A new candidate is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz for the 36th California House of Representative seat.
On Wednesday, Dec. 3, Dwight Kealy of Palm Springs announced his candidacy with a road trip through the district. At 7:30 a.m., he started in Blythe and traveled west and north finishing in Beaumont at 5 p.m. At mid-day, he stopped at Paradise Valley Café in Anza.
Kealy is actually the third person to announce for the Republican nomination and appears to be the only active candidate. At the end of 2014, Kirk Thompson of Indio filed paperwork with the U.S. Federal Election Commission but has yet to raise any funds. Lupe Ramos Watson, mayor of Indio, announced her candidacy in April but has apparently withdrawn and also raised no funds.
A former Marine, Yale master’s degree graduate, insurance broker for contractors and attorneys, Kealy is new to the 36th District, although he is a long-term Riverside County resident. His has moved his residence from Temecula to Palm Springs, but acknowledges his name recognition among voters will need to be raised.
Ruiz, an emergency-room physician, also was a political novice when he ran and defeated incumbent Mary Bono Mack. But he continues to be a proficient fundraiser. In 2012 for his first campaign, he raised nearly $2 million and in 2014 when he defeated former Assemblyman Brian Nestande, his war chest exceeded $3.4 million. Through September 2015, more than a year before the election, he already had nearly $1.3 million cash available.
On Thursday, the day after Kealy’s announcement, Ruiz’s campaign was sending emails seeking contributions with the text of “Big news: A Republican has officially announced he’s running for Dr. Raul Ruiz’s seat.”
Kealy admits he is just starting to raise campaign finances. “It’s not a concern at this point,” he said. He is optimistic he will have financial success to report to the FEC at the end of December.
In his insurance business, Kealy has encountered several contractors whose frustration with California’s laws and regulations has led them to move their businesses to other states. After numerous conversations about these problems, Kealy decided to step up and seek public office.
“My wife and I have a beautiful home and instead of giving up, someone should stand up and help people,” he stated. “I’ve done research and more members of Congress served in the Marines than any other branch of the military. We come from a sense of service.”
He earned his law degree in 2012, entered the bar and established his own firm. Kealy has worked with World War II veterans and women seeking families for newborn babies.
In his opinion, Ruiz doesn’t represent the values of the 36th District. Those values, which will identify Kealy’s campaign, are national security, jobs, family values and less-intrusive government regulation.
In the Marines, he was an intelligence officer who spoke fluent Arabic and Spanish. The latter, he hopes, will help him re-gain the support of the Hispanic population in the district.
But he stressed that he considers ISIS a threat. “I agree with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat. We have to defeat ISIS and that is by taking them out,” he said. “You may be surprised that a Republican Congressional candidate would say this, but Sen. Feinstein was right.”