Twice trounced by Democrat
But it's not going to be easy.
Voters here overwhelmingly preferred
But that strategy didn't work. Fareed lost handily to Carbajal by almost seven points in 2016 and by more than 17 points in 2018.
"Yes, Andy can beat
But other local conservative voices aren't so sure.
Include among them
Woody, whose views on social issues and local oil and gas production don't align with the traditional conservative narrative, says the
"I think any conservative candidate is going to have a difficult time in this race," Woody said. "As much as there will be many older
Despite that, Woody predicts Caldwell will be a formidable candidate who will "have the support of the Christian right, development interests, and the oil industry."
Though he said at a recent interview that he never before had ambitions for public office, Caldwell says his outlook changed after watching
Caldwell announced his candidacy on
Caldwell, whose 25 years in radio includes a daily talk show on 1440 AM in
He's also known as the founder of the
In an interview late last month, the local media personality said he stands a good shot against Carbajal due to the congressman's support of what he called "an open border policy," and conservative non-starters such as the Green New Deal and exploring impeachment proceedings against President
"I believe he's shifted beyond the comfort zone of his own base," Caldwell said of his opponent. "He's gone all in with (Nancy)
Caldwell was born on an
His family later moved to
Out of college, Caldwell worked for
"The county was killing us, so we started to fight back," Caldwell said. "I fought for working class people because I was one of them."
Today, COLAB of
A Democrat for most of his young adult life, Caldwell says he changed parties around the time he formed COLAB. Today, he says he supports most of the policies of Trump, whom he called a "brilliant international businessman."
"I think his heart's in the right place," he said.
In the last local congressional race, Caldwell said he endorsed Fareed, who he said he was happy to support because "he wasn't
"There were things I didn't like about him. I thought he was too young and too inexperienced," Caldwell said. "But I thought he had great ideals."
Caldwell on the issues
As far as ideologies go, Caldwell and Carbajal could not be more opposed.
Among the most significant local debates, the proposed expansion of oil and gas production on and off the
But Caldwell said he doesn't believe the
"To me, the most environmentally sensitive and conscious way to produce the oil that we ourselves consume in (the district) is producing it here locally, because we have the most stringent rules and regulations in the world," he said.
Citing a so-called "environmentalist" credo of "think globally, act locally," Caldwell said it's the "height of hypocrisy and irresponsibility" to import oil and gas "from around the world where it's produced with none of the rules and regulations."
"For the most part, the oil and gas industry is safe. They have accidents, but so does every other industry," he said.
He downplayed the environmental harm done by local oil spills dating back to the late 1960s and said that natural gas seeps from the below the ocean floor are far more harmful in the long run to the local environment.
"We have the second most prolific oil seeps in the world off of the
Asked about renewable energy such as wind and solar, Caldwell said the economy ultimately "chooses the form of energy we use."
Though he said he supports the development of alternative energy sources, he is staunchly against mandating or subsidizing them.
And while he said he believes the global climate is changing, he says it's not accelerated by human activity.
"I believe the only thing that climate does is change," Caldwell said. "I'm not going to believe that man is causing or accelerating climate change until somebody explains the Ice Age to me. "
Now facing a political opponent who is a naturalized citizen from
"I love the concept of the melting pot, the American Dream, all of that. I believe in it all," he said. "Most Americans will not take jobs that are arduous and seasonal if they can avoid it. So I believe that ag, construction, and visitor-serving businesses that ... are arduous are going to need an immigrant workforce."
Caldwell said that having a viable guest worker program would serve that demand but prevent whole families from following the worker into the
"They end up getting subsidized housing, put a demand on schools and on medical services and things like that .... and they compete for housing," Caldwell said.
He added that he doubts the large numbers of people seeking asylum in the
"That shows they weren't seeking asylum; they were seeking the American Dream," he said. "I don't demonize them for doing that, but we have laws."
Regarding the mental health crisis in American cities, prisons and county jails, Caldwell said the latter have become the country's de facto mental health institutions, calling the mass closure of public institutions in the 1980s "a mistake."
He supports rebuilding those institutions, he said, with public-private partnerships.
Related to mental health, he said, is the state's problem with homelessness, which he argues has cost
"The people, they're out of their minds. Throwing housing at them is not working," he said. "We're throwing billions of dollars at (the) homeless (issue) and it's just getting worse."
Caldwell claims that 85-90% of people who are homeless suffer some form of mental illness and/or substance abuse issue for which treatment is the only solution. For those who don't fit into that category, "those are the ones you throw a house at," he said.
He said that under Democratic Party leadership,
He cited a report by radio host Drew "Dr.
Caldwell said he's opposed to the state's recent efforts at criminal justice reform, which reduced penalties for some low-level and non-violent crimes. He said voter-passed initiatives such as Proposition 47 and Proposition 57 led to defendants failing to appear in court for their offenses and police avoiding making arrests for small crimes.
He said he's instead a proponent of a "Broken Windows" type policing where crackdowns on the small crimes have a supposed ripple effect on the larger ones.
"You have to deal with mental health and drug addicts and alcoholism as the root cause. The root determines the fruit, and we quit dealing with the root," he said. "I go back to institutions and criminalizations."
Caldwell has written extensively about the state's wildfire crisis and argued that environmentalists "fight to protect habitat which is the fuel, as if it's sacrosanct, instead of managing the habitat."
"Create fuel breaks, do control burns, and I'd go buy 10,000 goats and let them go throughout the
A well-known media personality
As a radio host and newspaper columnist with his own media commitments, Caldwell's celebrity poses some unusual campaign issues for a local race.
Generally speaking, however, Martin said the commission has opined on similar issues about whether a candidate's media engagements equate to free campaign advertising.
In one advisory opinion, the commission held that a candidate could continue to host a radio show during his candidacy "if they refrain from expressly advocating their own election (or the defeat of their opponents), and would not solicit campaign contributions during the show," Martin wrote.
In that opinion, the commission wrote that it considered whether particular activities involving the participation of a federal candidate, or communications referring to a federal candidate, result in a contribution to or expenditure on behalf of such a candidate under the Federal Election Campaign Act.
"The commission has determined that financing such activities will result in a contribution to or expenditure on behalf of a candidate if the activities involve (i) the solicitation, making or acceptance of contributions to the candidate's campaign, or (ii) communications expressly advocating the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate," according to the opinion.
Martin noted that those advisory opinions are case-specific and may be relied upon for legal guidance by others only if the facts are materially indistinguishable between the two situations.
"However, if the facts and circumstances differ, a candidate may wish to request his/her own advisory opinion from the commission that could make determination of the permissibly of a proposed activity based on the specific facts and circumstances of his/her situation," Martin wrote via email.
Caldwell pledged to not promote his campaign or attack Carbajal's in his media platforms.
"I will not campaign through them; I have not mentioned my campaign through my radio show at all; and I won't write anything about Salud in the
Caldwell noted that his campaign is being advised by
"He says that on an opinion page, you can't campaign, but you can give opinions," Caldwell said. "I don't try to exploit people, and I don't try to exploit situations."
"Andy is realistic about equal time and does not and will not promote his campaign on his show," Jordan said. "His integrity will keep everything above board."
Asked about Caldwell's media engagements, Carbajal's campaign spokeswoman
She added, however, that "questions around the ethics of
How can he beat Carbajal?
Jordan said the
"This, plus his 'cut to the chase' attitude and integrity are definitely his strengths," Jordan wrote via email.
He said Woody "would have made a great candidate," but that "Andy's appeal is that he is well known all over the
Asked about whether Caldwell can beat Carbajal given the latter's commanding defeat of Fareed by 58.6 to 41.4% percent in the 2018 general election, Jordan pointed to Republican candidate
Despite differences over some issues, Woody in an email last week called Caldwell a "good friend," and said he will vote for him in 2020.
But Woody said the
"(The older generation) still live in a world where they wrongly believe that your sexuality will dictate your ability to have a family and be a parent, or that women should not have a choice when it comes to reproductive rights," Woody wrote. "The world has changed, and they missed it."
Woody also said the debate over oil and gas production will play a big role in the race.
"You have Carbajal who wants to shut down the oil industry with ideas such as the Green New Deal that will destroy high-paying technology jobs, and Caldwell who wants to expand offshore oil drilling which has historically created environmental havoc along our coastlines, and which will not make a dent in our national oil output," Woody wrote.
Fareed did not respond to an emailed request for comment on Caldwell's candidacy.
Carbajal's campaign says that although it's far from certain who will challenge the incumbent in the general election, they're confident "that the work Salud has done in
"From standing up for veterans and promoting job creation to ensuring the local agriculture industry is supported, he's been a voice for all of his constituents, regardless of party," Rosellini wrote in an email.
Asked about the role oil and gas production will play in this race, Rosellini said the issue is "crucial" in the district and provides a stark contrast between the two candidates, citing Carbajal's history of opposition to offshore oil development, emphasis on transitioning to renewable energy, his support of local jobs, and environmentalism.
"To be a voice for the
(c)2019 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
Visit The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) at www.sanluisobispo.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.