Huey is a businessman who runs and owns two direct marketing companies as well as several websites that provide guidelines for voting. A conservative political activist, he ran with Tea Party backing, donor-backing, and self-financing in California's 36th congressional district special election to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of long term Democratic U.S. Representative Jane Harman. Huey was one of the top two finalists in California's first open primary, which was held on May 17, 2011. He faced Democratic Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn in the general election runoff on July 12, 2011, losing the election by a margin of 54.6% to 45.4%.
Huey grew up in Hawthorne, California, and graduated from El Segundo High School. He attended California State University, Long Beach, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with minors in history and economics.
Huey became wealthy running direct marketing firms. He was said to be an expert in direct mail marketing in the 1990s, later gaining expertise and recognition for his internet marketing. He is president of Creative Direct Marketing Group of Torrance and InfoMat.
Although the 2011 special election was his first run for office, he has been involved in politically related activities for years. He served on party committees including the Republican Central Committee, and has been an informal adviser to candidates. He runs three non-profit voter advisory websites for evangelical Christians including the 2011 California Election Forum Website, which has the stated purpose of "Helping Christians vote for, not against, their Biblical values" by describing the candidates' views on various social issues from the point of view of a conservative Christian.
After college, Huey began work at InfoMat, a mailing list-market segmentation company, and became the owner and president of the company three years later. In 1984, he founded Creative Direct Marketing Group, Inc. (CDMG), a firm that provides direct mail, direct marketing websites, direct response television, infomercials, radio commercials and web-based marketing services. CDMG's client list of more than 200 companies includes many large corporations. Huey pioneered the magalog, created a proprietary direct marketing system and developed the internet landing page as a tool for marketers. He has been recognized for his effective use of viral marketing and list segmentation. His agencies have received 73 marketing awards; including the 2011 Best of Show Email Message WebAward from the Web Marketing Association.
In 1977, Huey launched the industry newsletter Direct Response and in 2001, the Direct Marketing Update e-zine. Articles by and about Huey have appeared in Inc., USA Today, Target Marketing, Christianity Today and Adweek. In 2010 he published an article about the inefficiencies of the United States Postal Service, arguing for full privatization. He has given numerous speeches at the national Direct Marketing Association (DMA) annual meeting: as well as for DMA affiliates and other organizations listed in his company profile. In early 2011, he spoke for the third time at the FreedomFest World Economic Summit in Nassau, Bahamas.
Huey founded three voter information and political discussion websites: JudgeVoterGuide.com, LAVoterGuide.com, and ElectionForum.org. He publishes the twice-monthly Reality Alert online newsletter. He has also appeared on Los Angeles' Fox 11 News as a political analyst, and has been a frequent guest on radio programs for the LA market and Internet syndication.
He has served on local committees, including as chairman (a rotating chairmanship) of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District Measure P Parcel Tax Committee and as president of Peninsula Residents for a Better Community. His op-eds have been published in the South Bay weekly newspaper, The Daily Breeze.
Huey ran for election to the United States House of Representatives in California's 36th congressional district and edged out Democratic Secretary of State Debra Bowen to finish second in the jungle primary, (an election in which all candidates run in the same primary regardless of political party). The election went to a runoff, which was decided on July 12, 2011, when Democrat Janice Hahn defeated Huey with 54.6 percent of the vote to his 45.4 percent. Hahn will serve out the remainder of Democrat Jane Harman's term in the House.
LA Weekly credits Huey with having a "red meat message that Republican voters wanted to hear." He believes the deficit, taxes and regulations on businesses must be cut, and that these cuts will give business owners the incentive to create and bring back jobs. He supports a constitutional amendment that will require Congress to balance the federal budget each year. He says he will oppose pork barrel spending that rewards special interests and will work to defeat wasteful programs. He is opposed to California's anti-global warming law, (AB 32), and believes that the health care law passed under Obama is unconstitutional and that it will destroy businesses. He also supports term limits for Congress. He has said he will not moderate his positions for the general election and that radical changes are needed.
Huey faced 16 candidates in California's first "top two" primary, a new voter-approved open primary for California federal elections in which candidates for all parties appear on the same ballot, and voters—regardless of their registration—can choose candidates from any party. If no candidate receives 50 percent or more of the votes, a run-off election is held 60 days later between the two top vote-getters.
With so many contenders, it was expected that the election would go to a run off as no single candidate would likely receive a majority of the votes. Because the district has been strongly Democratic in previous elections, with Democratic voter registrations exceeding Republican registrations by 45% to 27.5%, conventional wisdom held that the two Democrats, Hahn and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, would compete in the general election. Media coverage had also centered on the two Democrats, ignoring Republican candidates, including Huey. Huey then beat Bowen for second place by more than 750 votes, scoring something of an upset. Huey attributed his strong performance in the primary to the message he directed at independents, Democrats and Republicans who are dissatisfied with the economy. The $500,000 that Huey invested in his own campaign and the direct mail advertising he sent to district homes in the conservative South Bay area also contributed to his victory, according to local sources. He was endorsed in the primary by local business leaders, California GOP congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce and Tom McClintock, and Indiana congressman Mike Pence.
The National Journal said that Huey was still facing long odds in the general election, noting that more than 56 percent of the primary voters cast ballots for Democratic Party candidates, and that DCCC Chair Steve Israel had called the district "staunchly Democratic". Following his primary victory, Huey pledged to spend $800,000 toward his general election expenses. He was hailed as a conservative hero according to LA Weekly, and said of his opponent "She won't know what's gonna hit her".
In early June 2011 a Hahn television ad compared Huey's positions on abortion, Medicare reform and tax cuts to those of Sarah Palin, and quoted Huey as saying that Planned Parenthood is a "murder mill". Huey's campaign consultant criticized the ad, saying it was a negative smear that insults voters' intelligence. When contacted by the fact-checking site Politifact, the consultant clarified that the "murder mill" language was not a quote from Huey, but had been posted on his website by a staffer.
An anti-Hahn campaign video appeared on YouTube on June 14, 2011, that falsely depicted Hahn as a pole dancer with red eyes who is friendly to hip hop gang members who call her "bitch" and pull money out of her waistband. The video generated national attention. Democratic leaders and Hahn called it offensive and sexist. Huey's campaign quickly issued a statement clarifying that "the video has no connection whatsoever to the Craig Huey campaign", agreeing the video was offensive and inappropriate. The California Republican Party also distanced itself from the ad, affirming that the ad was not connected with either the campaign or the state party. The following day, Huey told Politico: "The ad is blatantly racist and sexist and neither racism nor sexism has any place in the public sphere". The video was sponsored by a one-week-old political action committee called Turn Right USA PAC, and produced by Ladd Ehlinger, Jr., described by political analyst David Weigel as a "rogue conservative filmmaker". Subsequently, Hahn's campaign filed a complaint with the FEC, alleging that Turn Right USA and Huey's campaign had engaged in an illegal degree of coordination and communication because, among other things, Turn Right USA's founder was a former Huey campaign volunteer, and the organization shared a mailing address with a campaign sign vendor that Huey had used.
According to USA Today, a poll conducted by the Daily Kos and Services Employees International Union shortly before the July 2011 election had Hahn with an 8-point lead over Huey, (52 percent to 44 percent) with 4 percent undecided.
Huey was first married to Angela Combs; the couple eventually separated and divorced circa 1991. Huey has five adult children from the marriage who have all graduated from college.
Huey and his wife Shelly live in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside the 36th District. (Residency within the district is not required to run for the office, and Huey has indicated his home was once in the district but was gerrymandered out of it). He also believes that redistricting in 2011 will bring his residence back into the district. He and Shelly attend Kings Harbor Church, an Evangelical Christian church. He met Shelly at a Bible studies class. He has served as a youth pastor for junior high and high school students, and as a teacher for single adults.