At one point, Dean Andal thought he was through with politics. He has a good-paying job, and he enjoys being home for dinner every night.
But the longtime Stockton Republican's life changed when Rep. Richard Pombo was defeated in the 2006 election by Democrat Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.
Although he's making more money working with a land developer than he will if he's elected to Congress, Andal said he chose to run for McNerney's congressional seat because he doesn't agree with the direction the Democratic Congress is leading the country.
"He seems like a nice-enough guy; he enjoys his job," Andal said of McNerney. "But in my view, he has the wrong ideas." Andal, 48, addressed about 45 people at Wednesday's Lodi Republican Women's luncheon at the Woodbridge Golf and Country Club.
Andal returns to the political arena after spending four years in the state Assembly (1991-94) and eight years with the California Board of Equalization (1994-2002). He has served on the Lincoln Unified School District Board of Trustees in north Stockton since 2004.
Andal pointed to three basic reasons he wants to represent the 11th Congressional District in Washington, D.C. - beefing up defense, cutting taxes and restoring ethics.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton
Contributions for third quarter: $234,869.89
Contributions for 2008 election cycle: $1,144,390.45
Cash remaining: $757,987.96
Local contributors, third quarter: Reid Cerney of Lodi, $350; Susan Peters, $800
Largest contributors: Solidarity PAC of Washington, D.C., $10,000; Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3, Washington, D.C., $10,000; National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Washington, D.C., $9,000; Our Common Values PAC, Chicago, $8,500; AFSCME, Washington, D.C., $7,500; American Association for Justice, Washington, D.C., $7,000; International Association of Fire Fighters, Washington, D.C., $6,000; COLCPE, Washington, D.C., $6,000; MAC-PAC, Danville, $5,000; Majority PAC, Johnstown, Pa., $5,000; Ironworkers Political Action League, Washington, D.C., $5,000; Human Rights Campaign PAC, Washington, D.C., $5,000
Many of McNerney's contributions are from PACs and from Bay Area interests.
Dean Andal, Republican challenger, Stockton
Contributions, third quarter: $101,220
Contributions, 2008 election cycle: $389,388
Cash remaining: $351,118.28
Local contributors, third quarter: Michael Crete of Acampo, $2,300; Annette Murdaca of Lodi, $1,000; Dennis Bennett of Lodi, $1,000; John Ledbetter of Lodi, $1,250.
Largest contributors: Lincoln Club of Northern California Federal PAC, $10,000; New PAC from Visalia, $5,000; 12 contributions at $2,300 apiece.
Andal says a majority of his contributions are from within the 11th Congressional District, most of them from San Joaquin County.
Source: Federal Elections Commission.
Not only are Islamic extremists a security threat to the United States, so are the Chinese and Russians, Andal said. In the face of such threats, he said Congress needs to increase its intelligence budget as well as the military's.
Asked whether the United States should withdraw its troops from Iraq, Andal said after the luncheon that candidates and incumbents shouldn't "pontificate" about military strategy and give away secrets to Iraq. However, Andal admitted that no one is happy with the war's results.
During his speech, Andal also said he supports the tax cuts President Bush put into effect his first year in office in 2001.
While that seems to be at odds with his support for increased defense spending, Andal said it comes down to a sound spending plan.
He said the key to balancing the federal budget is cutting discretionary spending, particularly the most wasteful.
"There are a lot of bridges to nowhere and bee studies," he said, citing examples of potential budget cutbacks.
Andal is also pushing for a more business-friendly climate and a return to ethics.
"I am disgusted with the ethics in Washington," Andal told the Lodi Republican Women. "The scandals are appalling out there."
He said elected leaders need to meet higher standards than the ordinary citizen.
Although he is a loyal Republican, Andal said he will not necessarily toe the party line if the Republican Caucus acts in interests contrary to those of his district. He blames Bush and the Republican Congress that was in power prior to the 2006 election for being as wasteful spenders as Democrats.
Andal added that he opposes pay raises for members of Congress. He pledged to go a step further by actually returning any salary he gets from a pay increase. Andal did just that when he was in the Assembly.