Ken Calvert, 69, incumbent Republican
Calvert, the longest-serving GOP member of the California congressional delegation, was first elected to represent the Inland Empire in Congress in 1992.
Supporters praise the Corona native’s continued presence and accessibility to the district as well as his work to secure funding for regional priorities, including transportation and flood control projects, infrastructure upgrades and facilities military in the region. He also authored the legislation that created the E-Verify system, which employers can use to verify the immigration status of new hires.
His tenure is not without controversy. In 1993, police caught Calvert with a prostitute in his car; he was not charged and later admitted to the incident. The following year, during Calvert’s re-election campaign, one of his allies denounced his Democratic rival as homosexual, and Calvert campaign sends voters pink and purple mailers implying his opponent’s sexuality disqualified him from representing the region.
Calvert voted for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, and against the repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gay servicemen. He points out that his opinions were shared by most politicians of the time. This year he voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the 1996 law, and he says the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage should stand.
Calvert said he does not support a nationwide ban on abortion and the matter should be left to the states. He said he believes women should have the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest or if the woman’s health is endangered by the pregnancy, and that he opposes abortions in the third trimester.
In the hours after the Capitol was attacked by a pro-Trump mob, Calvert voted against certifying the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral college votes, but he acknowledged that Biden had legitimately won the election. Calvert, who was endorsed by Trump, voted against his impeachment for inciting Jan. 1. 6 insurrection.
Calvert has raised nearly $2.4 million this election cycle and had $1.4 million in the bank as of June 30, according to documents filed with the FEC.
Will Rollins, 37, Democrat
Rollins says he became interested in public service after watching the World Trade Center collapse on September 29. He was born on December 11, 2001, when he was a high school student in South Bay. He wanted to join the military after the terror attacks, but at the time he was living like a closeted gay man, he said, and feared exposure.
Rollins became a lawyer and went to work for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, focusing on counterintelligence and domestic terrorism cases in Southern California. His portfolio included pursuing Jan. 6 insurgents.
He is among the few Democratic congressional candidates to put the Capitol seat at the center of their campaigns, saying the insurgency and Calvert’s votes to reject electoral votes for two states that supported Biden are among the reasons he has decided to quit his job last year and run. It also prioritizes countering misinformation and polarization; protect reproductive, voting and LGBTQ rights; and working to fight climate change and create green energy jobs in Riverside County. He called the Supreme Court’s removal of federal protections for abortion “horrifying” and supports the codification of reproductive rights.
The Calvert campaign aims to portray Rollins as a baggage handler, noting that he first voted in Riverside County in June. Rollins grew up in Manhattan Beach and was registered to vote in Los Angeles County from 2003 to 2021. He moved to Palm Springs this year from Canyon Lake, which is also in the district.
Rollins was at a financial disadvantage in the latest campaign fundraising disclosure reports: He raised nearly $1.5 million and had about $479,000 in the bank as of June 30, according to FEC filings.