LA QUINTA – Some of the five Republican candidates challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz in the June 5 Primary have gotten more headlines and air time than others – and not necessarily for the right reasons. There is one, however, who could be considered a dark horse among the GOP pack. He is Doug Hassett.
Kimberlin Brown Pelzer, a Hollywood soap opera actress, is a much-maligned carpetbagger, parachuting into the district with big outside money blowing her in. Some local Republicans seem enamored; others of the GOP persuasion scoff at her arrogance and her obvious lack of knowledge about the Coachella Valley.
Dall Ball, a real estate agent and former television journalist, has widespread name recognition, but sometimes it’s for all the wrong reasons. Even he would tell you that. He got sideways with much of the gay community over a controversial fundraiser he held at Wang’s in the Desert. Fundraising was reduced to a dribble.
Then there is Stephan Wolkowicz and some guy named Robert Bentley who appears on official paperwork but few public places. He is ghost-like. Wolkowicz ran for the same seat in 2016 and received about 10 percent of the votes cast in the primary.
So, there you have four Republican candidates, each of whom have been verbally battered or bruised in some fashion.
Between Ball and Brown Pelzer, both of whom have big personalities, the oxygen is often sucked out of the room.
But, what’s that you hear?
Could it be dark horse Hassett? Is it a gallop or a trot?
A La Quinta native for nearly 30 years, Hassett has called the Coachella Valley home longer than any of his GOP competitors.
He is not an actor renting a home and he has not been involved in any public fracases.
Raising just shy of $8,200, the GOP candidate has neither raised the most money among his Republican competitors nor the least. He has taken no PAC contributions.
Money doesn’t seem to impress him. His currency of choice is good, old-fashioned shoe leather and conversation. Tall, thin and ambitious, he has been crisscrossing the 36th Congressional District documenting his travels on social media. Thursday he was in Blythe posing with servers as a local eatery.
He is low-key, has a sense of humor, is whip smart and is a man of great faith.
Rather than rudely refuse to divulge his age, Hassett simply said, “A man has to have some secrets.”
So, for now, it is his secret.
The man who ran unsuccessfully for La Quinta City Council in 2014 proudly serves on the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District Board of Trustees. It is a special district accountable to Valley residents and charged with protecting the public health within its boundaries through the control of vectors (such as mosquitoes) and vector-borne diseases.
Those who know him and, yes, support him, describe him as caring, thoughtful, respectful, passionate, kind, bright, articulate, and a student of people. Most of his challengers speak highly of him and respect him. He personifies class.
A testament to his respect is best exemplified by his reaction to a Republican organization that chose to endorse Brown Pelzer before Hassett had even announced his candidacy. He didn’t even have a chance to earn the group’s endorsement. He did not fight it. He said he respected the decision and said something about the “cream always rises to the top.”
Interesting. Very interesting.
One GOP voter said, “Doug is someone who isn’t afraid to get his feet wet or his hands dirty. He listens to learn. He questions the unquestionable. His involvement in so many community service programs speaks volumes. And having met his daughter…yes, he’s doing parenting really well.”
And, she added, “Doug isn’t a pretty face with wise-crack answers and doesn’t seek the spotlight for himself.”
Hassett had barely got his campaign underway when his father passed. Hassett never missed a beat. He continued responding to questions, posting on social media and working his campaign agenda. It was, he said, what his father taught him to do. Carry on.
While he is politically savvy, this guy has some other talents as well.
He’s been known to move a Veteran’s Crowd to tears with his rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless America.”
California’s 36th Congressional is located in the southeastern portion of the state and includes most of Riverside County, including the area from Hemet to Blythe. It also includes the desert communities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, Coachella, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells and Cathedral City.