Diane Harkey On The Race For The 49th Congressional Seat
Since Republican Congressman Darrell Issa announced he would not seek re-election in the 14th Congressional District the open seat has been seen as an opportunity for Democrats and a must win by Republicans. The forty ninth district covers San Diego's North coastal communities from La Jolla to Camp Pendleton and includes parts of Orange County. In our series of interviews with candidates running for office. Hey PBS reporter Jade Heineman spoke with Republican Diane Harkey who was running against Democrat Mike Levin for this seat. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks for having me. All right I want to start off I have to know why are you running for Congress while I'm running for Congress kind of replace the dysfunction in Washington D.C.. I've worked in the legislature I've also worked on State Board of Equalization in very very minority positions because I'm a Republican and a very very Democrat state. I've been able to make things work and to get things done. I think we need that. I also grew up in California and I love this state. It gave me my opportunity between the community college system and the U.S. where I graduate as an adult. Worked my way through school. It was just a marvelous experience. I don't think I would have had anywhere else I wanted to be sure that those opportunities are are preserved for those that come after us and those that are are around now trying to do the same thing. And now you live in Orange County most of the voters live in San Diego County. They are Democrat. How are you making the appeal to them. Well you know I've served San Diego County for about ten years. When I was in the legislature I did the dual counties Orange and San Diego County so it was North San Diego County which we have now. And South Orange County and in the Board of Equalization I have served four and a half counties of which San Diego is a huge part of that. We did a lot of work in San Diego. There were a lot of taxpayer advocates as well as businesses and individuals that had problems all the time so we were in San Diego quite a bit. I actually had three staff stationed in San Diego. And so what are some of the key issues that you want to focus on if elected. Well I want to focus on job creation and retaining what we've got. The economy is really going strong. We have a fabulous community. This 14 district is really a little hotbed of industry and R and D between biotech bio com. The the life science industry the military military does a lot of R and D some military contracting NIH funding really important to this district. And I think it's so marvelous. The you know the new products they're coming up with that they can actually sell out in the market or sell to a major firm and go with work with the hospitals they're doing all sorts of research with newborns and for diseases that were formally just you know treatable they can now find cures. And where do you stand on healthcare. Health care is a huge issue. So I want to be sure that we get it right. And I don't think either party right now has it right. I am not for a single payer. I'm not for Medicare for all. Medicare is underfunded and I don't see sticking more people in your Medicare. That's a promise that we've made to seniors and people wait for Medicare because it's a good program but that doesn't mean we have to cripple it with adding more. I think we just need to make some revisions. We need to probably beef up some of the ACA were needed in the states that it works. Maybe there is some kind of you know independence for each state to do what it needs to do. I think crossing state boundaries for insurance coverage and allowing a little more choice in those areas you know there's just there's there's a multitude of things. I'm not a healthcare expert but I do use health care have raised a family and I know how important it is. Now President Trump recently endorsed you on Twitter. Yes. Have you responded to that at all. Have you put that on any of your social media networks or we have. Yes we have. You know I I think that anybody would be foolish not to take a presidential endorsement and I am very very proud to have that. The issue is you know I've been asked well do you want to come out. Well probably not. California's not his state but I think having Obama visit Orange County did more to boost my voter turnout than anything. So I'll just say though it works. It cuts both ways. Now on your Web site you say Doc recipient should be allowed to stay in the country but at the same time we've also said that if Trump wants a wall let them have his wall. How do you justify spending taxpayer money on President Trump's border wall. OK we have 15 miles of border wall right now and we're actually reinforcing some more of the areas that are not secure that the Border Patrol needs to be secure the border patrol can turn into target practice. If they're down there patrolling and they don't have the proper security. Now wall isn't for the entire border. There are some new you know high tech vices that can be used to monitor but we have we. California has a huge problem with human trafficking. Drug running and money laundering. And anybody that doesn't think that is nuts. And we also have ponga boats now coming up the coast that are being stopped by our our police and they can't hold them because they can't cooperate with ICE so these people are escaping out into the neighborhoods. This is not a safe situation and the you just had an article on the increase in panga boats because they know that's an easy way into the country. So we need a wall for security. We have to have that we have 22 new lanes and Sanusi Seadrill where people can walk shop whatever they need to do with the proper documentation and then we have a lot of traffic back and forth. The ports are opening up there's been articles about all of the innovations in technology and what they're doing to get people through faster and to be sure that fast but we don't want the bad guys here. We do not want to become cartel a foreigner. And we have to be sure that we can control that border. And so whatever it takes if it's a wall if it's if it's a high tech technology if it's if it's reinforcing the border patrol adding more positions whatever it is it takes but we have to be sure we have security to protect our people. So the environment we want to take it out of there. So it's a big issue for voters along the coast in the 49 in the San Diego Union Tribune interview you were asked whether you believe climate change is caused by humans. And your answer was a bit unclear so do you think it's caused by humans. Where do you stand on that yes or no. There's humans there's also natural disasters you know volcanoes other things that can ruin your whole day. So I think that I think that there is you know there is probably scientific evidence I can't say for sure. I'm not a scientist that climate change is real that's occurring and I'm sure it is. But my point is always that I want to be sure that what we're doing is not so draconian that people can't stay here live work and play in the state that I love. And when we're putting such draconian regulations on California and trying to implement them across the nation countries like China and India are spilling out much more. Than we ever could hope to. I really think that we need to kind of reassess and figure out a cost benefit of it. And also you know we've done marvelous things in my lifetime I've seen wonderful things happen with climate not with climate but with with environmental movement. And so I think there's still room we have a lot of room to grow. But I think we need to be sure people can afford it and can live here because if they can't if they can't feed themselves if they can't pay for their electricity bills if they can't have service that they need to live here they'll either leave or they'll be they'll be in poverty. And I don't want to see that. Another big issue in the area is the San Onofre nuclear waste plant. Any ideas on how we get them moved anything viable. And while yes. Yes. It's kind of ongoing. This is a process. You know it's not going to happen overnight but what we do need to have is cooperation. We need to have cooperation so that when we need the votes off the congressional floor and need 60 votes out of the Senate we get there we need 219 votes in Congress to get the thing to the Senate and then we need 60 votes out of the Senate. So if California's constantly playing resist and we don't even have our whole delegation on board to get rid of it we're we're lacking in cooperation I think between the parties and that's where I think I can help them we can work together to get this done. We need to move we need to move San Onofre to the top of the list because it is a decommissioned plant. There are other decommissioned plants. This one happens to be where it is on the coast. I think we can make a case if we can get all 53 of our Congresspeople and our two senators onboard to do some heavy lifting to try to negotiate something across the country. All right now I want to go to this. You've accepted money from the National Rifle Association. But would you support any kind of gun regulation on a federal level. I'm I'm a true believer in the 10th Amendment which is states rights. I really do believe that what works in Massachusetts for guns is not going to work in Montana. I think you have to have the states weigh in. I don't support anything on the national level at this point. And I've I've not I don't own a gun. But I am a strong Second Amendment person and I don't really want to give up a second amendment right. I think you know people growing up today would not give away their car keys or their cell phone but they'd give up their Second Amendment and I think it just needs a little rethinking. There's a lot of things we can do to make for maximum safety in schools in other places. Your opponent Mike Levin has accused you of funding your campaign with money from your ex husband's business which she was convicted of breaching his fiduciary duty and elder abuse. Is there any truth to that. OK here's the deal Mike likes to slam me because he can't run them policy. He has never been elected. He's never cast a vote. All he's ever done this pad his own pockets with for mental policies for projects that he lobbies for. So I'm sorry I have you know I have a clear voting record here. I was dismissed with prejudice by the plaintiffs that means we're sorry we made a mistake and we won't do it anymore. So if my quest to continue to talk about this I'm willing to take it on. But he's an attorney. He knows exactly what he's doing and he just doesn't want to talk about his own record. And right now a recent poll has about 10 points behind Mike Levin. What's the strategy at this point. OK that's not a true poll. Oversample Democrats hugely. I mean that is what New York Times poll. OK we did our own analysis and this is neck and neck and I'm not happy about that but it is neck and neck. There is you know the lead do a sampling where there's more Democrats tons more Democrats than actually show up for election then yeah you're going to get the great poll. But I don't even think that poll is going out anywhere except in little local news blogs. And of course Mike's bragging about it. But I know we are neck and neck. We've done our own polling. All right Diane Harkey thank you so much for joining us. Thank you and I look forward to representing the forty ninth and I will serve you with distinction. Thank you. Thank you. For our interview with opponent Mike Levin. And for more of our election coverage go to KPBS dot org slash election.
In our series of interviews with the candidates running for office in the November election, we speak with Diane Harkey of Orange County, a member on the Board of Equalization, who is running to represent the 49th Congressional District, which stretches from Del Mar to Dana Point.
The 49th District race is one of the most closely watched races in the nation as Democrats aim to flip the seat in an effort to take back control of the House.
Harkey is running against Democrat Mike Levin, an environmental attorney from Orange County. The winner will replace Republican Darrell Issa, who is retiring at the end of his term.
While registered Republican voters outnumber registered Democrats, Hillary Clinton won the district by seven percentage points in 2016.
Q: Why are you running for Congress?
A: I’m running for Congress to replace the dysfunction in Washington D.C. I’ve worked in the Legislature. I’ve also worked on the State Board of Equalization in a very minority position because I’m a Republican in a very Democrat state and I’ve been able to make things work and get things done and I think we need that.
Q: If elected, what are the key issues you would focus on?
A: I want to focus on job creation and retaining what we’ve got. This 49th District is really a hotbed of industry between biotech, biocom, the life science industry, military contracting, NIH funding is really important to this district.
Q: What's your stance on health care?
A: Healthcare is a huge issue. I don’t think either party right now has it right. I am not for single payer. I am not for Medicare for all. Medicare is underfunded. I think we just need to make some revisions, we need to probably beef up some of the ACA where needed. Maybe there’s some kind of independence for each state to do what it needs to do. Maybe crossing state boundaries for insurance coverage and allowing more choice in those areas.
Q: What’s your stance on the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant?
A: This is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight. But what we do need to have is cooperation so that when we need the votes off the Congressional floor and need we get 60 votes off the Senate, we get there. We’re lacking in cooperation between the parties and that’s where I think I can help. We need to move San Onofre to the top of the list because it’s a decommissioned plant. I think we can make a case to do some heavy lifting to try to negotiate something across the country.
Q: Would you support gun legislation at the federal level?
A: I’m a true believer in the 10th Amendment, which is states rights. I believe that what works in Massachusetts for guns is not going to work in Montana. I think you have to have the states weight in. I don’t support anything on the national level at this point. I don’t own a gun. But I’m a strong Second Amendment person and I don’t want to give up a Second Amendment right.
Candidates answered with a YES, NO or OTHER, as well as a short explanation for each question, which can be viewed by clicking on the boxes below. If the box displays an N/A, that means the candidate chose not to respond.
When applicable, responses will include a date that marks if and when a candidate changed their answer.