At age 37 and married only a month, Kevin Calvey volunteered for deployment in Iraq. When he returned to his wife, Toni, in Oklahoma City a year later — 2008 — he restarted his private law practice but was soon alarmed by the “dire situation” of our nation. It was then that Calvey decided to run for Congress from the 5th Congressional District of his hometown.
Calvey, a 1988 graduate of the University of Dallas, is one more unapologetically pro-life Catholic running for national office. Last year we profiled Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Joseph Cao (R-LA), both of whom went on to win seats in Congress.
Before the general election, however, Calvey faces four challengers for the GOP nomination. Of the five candidates, Calvey told me over the phone, “I am the most conservative and the most pro-life.” When I asked him whether he was concerned about being hurt politically by his outspoken defense of life and marriage, his response was quick, “This is why I got started in politics in the first place; if it hurts me, so be it.”
A graduate of Georgetown University Law School, Calvey’s year in Iraq was spent prosecuting terrorists for high crimes in Iraqi courts. Bombs were often heard exploding nearby as he worked his cases, and he received verbal death threats on several occasions by members of al-Qaeda.
His Iraq experience has led Calvey to have very definite views about foreign policy: “I was face-to-face with over 100 terrorists — many of them will never quit trying to kill us. We must engage them effectively before they overcome us and change our way of life.”
As a fiscal conservative, Calvey laments the overspending of the last administration but says with Obama it has gone “from bad to worse.” “The level of our national debt is unsustainable and immoral,” he told me. To illustrate, Calvey used the example of his ten-month old daughter, Anastasia, who was born being $30,000 in debt by virtue of being a future taxpayer.
When asked what the key issue will be in the upcoming nomination battle, Calvey answered, “The voters are wondering who they can actually trust.” He sees himself in a better position than his opponents to fill that need, since he represents no special interests and is a reform-minded politician ready to oppose the growth of government and its intrusions on individual and family freedom.
For example, Calvey completely rejects a government takeover of medical care: “A government solution is almost always worse.” Instead, he proposes a tax break to individuals who purchase their own health insurance to provide incentive for controlling consumption and creating portability. He also advocates the purchase of health insurance across state lines, as well as tort reform.
Calvey is no political beginner. His first experience in politics was as an intern at National Right to Life in Washington, D.C. He was elected to the Oklahoma legislature in 1998, the first Republican and Catholic ever to represent Del City. He joined the Army National Guard in 2003, and after losing in his first run for Congress in 2006, decided it was time to go to Iraq. His wife rather remarkably agreed that this was the right thing for her new husband to do after being married only a month. “We talked almost every day on the phone, which was harder for her than for me.”
Whoever wins the GOP nomination in the 5th Congressional District of Oklahoma will very likely win the general election and take his seat in Congress. This district, which includes Oklahoma City and a few adjacent cities to the east, has been heavily Republican since the 1970s. Kevin Calvey may well be joining the new wave of pro-life Catholic members of Congress who are setting a very different example from the generation symbolized by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.