Gary DeLong: Underneath the Suit is a Call to Adventure

gary election

EDITOR’S NOTE: Who are the two men running for Congress in the newly redistricted 47th District? We wanted to know and thought you might too. So we sat down with both candidates and talked to them about everything except the hot-button issues (you can read info on that through our daily political news coverage). In part one of our two-part series on “Getting to Know Your CD-47 Candidates,” reporter Joseph Lapin spent some time with Gary DeLong to talk about the man behind the politics. Stay tuned tomorrow for Alan Lowenthal’s profile. 

“I’m a reasonable person,” Gary Delong said. “Even if we don’t start in the same place at the beginning of the conversation, we might be in agreement by the end.” Gary DeLong, Long Beach City Councilman from the Third District and republican candidate for the 47th Congressional District, sat in a spare office with executive style chairs, a boardroom-style desk and black-and-white photographs of a long-ago Long Beach plastered on the wall.

With 30 years in the telecommunications industry, DeLong rests the success of his campaign on his business experience and his fiscally conservative ideology. At 18-years old, he worked for AT&T; then he moved onto Security Pacific National Bank and Carter Hawley Hale Stores. Currently, DeLong is the president of the RTP Group—a telecommunications company.

“First and foremost,” DeLong said, “I’m a dad and a husband.” DeLong is married with three daughters, and he swears that he has never missed one of his daughters’ volleyball games. He considers his current lifestyle traditional, and even his childhood was, as he puts it, normal and conventional. His grandfather settled in California by way of Illinois, and DeLong is a second-generation Californian.

“Kind of traditional,” DeLong said about his childhood. “Dad went to work. Mom stayed home; and she raised four kids.”

But behind the business and family-man persona and the allegiance to a traditional American life, there is a man who seems to embody adventure. A few years ago, DeLong repelled down the Hyatt Hotel in Long Beach, claiming that the hardest part was the first step. Plus, DeLong was once a member of the ACM (Academy of Country Music), voting for the awards. When he was sitting in the front at an awards show with his daughters once, he met June Carter and Shania Twain. He’s a man always on the go, and when he’s not campaigning or working, he’s playing tennis, golfing and riding his bike. “Anything that involves sitting on the couch, I don’t do,” he said.

For his undergraduate degree he went to California State University Dominguez Hills, and then received his MBA from the University of Southern California.

“One of the things I learned from my education was to embrace change,” DeLong said. “Don’t be rigid. Don’t think that you know all the answers and that it has to be some straight path from A to Z. It could be a circuitous route…you don’t just get to go there on a short cut.” When asked about his greatest adversity, he stumbled a bit. Then he explained: “I don’t look at things as adversity. There are challenges or opportunities to overcome. I can’t think of anything and say, oh gee, here’s a terrible thing that happened. It’s just life.”

What sticks out about DeLong is his adherence to tradition and his love of history. As a hobby, he collects first-edition memoirs from the 1800s. He has a first edition of General Grant’s memoirs and he’s fascinated with the men of the prairie—the pioneers who survived difficult economic circumstances.

Sometimes, though, DeLong breaks from tradition. For example, if elected to Congress, he says he will become a member of No Labels—a movement of Democrats, Republicans and Independents who claim to bypass bipartisanship to create meaningful legislation free from political labels.

When asked how other Republicans view his support of gay marriage and his tendency to claim he’s more moderate than one might expect, he said: “They’re entitled to their opinion. I haven’t asked them. My views are my views. Love me or hate me, my views are my views.”

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