Andy Caldwell never envisioned himself in politics — actually, for many years, he outright rejected the idea.
He wasn’t interested in giving up time with his wife and seven children — commuting from coast to coast simply not an option.
Over the past 30 days, Mr. Caldwell has been convinced to reconsider. With his youngest child now in college, a pair of Santa Barbara
Republicans approached Mr. Caldwell about running against current Rep. Salud Carbajal for the 24th District’s spot in the U.S. Congress — with the initial text message saying: “Save us!”
“I never had any aspiration or ambition to do this, I’ve been asked before, but our kids were all at home, and I wouldn’t sacrifice my family for that service,” Mr. Caldwell told the News-Press.
“There was nobody challenging Salud that we thought had a chance to beat him. The ultimate reason is that my family and I, and people
that I’m friends with, we literally are distressed at the direction our country is going in.”
Mr. Caldwell — a weekly columnist for the News-Press and radio host on AM1290, the News-Press’ radio station — will not
bring political experience to the table, instead relying on his family’s military background and his own business ventures over the past five decades since moving to Lompoc.
In an email note to supporters released on Friday, Mr. Caldwell
says his focus will be on seven items:
• Set aside partisan politics and consistency ask constituents:
“How may I help you and serve you?”
• Speaking to California’s high poverty rate, he will focus on job creation, stating “the worst
impediments to job creation are overwrought government rules, regulations and taxes.”
• Focus on breaking the cycle of fires and floods that threaten lives, homes and habitat.
• Saving Social Security and Medicare for seniors by defeating “Medicare for all” — something he says will “bankrupt our country.”
• Securing the border, creating a “robust, guest-worker program” and resolving the issue of “Dreamers.”
• Reforming the Endangered Species Act, focusing on the tiger salamander. He also indicates that the Delta smelt will help solve California’s water crisis. He also wants to reopen Lompoc’s Surf Beach permanently, looking to save snowy plovers in the process.
• Oppose the Green New Deal, indicating that it will bankrupt the
country due to high taxation rates.
Mr. Caldwell, a graduate of Lompoc High School (1976) and UC San Diego (1980), has only had two employers over his career, working for Sinton and Brown as well as Union Sugar — two divisions of the same company — from 1980 to 1991. At that point, he chose to leave the company to found The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, known as COLAB.
The company acts as a voice for business and taxpayers throughout the Central Coast, as he has also helped set up COLAB outlets in Imperial, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.
The business was born out of his quest for public service, as his father, mother and sister all served in the military — something that Mr. Caldwell wanted to do as well, but was rejected due to asthma.
His drive stems specifically from the plight of his father, who passed away shortly after a 20-year career in the Air Force. His father was a survivor of the World War II Bataan Death March survivor, only to pass away at the age of 47 due to associated trauma.
“He sacrificed for our country,” Mr. Caldwell said. “And while I wasn’t able to do it in the same way, right now is my
opportunity to serve like he did.”
Mr. Caldwell’s mother worked in the Veteran’s Service Office, while his sister was an Army nurse, eventually helping veterans at the
L.A. Veteran’s Administration Hospital, taking care of walk-in homeless veterans.
Mr. Caldwell, 61, was a registered Democrat until the age of 38, with the past 23 years spent as a Republican.
In talking to the News-Press, he indicated that he feels that Democrats have spent too much time going after President Donald Trump instead of having “real conversations” about “real issues.”
“We spent millions on the Robert Mueller investigation, wasted two years of time when we could have been impacting the people that
Congress is supposed to represent,” Mr. Caldwell said.
Mr. Caldwell says that both parties are guilty of wasting time and energy, not focused on the “every man.”
He even admits to supporting his now-opponent during his time on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
“From time to time, I would give him credit for being moderate,” Mr. Caldwell said. “But now he is just regurgitating all
of the talking points of the extreme wing of their party.”
Mr. Caldwell has also avoided social media as a platform, again pleading for meaningful, bipartisan conversation.
“I don’t even Tweet, I don’t want conversations to happen on the surface,” he said.
Mr. Caldwell and his wife, Linda, have been married for 32 years — and it took a family discussion to confirm Mr. Caldwell’s
“They are all super supportive of the decision,” Mr. Caldwell said. “Now it’s time to get to work.”