Art Moore surprised virtually everyone when, on the last day to qualify for the June ballot, he announced plans to challenge a fellow Republican, Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove. After chatting with McClintock last week, The Sacramento Bee spoke to Moore about the race for the district that runs from Truckee to Fresno. Moore grew up in Auburn and lives in Roseville. He’s a graduate of West Point and former Army officer. Below is a lightly condensed transcript of some of our conversation.
What is your message ahead of the Nov. 4 election?
I think the entire free world depends on a strong America, and it’s being threatened by an ineffective Congress. To fix that, I represent a new generation of leadership. I didn’t fight for a dysfunctional government run by ineffective, self-centered career politicians. The 4th District deserves to be represented by one of their own and not a career politician who is just looking for a chance to continue his career and doesn’t even respect the district enough to move to it. Congress is broken. We need new leadership with a different set of experiences and a different perspective of public service that puts American citizens first. That’s who I am and what I represent. That’s why this election matters. He’s been a politician his whole life and you can tell. He doesn’t keep his word. He said he would move to the district, and he hasn’t. He said he’d forgo his California legislative pension while taking his congressional salary, and he didn’t.
What’s your take on the state’s new top-two election system and how it’s applying to this race?
I am all for it. It allows safe politicians like Tom to be held accountable. That was impossible in the old system, and one of the biggest problems now with our government is lack of accountability. These career politicians are in safe seats getting re-elected 90 percent of the time. The top-two allows better accountability.
Your campaign has circulated a memo predicting you will pull the majority of Democratic voters. What is your message to (them)?
I want to bring people together throughout the district and solve issues. Tom closes his doors to local leaders and leaves them to deal with the fallout from shutting down the federal government. So, I am a better candidate for every vote in the district. That’s what I tell them. I take my message and I receive support from everyone from tea party conservatives to progressive Democrats. And I am honored to represent all of them in Congress.
What’s your message to the district’s Republicans? I ask that because we know county by county they have sided with McClintock.
My message appeals to all voters in the district … My opponent, all he has is to criticize my (lack of a) voting record, which was a choice of conscience that I followed in the tradition of Patton, Eisenhower and Marshall. Why is Tom so scared about letting the voters decide (between) someone who has never voted and someone who has never acted? I think people will be surprised to find that voters want real world experience and action. And, to Republicans, I have voted more times in the 4th District than Tom McClintock has. And I think when those same Republicans find out that Tom is 57 years old, (and) he’s never bothered to register to vote in the 4th District, it falls apart for him.
You just went through (several issues). Where would you say you differ most with him – on policy or practical things?
I believe in America. I think our greatest days are still ahead of us if we elect the right leaders to get us there. My message is one of optimism, and it also supports our role in the world and the continuing role that we’ve had in being that force in the world for peace, prosperity and freedom. Anything Tom McClintock says about how the military operates, or national security in general, comes from a man that’s never served. He’s never sniffed a combat boot.
Would you point to a specific issue?
National security, but also government in general. District 4 taxpayers work hard, they pay their taxes and they deserve a government that works and a government that functions and to get something back for it.
What about on social issues … how do you differ from him on those?
I fought overseas for the rights of all Americans, not just a select few … Our government has no place in our bedrooms and needs to have less of a role in our lives. Tom’s positions on gay marriage and on a woman’s right to keep her health decisions between a woman and her doctor are contrary to individual liberty and constitutionally limited government.
Where are you on those two issues?
A woman’s health care decisions should be between (her) and her doctor. And, all Americans should be able to live their lives the way they want to live them.
Including (same-sex) marriage?
You have been described as a moderate alternative to McClintock. Is that a fair characterization?
Yeah, I would say so.
In addition to your voting record, one of his criticisms is that you have been inconsistent in your positions … that you are selectively trying to woo support by not being straightforward about your positions with Democrats.
I have been very clear about where I stand on the issues. I take the same message to tea party Republicans that I take to progressive Democrats. I can’t promise voters that I am going to agree with everything. But I can promise that their views will be heard and they will be represented. That’s what I tell every group.
You are new to politics, and some (locals) have asked ‘Why isn’t this candidate running for (county) supervisor or the Legislature?’ Why start with Congress?
I have heard the same feedback. We have the lowest approval rating ever of our Congress, and more and more independent voters, more and more Americans are losing faith in their government. I have a unique résumé where I feel like I can really go and make a difference.
You grew up in Auburn and you recently moved to Roseville. Do you plan to remain here regardless of what happens in November?
Yes. This is where I grew up. This is where my family lives. This is where I want to be. This is where I want to get married and raise a family.