By Dennis Sean O’Brien
John Kimble says he is running for Congress because he’s “just your average Joe.”
He lives in an average house (a two-story rambler), in an average suburb (Silver Spring), and has developed an average paunch from eating too many lunches at McDonald’s.
But Democratic Rep. Albert Wynn’s GOP challenger has a background that is anything but average. The owner of a home- based paging company has been involved in a number of legal battles – civil and criminal – and advocates immigration policies more extreme than Pat Buchanan’s.
Kimble has proposed a 10-year moratorium on immigration, a ban on all gun sales to non-citizens and elimination of welfare and Medicaid to all immigrants, even legal ones, not in the United States before 1985.
“We can’t keep being the orphanage of the world,” said Kimble, 35. “The immigrants that now come here have a terrible disrespect for human life and they’re using the system. We’re not getting the people now that we used to get.”
He also said he wants all juvenile offenders more than 16 years old tried as adults, a national curfew for children, a nationwide ban on “gang attire” in schools receiving federal aid and a return to the basics in education.
Beyond specifics, he said, America needs an attitude adjustment.
“We just need to get back to common courtesy. Too many people in this area now have this chip on their shoulders,” he said. “I just want it so you can go out and walk your dog and not have to worry about getting raped, murdered or otherwise.”
David Paulson, communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party, said while he had to give Kimble credit for running, his chances are not good.
“Does the phrase, `A snowball’s chance in a self-cleaning oven,’ mean anything to you?” Paulson asked.
Voter registration in the 4th District and Wynn’s fund- raising edge will work against Kimble.
There are more than five times as many Democrats as Republicans in the 4th District, which includes inner-Beltway portions of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
And while Wynn’s re-election campaign had $71,300 cash on hand just before the March 5 primary, Kimble said he hasn’t “even tried raising money yet.”
But Chris West, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said Kimble’s youth and determination could help level the playing field.
“He seems to have boundless energy and enthusiasm,” West said. “We’re hopeful he will be able to put together an organization and message that will resonate in the voters of the 4th District.”
Kimble, who lost a GOP primary bid for state Senate in 1994, said he is counting on grassroots support and momentum from his close primary win over Dr. Cesar Madarang to beat his heavily- favored opponent in November.
“The average white guy and black guy are getting the shaft,” said Kimble, who is white. “They want somebody who’s been through the trials and tribulations of life and who would put up a fight” on Capitol Hill.
On at least one issue, Wynn and Kimble agree.
Wynn, 44, of Largo, said his focus this campaign will be on economic concerns.
Kimble said he, too, is concerned with the area’s economy.
The success of Wolf Paging, his home-based paging sales and messaging service, depends on the area’s economic health and consumer confidence, he said.
In this district where federal employees make up about 20 percent of the work force, loss of income from government downsizing has boarded up many storefronts, he said.
If elected, he said, he wants to bring in federal money to resurrect the district’s small business community.
Kimble’s campaign literature reveals other interests and creativity.
Although he said he did not earn a college degree, Kimble describes himself in his literature as a behavioral researcher.
His girlfriend and roommate, Sherry Sturgeon, said he calls himself that because he closely observes his pets’ behavior. He owns six cats, four dogs and a rabbit.
Three of his dogs are wolf-like Malamutes, Kimble said. From studying them and from reading books on wolves, he has drawn some conclusions.
“Family is the most important thing to wolves,” said Kimble. “Humans have lost a lot of that touch with their families. If we all got back to that, society would be better.”
He also describes himself in campaign materials as a “writer of books on wolves.” But none of his writings about wolves have been published, nor has his screenplay been sold, he said.
Kimble, who has never married, said his family life growing up “wasn’t Ozzie and Harriet, but it was pretty much normal. You know, typical middle-class Washington.”
He grew up in the White Oak section of Silver Spring. Sons of a teacher and a banker, Kimble said he and his younger brother graduated from Northwood High School, which is now closed.
He said he wants to introduce legislation to “return dignity, integrity and honesty” to law enforcement, following his experiences with the criminal justice system.
Kimble was found guilty in July 1993 for harassment of his girlfriend’s neighbor. But when Kimble appealed the decision to the Montgomery County Circuit Court, the state decided against continuing the prosecution.
He has also filed at least seven civil suits since 1988. In one, he sued the county government, the county police and the sheriff’s department for $50 million for false arrest and invasion of privacy.
Kimble said he hopes people will be able to look beyond labels in November. “I don’t want people to look at me as a Republican or Al Wynn as a Democrat. It’s just John and Al. Let them decide who’s going to do more for them.”