into it, it's just whatever the Bush administration wants he will vote for. And with this particular administration... In general, it's not wise to vote the party line without thinking, but with this particular administration it's - well - it's not sane.
And in addition to that I heard a while back that Mr. Miller did a little trick with federal funds to line his pockets and those of his real estate partners. He co-owns a piece of property - I think it's in Diamond Bar - it's about 70 acres of land. And he managed to get an earmark in the federal budget for this year, $1.28 million to improve the streets around this real estate development.
First of all, federal funds should not be used for local projects like that. And secondly, he stands to benefit from it because not only does that mean that he and his contributors, who are the partners in this, don't have to pay for that, but he also stands to benefit financially when the development is developed and sold.
Singer: So what type of message are you bringing to this campaign? I know you've only have a couple days before you hopefully get enough write-ins, but let's just assume that you are able to stay in the race for the duration. What type of message will you be speaking?
Hull-Richter: Well I have a whole program of nine steps that I have laid out on my website. Fundamentally, my number one priority is ending this culture of corruption in politics. It includes Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, and now I find Gary Miller as well. And I don't know about all of the Democrats, either, but it seems pervasive in Congress that once somebody's been in for a while they forget that they've been elected to serve the people in the district and start finding new ways that they can line their own pockets using federal funds for projects where they have an interest in.
My tax dollars should not be going to a Congressman's pocket, other than his salary, because he has contributors who have big projects that the federal government decides they're going to pay money for. I just think that's completely wrong.
That also covers funding like the $513 billion defense budget for next year that's been laid out that includes tons of money for probably the one corporation in the US that needs it the least, and that's Halliburton.
Singer: Let's take a step back and talk about the primary election, which is on Tuesday. What will you be doing between now and then to get out the vote or get out the signatures for the write-in?
Hull-Richter: Well I've done one robocall where I reached out to 7,800 people in Orange County. Between now and Tuesday I plan to have more signs put up about my candidacy throughout the district, we have some people walking precincts to hand out fliers, I'm doing as much outreach on the leg as I can, although I have known from personal experience that's not necessarily very effective. But, you know, it's something that I can do and other people have outreach as well that I'm getting to.
Unfortunately I am currently recovering from surgery I had last Tuesday so I won't be able to personally make the rounds as much as I would like to. And then trying to set up another robocall for Tuesday during the day to remind people to write-in my name on the ballot. That's Mark Hull-Richter. Although I did file a number of names that could be accepted for me in case people heard the name, didn't know how to spell it, and just take a blind stab at it. You can just write in Mark HR if that's all you have time to remember.
Singer: What type of help are you getting from a) local Democratic institutions, county parties, etc.; the state party; and the people in Washington? Are you getting any help from those three different sets of groups?
Hull-Richter: Well I'm the vice chairman of the Patrick Henry Democratic club, and they're doing some work on my behalf. I have a number of friends who are walking the district. I have a number of people who have contacted me through my website who I don't personally know but they are so excited to have a candidate just running against Gary Miller that they are willing to help out.
The county party... I'm still talking with them. They're kind of busy with their endorsed candidates, and since I filed as a write-in, I missed that possibility altogether. The state party is helping out with giving me pointers to local contacts and organizations that I can reach out to. And also the Los Angeles County Democratic Party has been helping out. They're giving me phone lists and using their outreach to help in the campaign.
Singer: Can you talk a little bit about your background for those who are unfamiliar with it? What would make you a good Congressman?
Hull-Richter: I'm an ordinary citizen trying to eke out a living as a computer programmer, which is something I have been doing for 26 years now. And I got heavily involved in politics in 2000, particularly after the - let's call it "disputed election." I began participating actively in local politics, particularly on the web. And since 2003 I've been an elected member of the 69th assembly district committee and the California Democratic Party executive board and I've been fighting for progressive issues there, starting with voter verifiable paper trails where I introduced a resolution to the Democratic state Party that was actually written by my children, who we keep very educated on the subject, and it passed with flying colors and the state party has been making some efforts in that direction. Deborah Bowen, our Secretary of State candidate, has been pushing for elections integrity for years. And I was a member of the open voting consortium for a while. I think I'm still a member, but I haven't been able to be as active there as I would like. That's where I am right now.
Singer: Terrific. And just for one final question, if there's one message you'd like to send out to the progressive blogosphere, to the netroots, what would that be?
Hull-Richter: Well, if you're in the 42nd congressional district or if you support the idea of a progressive candidate in the 42nd congressional district, I'm your man. I've been a progressive Democrat, liberal Democrat most of my life. My parents were liberal Democrats, my wife is a liberal Democrat, my kids are liberal Democrats, and we like to push the traditional values of the Democratic Party, from pretty much Roosevelt on. Social welfare, civil rights, human rights, fair taxation, election integrity and peace, particularly now when we're in the middle of an illegal war that we should have never gotten into and it's just disintegrating into a totally ugly mess.
Singer: Terrific. Well thank you so much for your time and good luck with getting the necessary write-ins to get on the ballot for November.
Hull-Richter: Thank you, too.
[THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.]