None of those career paths ever worked out, however, prompting him to throw his hat into a hotly contested Congressional race.
“Everyone is looking for average Joes — everyone is looking for Superman, and I may just be the one,” said McComak, one of five contenders in the race for California’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin counties and was drawn in 2011 by a citizens commission.
McComak indicated there’s nothing “average” or typical about his goals, which include fining parents if their children fail in school and reintroducing grizzly bears to the Diablo mountain range west of Patterson to boost tourism, restore the environment and “give people a common enemy now that Osama bin Laden is gone.”
McComak admits that his main reason for running for Congress is to impress a girl at his church, the Crows Landing ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he only plans to serve one term before he spends time surfing off the coast of Brazil.
He sums up his top reasons for running in three words — money and women.
“I think that’s why everyone is really running,” he said. “I hope to be an honest politician, and those really don’t exist.”
While some people may question whether McComak has serious intentions, he said his humorous approach does not negate the sincerity of his campaign.
McComak describes himself as a political moderate, and he thinks his centrist approach would make him a unique addition to Congress.
“People always ask, ‘What party are you in?’” McComak said. “I tell them I’m American.”
He has expressed reservations about “corporate America,” which he says tend to care more about profit margins than individuals, but he also sees corporations as necessary.
And though he hopes to reintroduce grizzlies to the state after the last one was killed in California in 1922, he said he expressed reservations about environmental regulations, which he said are not working. For instance, he thinks the Delta smelt, a threatened fish whose preservation has prompted curtailments of farm water south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, has been used as a political tool.
He hopes to solve the state water challenges through a check valve — a two-part mechanical device that allows water to flow in and out — in the Carquinez Straits near Benicia that would stop brackish water from entering the Delta from the San Francisco Bay.
McComak said he is an advocate for science in general, and he wants the government to throw financial backing behind advances in technology.
“I’m a Trekkie, so I want to see science used 100 percent,” he said, alluding to “Star Trek.”
He also wants to see the U.S. government pull troops out of Afghanistan.
However, he is not so opinionated about some other topics of the day.
He told attendees at an April 11 candidates forum in Modesto that he did not know what the Affordable Care Act was — the Obama administration’s health care package that is being evaluated by the Supreme Court.
“I still don’t know what it is, exactly,” McComak said last week. “That’s fine. I don’t think most Americans understand what it is, either.”
Challenges on the trail
McComak said early in his campaign that he hoped to get endorsements from both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He still would love to accomplish that feat, but said Obama’s endorsement might be particularly difficult to obtain.
Early on, he tried talking to every constituent in the newly redrawn 10th District, but he said he hit a mental block along the way, prompting him to take a retreat in the mountains. After he returned, he focused on specific neighborhoods, particularly those that had the most U.S. flags.
McComak’s previous political experience consists of serving as senior class president in high school and in student senate roles at California State University, Stanislaus, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 2007.
His stint as class president was enough to impress his campaign manager, fellow 2003 Patterson High School graduate Dana Hunter.
“He’s a super-smart guy and super-intelligent,” Hunter said. “Every time I’ve dealt with Troy, he’s always been able to find common ground with people with different opinions.”
Hunter estimated that as of now, McComak had a 50-50 chance of being one of the top two candidates during the June primaries. He hopes those odds will increase to 80 percent as the election draws closer.
“Troy does say some off-the-wall things, but that’s just how Troy thinks,” Hunter said. “We’re trying to get him to tame it down a little bit, but at the same time, I think that’s the outside-the-box thinking that’s always been Troy.”
Unity and polarity
While McComak said he wants to bring the people on the political left and right together, he doesn’t want to be a career politician. He expects he will make some people angry and does not plan to run for a second term.
“I’m going to occupy Congress,” he proclaimed.
McComak said his political campaign was partially motivated by some snags he ran into with the city of Patterson after he tried to build a paintball field at the T.W. Patterson Sports Complex.
He said he now has a better grasp on the bureaucracy with which businesses must contend. He sought to run for Congress rather than for a Patterson City Council seat because Congress is above the city, and he operates at a “higher level,” he said.
“The problems are bigger than just the local level,” he said. “Regulation trickles down.”
The fact that he is making a run for Congress while still living with his parents shows that someone in any position in life can make a difference, he said.
McComak has also been charged with nine felonies, including charges of sexual battery in 2010 and charges related to a hazing activity while he was in high school.
But McComak noted he was acquitted of all charges. In the sexual battery case, he noted that the plaintiff was found to be lying during pretrial hearings.
“I learned that the court systems, when your constitutional rights are trampled on, can work,” he said.
McComak faces four candidates, two of whom have the backing of one of the country’s major political parties.
• Republican candidate Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, is a congressman in California’s soon-to-dissolve 19th Congressional district. Denham previously represented the Patterson area as a state senator for eight years.
• Democratic challenger Jose Hernandez, a native of French Camp, is a former astronaut who gained the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in its Red to Blue campaign, being designated as one of the party’s top-priority candidates in the U.S.
• Chad Condit, son of former Rep. Gary Condit, D-Ceres, is running as an independent candidate. He has served as a legislative consultant and chief of staff for a member of the state Assembly.
• Democrat Mike Barkley of Manteca, who includes in his platform a repeal of the 2nd Amendment, is running as a self-proclaimed “progressive” candidate.
McComak still thinks he has a shot at becoming one of the top two candidates following the June primaries.
“A lot of this is faith,” McComak said. “I feel like I’m called to do this.”
While McComak said some of his ideas might be frightening to the older generations, he would be happy to join the ranks of Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., as part of a more youthful breed of politicians.
“The younger generation — we do have a voice,” he said.
And while Hunter said the presence of Condit as an independent candidate poses a challenge to McComak’s campaign, he said Condit was running a more traditional campaign, while he felt McComak was more independent.
“The most important thing (McComak has) is common sense,” Hunter said. “We’ve gotten so far into Democrat-Republican, right-left, that common sense is no longer prevailing in Washington, or in fact in the state.”
• Jonathan Partridge can be reached at 892-6187, ext. 26, or firstname.lastname@example.org.