Congressional candidate David Harmer said that a lot of issues are important, but you can only have one issue that's the most significant.
"For me, that's controlling federal spending," Harmer said. "I am just passionate about fiscal discipline."
Harmer, 47, is one of six candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 11th Congressional District seat held by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton. The primary election is June 8.
Harmer's platform is similar to those of many Republican candidates for public office — less government, less spending, decreasing the debt, a less expensive health care plan and elimination of the stimulus plan.
When it comes to his passion — controlling spending — Harmer said he puts his money where his mouth is.
"My kids have a nickname — 'the Prince of Darkness,'" he said. "My hobby is going around the house and turning out the lights. We keep our heater pretty low. Now it's set at 66. That's what socks and sweaters are for."
Then it occurred to him that if his four children are old enough to use a computer, they're old enough to be taught how to use Quicken, a free personal finance software. His children no longer ask for money, Harmer said. They just check Quicken, look at their budget and see if they can afford it.
That's how the federal government should operate, Harmer said.
To say the past year was an unusual one for Harmer is putting it mildly. He no sooner lost a congressional election in November when he started another in an adjoining district.
Harmer lost a special election last November by Democrat John Garamendi in the neighboring 10th Congressional District. Just a month ago, Harmer entered the race for McNerney's seat. He admits living outside the 11th District, but he lives only two miles from the boundary. In fact, nearly his entire hometown of San Ramon lies within the 11th.
The 11th Congressional District includes Lodi, most of San Joaquin County, plus Dublin, Pleasanton, Morgan Hill and most of the San Ramon Valley.
It wasn't Harmer's idea to run a second grueling campaign in such a short time, he said.
"I was recruited for the race, and I was recruited by 11th District residents," he said. "I only live two miles from the border. All of my hometown is in the 11th District except for a narrow corner that was gerrymandered into the 10th. It's not like I'm a stranger in the district. We spend most of our daily lives in the district."
During his 2009 election, people made fun of Garamendi running for a congressional seat outside the district he lives, Harmer said, but Garamendi won anyway.
Voters care about where you stand on the issues, not where you live, Harmer said.
Although Harmer's greatest support is from the East Bay end of the district, he noted that Dean Andal, of Stockton, who lost to McNerney in 2008, is one of four chairmen for Harmer's campaign.
"Dean was among the people who urged me to enter the race," Harmer said. The other chairpersons are former San Joaquin County Congressman Norm Shumway, former East Bay Congressman and Assemblyman Bill Baker and former East Bay Assemblywoman Lynne Leach.
David Harmer at a glanceBorn: May 28, 1962, in Glendale.
Residence: San Ramon since 2001.
Famous bloodlines: Father is former California State Sen. and Lt. Gov. John Harmer. David Harmer says he began his lifelong involvement in politics at age 4, when he walked precincts for his father, who won an upset victory in the Glendale-based 21st Senate District in 1966.
Occupation: Attorney and businessman. Previously an attorney for a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, appointed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and in-house counsel for several major financial companies. Also served with President of Excellence through Choice in Education League, a statewide education advocacy group focused on reforming California schools.
Education: Graduated with honors from Brigham Young University Law School in Provo, Utah.
Hobbies: Little League and soccer coach, merit badge counselor for six Scout troops, treasurer and vice president of the Windemere Ranch Middle School Education Fund.
Family: Wife, Elayne, four children ages 8 through 14.
Source: David Harmer
Harmer said he visits San Joaquin County once or twice a week, including Lodi. He has met thus far with business people, Republican Central Committee members and ministerial conferences in San Joaquin County.
Harmer said he raised almost $850,000 for his race against Garamendi and spent all but about $20,000, so any expenses for his race in the 11th District must come from newly generated funds.
Here are some of Harmer's views facing Congress:
— Repeal the stimulus package, saving an estimated $500 billion that has yet to be spent.
— Take repayments by banks, insurance companies and the auto industry and put the money into the U.S. Treasury rather than spend it on other programs. By depositing the money in the Treasury, it reduces the debt by the same amount. It's as if you have the credit card and you buy a little more than you can afford. You don't open the box and return it to the merchant and get a credit on your card.
— Avoid accepting pork money for one's own district to further reduce the federal debt. "If we don't pay on the principal, our children will have to pay the interest."
— Federal money allocated to schools should be spent at school district discretion.
— A health care plan that doesn't reduce the quality and availability to patients. The Republicans have introduced a comprehensive health care plan.
— Opposes the peripheral canal proposal. State water issues should be considered by people who aren't in it for political gain. "I am ready to do that kind of work," Harmer said.