Some of the biggest and most influential names in Republican politics, business, commercial real estate, development and philanthropy in the Coachella Valley are queuing up to endorse Dan Ball in his bid for the Republican nomination for the 36th Congressional District.
Among those lending their names — and money — to Ball, are Richard R. Oliphant, Dick Heckmann, La Quinta City Councilman Steve Sanchez, and Scott Wilson.
They embrace his stance on term limits and his passion for — and commitment to — veterans. They respect and value his longtime roots in the desert, grasp of the issues and his name recognition.
The quartet of personalities has political moxie, business acumen, military experience, and a tireless work ethic. They are putting their collective wisdom and life experience to help Ball, a 43-year-old political newcomer with endless energy, unseat Democratic Incumbent Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz. He is a Harvard-educated doctor, targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2018. The committee is reportedly targeting 36 Democrat-held districts in blue-collar areas.
Other Republican challengers are Kimberlin Brown Pelzer, Doug Hassett and Stephan Wolkowicz.
Oliphant, president of the Lincoln Club of Coachella Valley, said he has known Ball, a former television anchor and reporter and Realtor, for more than 20 years.
“He has a good reputation and has contributed his time and influence to charities during those years,” Oliphant said in an email interview.
Brown Pelzer is a San Diego County resident who has rented a place in the desert and changed her registration to the Ruiz district, Oliphant said. “Her campaign will be easy to attack as a carpetbagger.”
Neither Hassett nor Wolkowicz has the following nor the ability to raise the kind of money required to win, Oliphant said.
“Several local business people are supporting Dan and trying to get him enough money by January to get him named as a Young Gun by the National party,” Oliphant said. “That opens the door to major funding opportunities. All of them are a long shot, but Dan, I think, has the best opportunity to make it.”
Heckmann, an Air Force Veteran, successful businessman and longtime philanthropist, said he wants to give President Trump as much help as possible from the U.S. House of Representatives. To that end, it is imperative the Republican Party field a candidate, he said.
“Trump’s not getting any help from Raul,” Heckmann said in a telephone interview with Uken Report. “The thing I like about Dan, as a candidate, is that he has great name ID. A lot of people down here know him, so he doesn’t have to fight that. He’s very articulate. He knows the issues, and as I walk around town, as I have in the past, everybody knows him. That’s a huge advantage running against an incumbent. If we’re going to pick somebody to have a chance, it’s going to have to be somebody that the voters know, and I think they know Dan.”
As a veteran himself, Heckmann said he respect’s Ball’s desire to relinquish part of his congressional salary to provide transportation to veterans to their long-distance medical appointments. Heckmann also supports Ball’s call for term limits.
“He’s not an ideologue,” Heckmann said. “That’s the thing I like about him. He understands the district he’s in.”
Wilson, co-founder of Wilson-Meade, a commercial real estate firm, said his relationship with Ball started out as a friendship.
“I really like his energy,” Wilson said in a telephone interview. “There’s’ a lot of work to be done in Washington, D.C., agenda-wise that a majority of the people, including myself, want to see happen and legislated that just isn’t getting done. For me it’s really a sense of frustration and part of that new energy, draining the swamp and getting out of the way of government as it’s been happening the last several years — or not happening.”
Wilson, son of the late, highly respected and beloved Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor Roy Wilson, a Republican, said he considers himself a “conservative Republican,” but is continually frustrated at the inability of Republicans to get things done.
“It was frustrating that Obamacare didn’t get repealed,” Wilson said. “I think an outsider coming in, like Dan, is something that I do support.”
Ball is calling for term limits. His plan calls for both senators and representatives to be limited to 12 years each.
Wilson said he respects Ball’s thinking on the issue.
“It’s not so much the issue but the reason behind his thinking along those lines. Let’s not create career politicians,” Wilson said. “It’s really about getting somebody from the outside in and somebody whose values align more with mine, and even more so, a lot of people in our district.”
Sanchez was not immediately available for comment.
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.