By the time polling is done in January or February, Dan Ball, one of three Republican candidates for the 36th Congressional District, said the field should be narrowed to one and he did not enter the race to lose.
To that end, the 42-year-old Realtor and former television anchor, is ready to get tough.
“I’ve been nice about this for the last month, but I’m sorry, the gloves are off,” Ball said in a sit-down interview this week. “This is serious.”
Ball, a political newcomer, is being challenged for the nomination by Kimberlin Brown Pelzer and Stephan Wolkowicz. Brown Pelzer, 56, is a soap opera actress whose brush with politics was speaking at the 2016 Republican Convention. Wolkowicz is the director of finance for Embassy Suites Palm Desert, who first ran for Congress in 2016 at age 58.
Neither Brown Pelzer nor Wolkowicz has returned phone calls, Twitter messages or messages via Facebook.
“My hope is that both challengers would see the writing on the wall and say, ‘Who’s the best candidate? Who’s the person with local ties? Who’s the person that can take on Raul the best?’ Not who can raise the most money right now in a primary, or who has some celebrity bling or name to them,” Ball said in a wide-ranging, hour-long interview. “That’s not going to get it done, OK?”
He pointed to articles he’s read about Brown Pelzer who he views as his “biggest challenger” and in disgust said the first thing they say is that she is a “soap star and Trump surrogate” who just moved to the 36th Congressional District to run.
“Do you honestly think that’s going to work against Raul?” Ball asked rhetorically. “Against the Democratic machine? She just moved here. I commend her for wanting to serve her country and for being a strong, powerful woman. However, I don’t know why —and this is the biggest question I’ve been asked by constituents to ask her —why the 36th? I don’t understand it, I really don’t.”
A year from now when voters head to the polls for the mid-term elections, Ball said she would be ill-equipped to understand the issues of a single mother in Indio making $25,000 a year or comprehend the 30-year-old businessman who just started a small gym in La Quinta and Palm Desert and is struggling?
He contends Brown Pelzer will be unable to relate because she has not lived here day in and day out. He has lived in the desert off and on for 21 years and has lived in five of the Coachella Valley cities.
Ball has, he said. He has covered their stories and lived and worked in their communities. His 10-year-old daughter attends school in the desert.
“I am part of them. I’m part of this valley,” Ball said. “I just don’t understand how, if you haven’t lived here and you haven’t talked with these parents, seen these kids, talked to business owners, know what the Salton Sea folks are going through and how to fix that, I don’t get how you think you can just come in and say, ‘I want to run for office somewhere because I want to run, because I want to be in Congress.’ That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Ball said he attended two Republican women events recently, one in Rancho Mirage and one in Anaheim. At each of the events, Ball said he had “tons of ladies” approaching him afterward to discuss the issues.
“They kept telling me, ‘We’ve got to get the other candidates out. Dan, we think you can do it. You have the youth, the energy to energize the party again.’–” Ball recalled. “We need to stop putting up these career politicians who have been in the biz for 20, 30, 40 years, and look like your typical politicians who speak in catch phrases and just say what the party wants them to. I’m not here to cater to a party or to a base. You know who I’m here to cater to? The voters of the 36th District.”
Brown Pelzer has hired a team of consultants and so has Ball. He has at least two of former Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono’s staff on his team. Each will raise money and in early 2018 conducting polling.
Influential political heavyweights who are also donors have advised him if the Republican Party moves forward with three candidates all the way through to the June Primary, it will not bode well for the November General Election.
“The polls will show people the exit door,” Ball said. “That’s how it’s supposed to work. If the poll numbers are where I think they will be, that should be the writing on the wall.”