Ramirez's run for Congress has Biblical ties

December 11, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Daniel Ramirez is familiar with the Biblical tale of David versus Goliath.

"Little guy, tall guy; little rock, good shot," he said.

Ramirez, a pro-life Catholic and longtime Calexico resident, is the only Democrat challenging incumbent U.S. House Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, in the March Democratic primary for California's 51st Congressional District.

Ramirez also is the only local candidate, Democratic or Republican, running for election to the U.S. House.

After redistricting, the Imperial Valley will be tacked onto the South Bay/San Diego district represented by Filner. The district will become the state's 51st District.

Like David standing with only a sling before a 9-foot giant , Ramirez is heading into a battle against an imposing foe.


Ramirez doesn't have Washington, D.C., connections to raise money or name recognition in the South Bay/San Diego area, where the majority of the 51st's population lives.

However, like David, Ramirez doesn't seem to be concerned about the tremendous odds he is facing. He is going into the campaign with the heady optimism of a man on a spiritual mission. He said just by running he already has won.

"I consider my campaign right now as a victory," he said Tuesday.

The 57-year-old father of two and former U.S. Marine Corps band bugler has never held political office.

"I don't have a political background. I'm just running as myself and what I represent — moral values," he said.

After deciding to run, Ramirez had to figure out how to define himself.

"It was important to me to put on my ballot designation that I'm a businessman, father and musician — emphasis on the father," he said.

Ramirez said the majority of Democrats in the new 51st will identify with him.

"They have the same conservative social values. They're Mexican and Filipino. I love Filipinos," he said.

He said the Chula Vista area has lots of former Calexicans who will support him and he said he is well known throughout the Valley.

As for Filner?

"He's a very radical liberal. I'm a real Democrat, not a wannabe," he said.

Ramirez owns the San Diego Auto Mart off Highway 98. He sells buses in the Imperial Valley and Mexico.

He feels his familiarity with the economics of the border will help him write and vote on legislation that affects the denizens of the 51st District — a district that encompasses all of California's U.S.-Mexico border.

"I've lived and worked through the peso devaluations. After three devaluations we've come together and gone through this thing," he said.

He said he knows the border better than anyone else running because he crosses it almost every day.

"I think I can make a difference here because I'm a successful family man, businessman and I'm 100 percent pro-life," he said.

Some of the issues he will focus on in the House include migrant rights, the abortion debate and the economics of the border area.

His political slogan dovetails with his pro-life message — "Defend America's future. Choose life" — but also encompasses his concern for migrants, he said.

"We have to do something so that the immigrants don't die."

As for the potential pro-life legislation he would propose, Ramirez said Congress needs to rule that "life begins at conception" and Congress needs to ban stem cell research that uses aborted fetuses.

"We cannot kill lives to make lives," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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