Calvey aims at Congress

Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 27-Mar-2010

Former state Rep. Kevin Calvey of Del City won 47% support in a Republican primary straw poll of Oklahoma County voters. The balloting for the Fifth congressional district was held Friday evening (March 26) at the annual GOP county Lincoln Day Dinner, which drew some 300 Republican activists to Quail Creek Country Club in north Oklahoma City.

Earlier, just before St. Patrick’s Day, Calvey led comfortably in a scientific poll of Republican primary voters. In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Calvey said the earlier poll ratified his confidence about the race. “It was very reassuring and it certainly tracks with our own internal research. The indication I’m getting is that what we’re saying is resonating with voters,” Calvey said. “I believe the voters are looking for someone they can trust, someone they can believe in who will lead with a conservative message and agenda in Congress.”

Calvey sat for the interview with CapitolBeatOK after a busy legislative day, returning to his old stomping grounds at the fourth floor rotunda on NE 23rd and Lincoln Boulevard.

Calvey ran in a crowded congressional field in 2006, the race ultimately won by U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin. She is now seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Asked if the prior experience in a congressional race has helped him be a more effective campaigner this time, he reflected:

“I don’t know about that. I do know that I have talked to a huge number of people. In this campaign, we’ve gone to dozens of civic organizations, church groups, neighborhood coffees and events, you name it. The voters are responding well to the message”

Asked to summarize reasons he is a better choice in the primary race than any of his five opponents, Calvey replied, “I’ve been there in the trenches for a long time, leading the charge for the conservative cause, the beliefs that reflect most of the grass roots conservatives in the district. It’s interesting because as you know I won a legislative seat that never before me (nor since I left) has been held by a Republican. I pushed for and got passed through the Legislature House Bill 1547, which was the largest tax cut in state history. We passed that in 2005 and brought the income tax rates from, from 6 1/4% before then, down below 6% after that passed.”

I believe the strength of my campaign is reflective of the battles I’ve fought and the belief of voters in those battles, whether it’s the right to life, the second amendment and gun ownership right, and the fight for less spending. I also believe people appreciate that I served our country at a time when we needed people to stand up and be counted.” Immediately after leaving the state Legislature, Calvey served a tour of duty in Iraq.

Pressed to list his priorities if he wins the primary and general elections this year, Calvey replied, “It is absolutely essential to find a way to reduce federal spending. It is at a critical level no matter how you slice it, and that’s the case even before the addition of the new spending in the federal health care bill. I’ve seen recent reporting from the Bloomberg Service about the bond ratings being at risk in our country. The value of the dollar is at risk because of this crushing debt we have. Those who buy our bonds are starting to doubt our ability to pay off the bonds. This is frightening to many people, and they correctly look at it as a moral issue. It is immoral to lay this kind of crushing debt on our people.”

So, where would he start on the federal spending surge? Calvey said, “I don’t think there is any choice but to begin with a highly critical look at the agencies of the federal government. One of those is the Department of Education. And, without reforms in entitlement programs it’s hard to see how we get even close to reining in the spending.

“I agree with recent action is to abolish the earmarks.While it’s true that the percentage of all spending involved in those is relatively small, they are still a symbol of the whole problem. Earmarks are a way, a means or mechanism by which the congressional leadership essentially buys or purchases the votes of members. If we don’t get rid of earmarks I don’t’ believe we’ll ever fix the larger problems.”

Calvey also said, “Sustaining our country’s efforts against global terrorism is vital. We can’t afford to stick our heads in the sand about what is really involved in this fight. I prosecuted some 100 terrorists in Iraq. There are a number of these people who will never, ever stop trying to kill us. If we do not effectively engage them by all means necessary – and I want to be clear that does not mean always through military action – they will eventually overcome us instead of the other way around.

“An aspect of the war against terrorism that takes on a domestic economic impact is in fact one of the primary things we need to do. Promoting American energy independence is absolutely fundamental. We have to cut our dependence on foreign oil, whether directly or indirectly.

“I have sympathy for those who say our priority should be ‘Drill, baby, drill.’ That means here at home. I certainly don’t think we should be spending any government resources or money on foreign sources of supply. We must develop and enhance domestic sources of fuel, and of natural gas.

“We could cut off tax dollars being used to fund countries like Iran due to our dependence on foreign oil. This would also allow the country to spur private sector sources that are trying to develop and improve natural gas vehicles, and make that something that is real and sustainable. This really all stitches together. The threat of terrorism should make us more passionate about energy dependence, about energy development”

Turning to the home front and the economy, Calvey said, “When it comes to job creation, something we’re hearing a lot about in wake of the health care vote, we simply need to let the private sector work. The American economy is the greatest job creation mechanism in human history. The government is stupendously bad in this area, and in even figuring out how to operate efficiently.

“One way I look at this is the following. The effects of a mistake in the private sector planning of a particular company or even an industry are limited. But a mistake in central planning can and does have huge effects on the entire economy. We need to let the private sector grow and develop if we’re going to address our real, fundamental economic issues.”