Saturday, October 25, 2008

Long shot looking to unseat Lee has no regrets

Charles Hargrave hasn't reported raising any money, doesn't have a campaign Web site and knows he'll lose Nov. 4 — and he has no regrets whatsoever about running for Congress.

Taking on incumbent Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, in the nation's sixth-most-Democratic district is no cakewalk.

"I knew exactly what I was getting into, I knew exactly what was going to happen, but I believed I had a message that would resonate with people and I went out and did all I could do," Hargrave said.

"The odds are too great for me to win — I have to be realistic with myself — but I'm not going to give up, I've got 10 days left," he added. "I feel very good. The response has been basically, I would say, 50-50; I've been focusing on the minority communities, and I have a problem being a black Republican of course, but people are listening to me."

As Hargrave visits black churches and leaves campaign fliers with downtown Oakland merchants, he gets the most traction speaking to voters about school vouchers for inner-city kids and paying high-school kids to take math and science so the U.S. can stay competitive with China and India.

"That came across very favorably with most everyone I've talked to, including Democrats," he said. Yet there's only so much shoe leather one man can wear away. Hargrave's name and photo weren't on the Alameda County Republican Party's Web site last Monday. County GOP Executive Director Ryan Hatcher said Advertisementhe had "no idea" why Hargrave was omitted.

"I assume it's an oversight by our Webmaster," Hatcher said. "I do know that we have endorsed Charles." Hargrave's name and image still weren't on the page Friday.

Hargrave said he never asked Lee to debate him but did ask the League of Women Voters of Oakland about hosting a debate.

"Their response was, 'Well, it takes a lot of money to put these things on and we're kind of low on money right now,'" he said.

League President Helen Hutchison said "nobody talked to Mr. Hargrave" from her group, which hosted debates only for smaller local races this year anyway.

"How can the voters have a real choice if they don't know what the other candidate's platform is? They should see the two candidates face to face," Hargrave said. "That's one of the reasons I think she (Lee) skates by every two years. I don't think she's even campaigning."

But Hargrave acknowledged a debate probably wouldn't turn the tide. The registered voters of the 9th District — which covers Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont and Albany plus Castro Valley, Ashland, Fairview and some other Alameda County unincorporated areas — are 65 percent Democrat to less than 9 percent Republican with almost 21 percent declining to state a party affiliation. The Cook Partisan Voter Index says it's California's most heavily Democratic-leaning district and the nation's sixth-most.

Lee won 81.5 percent of the vote in 2002, 84.6 percent in 2004 and 86.4 percent of the vote in 2006, growing stronger since her lone vote against the unfettered use of military force after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Hargrave has reported no fundraising. Lee had raised $953,205 and spent $919,445 in this election cycle as of Oct. 15, Hargrave is a Volunteers of America supervisor; he was an Operation Hope homeownership consultant from 2005 to 2007 and a Franklin Mortgage Inc. vice president from 2003 to 2004. He ran for the 9th Assembly District seat in 2000, and for the 7th Congressional District seat (held by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez) in 2002 and 2004.

He said he believes abortion should be legal only when the mother's life is endangered; capital gains, inheritance, gasoline, alcohol and tobacco taxes should be eliminated; and troop levels in Iraq should be maintained without a withdrawal timetable until the new Iraqi government can support itself. He supports capital punishment; expanding oil exploration into currently restricted areas; voluntary, not mandatory international emission targets to limit global warming; establishing English as the official national language; letting workers invest part of their Social Security payroll tax in self-managed private accounts; and requiring welfare recipients to spend at least 40 hours a week in work and training programs. He opposes same-sex marriage.

Libertarian Jim Eyer, 50, also is in the race, mounting his fourth consecutive challenge against Lee. The utilities analyst and Internet and software consultant also has reported no fundraising but does have a Web site, at

Lee's Web address is

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