Thirty years after he was first elected to Congress, David Dreier looks poised to retain his job representing the 26th District in Washington D.C.
Nov. 2 will mark the 16th time the Republican Congressman's name has appeared on the ballot, and if he wins it will be his 15th consecutive victory (he lost his first bid for the seat in 1978 at the age of 26).
"I am proudly committed to ensuring that we take the challenge we have in the country and turn things around," Dreier said. "We have so much work ahead. I am proud of the commitment I have had to reduce the size and scope and reach of government."
But his long tenure isn't deterring challengers from taking aim at Dreier, who they describe as a career politician more in tune to the demands of special interest groups than the needs of his constituents.
Dreier has done little to stem the flow of jobs out of California, said Democratic challenger Russ Warner. Further, Dreier voted in favor of the privatization of social security and against Wall Street reforms that would have provided a safe guard for investors, Warner said.
"After 30 years you would think he would be doing what is right," Warner said. "It is obviously he stands with Wall Street, and I definitely stand with Main Street."
Independent candidate David Miller said he left the Republican party in 1999 because Republican officials were no more effective at stopping the growth of government than their Democratic counterparts. A general contractor and real estate developer based in Glendora, Miller said his business has been crippled by the recent economic recession.
Dreier and his colleagues in the federal government have failed to react to the crisis appropriately, he said, spending at alarming rates rather than working to reduce $1.3 trillion deficit.
"This guy claims to be a conservative every two years when he needs to get reelected," Miller said. "But he goes to D.C. and buys into the mind set there…He is the one who has been there for 30 years making this mess."
Especially egregious, Miller said, is the raiding of social security monies to pay for other costs, which he compared to a Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. If elected he would propose mandated reduction in the deficit, he said.
The United States was founded on libertarian principles of individual freedom, free markets, private property and limited government, Libertarian challenger Randall Weissbuch said, but has become bogged down with superfluous bureaucratic departments.
"It has seduced us into believing that we cannot live without the political paternalism," Weissbuch said. "It has weakened our moral fiber and our sense of self-reliance, self-esteem, voluntary charity and community."
The physician and Arcadia resident said it is time for voters to reevaluate their relationship to government and to do away with intrusive policies such as gun control, social security and compulsory public education.
"Let each person decide for himself how to plan for his future," Weissbuch said.
Dreier said that his top priority if reelected will be job creation. The 26th District, which includes portions of the Inland Empire, has been particularly hard hit by employment and foreclosures, he said. Republicans in Congress remain committed to fostering economic growth and reducing spending.
"We need to make sure that we keep taxes down," Dreier said. "Right now we are poised to have the largest tax increase in history because [the Obama administration] failed to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts on job creators and small businesses."
In 2008, Warner, a small business owner and a Rancho Cucamonga resident, staged an impressive campaign against Dreier, harnessing the pro-Democratic wave the helped to push President Barack Obama into office. He raised $1 million and was endorsed by several prominent Democratic leaders.
This year he has raised $400,000, Warner said, and there is been little support from the Democratic party. Nevertheless, he isn't giving up on his hope for change.
"I am afraid my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — they are not going to have the same opportunities that I had," Warner said.