Here we go again?
I want to thank you for inviting me to discuss my possible candidacy for the 26th Congressional District. It is my hope that after this session you will know me better, understand my mission and choose me as the Republican candidate for this vital Western New York seat in the House of Representatives.
My record is clear. I served in the United States Army infantry for over six years. My unit fought on almost every major battleground for over a year in Iraq; we earned the Presidential Unit Citation. I served among humble and honorable men who were remarkable soldiers for our nation.
I am also honored to have been personally considered for or to have received almost every major award our great nation has to offer for combat valor. I hold a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for my actions in Fallujah. State Senator George Maziarz, through Governor George Pataki, selected me as one of the first inductees into the New York State Veteran’s Hall of Fame and gave me New York State’s highest award for combat valor, The Conspicuous Service Cross.
There can be no greater privilege in life than having the opportunity to serve our nation under fire. There is no greater honor in this world than serving on the bleeding edge of a battle to preserve our fragile way of life. I had the distinction of protecting my family and avenging our citizens at a time of war.
Since leaving the Army, I have been an active and loyal Republican. I co-founded Vets For Freedom, a national organization that has helped seat ten veterans into the House of Representatives. Together, with other like-minded veterans, we built a vast network of young conservatives poised to lead the Republican Party for generations to come.
Vets for Freedom played a major role in the 2008 national election. We spent millions of dollars in twelve states that certainly turned the tide in tough races and stopped the hemorrhaging of Republican seats in others. From our desert battlefields to our continuation of duty at home, my generation and Vets for Freedom has made a difference in the Republican Party.
In 2008, when I ran for this same nomination against the eventual Congressman, Chris Lee, I was faced with a golden opportunity. The Democrat front-runner was also a veteran, and we had the chance to truly bring the hard fought success of the Iraq War front and center into the national dialogue.
When Chris and I became the last two in Republicans in contention, I met with leaders of our Party and former Congressman Tom Reynolds. Together we decided what was best for the Party would be best for the district. It was “not my time” and I decided to bow out of a costly and bitter primary to allow Chris Lee a clear sail into the House of Representatives.
I not only stepped aside, I did something no other primary candidate did for Chris Lee or our Party: I actively supported him.
In fact, I doubled down on Chris Lee. Vets for Freedom endorsed him; I endorsed him on behalf of pro-victory combat veterans. I campaigned across the district for Chris, speaking at veteran organizations all over the region. We spent money on radio advertisements and brought in other veterans to help support his campaign.
So let’s put one issue to rest now: I am a loyal Republican.
My father was a dentist for over 35 years in Orleans County, where I grew up. He could have made four times the money moving his practice into expensive suburbs of Erie or Monroe counties, but he made sure we “grew where we were planted.” He taught me that community and family were the foundations of true wealth. I live his values today.
I am the youngest of four boys. All of my brothers have earned Master Degrees and two of them went to seminary. My mother has had to fight disease for much of her life, but she is truly an incredible example of Christian love.
I am married to a Rochester reporter and we have three wonderful children. We were separated for three long years while I deployed to Germany, then Kosovo and finally Iraq. It was exhausting for us to sacrifice our family for honor of service. Without my family, I would have nothing.
I mention these things because in the most harrowing moments of our battles in Iraq, I thought most of my family. When I returned to civilian life, I became all the more devoted to making a better life for us. In many ways, my devotion to my family has driven my activism and compelled me to serve.
I am especially active in veteran’s causes. In 2009, I co-founded with prominent military bloggers the Warrior Legacy Foundation, an organization dedicated to honoring the legacy of military service. We aim to help teach children to value our nation enough to serve her, just as we have done. I also coordinate veterans’ activity for the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
I believe I am the right person for you to select to represent the constituents of the 26th Congressional District. The 2010 election made it clear: our nation has grown tired of retreaded candidates void of passion and honor. We should heed that warning in New York and consider whether we are truly reflecting the view and wishes of our base.
Today we are a Party that has not won a statewide race in two election cycles while Republicans are winning similar contests in many other Blue States. We need to look at what we are doing wrong. I believe the conventional wisdom about this meeting today is an example of our failings: we are choosing the wrong candidates for bad reasons.
I believe being a Republican is more than just talking about fiscal conservatism, it is walking the walk and acting with integrity. Too often, unprincipled Republicans talk conservative, then go to Albany or Washington and get in bed with liberal, big government interests who betray the electorate. If not, they often engage in personal conduct that betrays voter faith and their oath of office.
For Chris Lee, that game is over. But we still pay the cost.
Today, the voters recognize the beat of the Albany Two-Step and the Washington Shuffle. I will not learn those dances. I put my life on the line in defense of my country and I fought for the men under my command and the oath I swore as an American. When I say something, I mean it. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. And I can prove it.
Our party was ill in 2006. Over the last four years, we have undergone a blood transfusion of fresh conservative voices. Self made Americans; Republicans who understand their constituents because they are of like mind with common backgrounds.
Too often, scandalized Western New York politicians have been in the national news. Eric Massa tickled his way onto Jay Leno and David Letterman; Chris Lee’s shirtless photograph is memorialized on the Internet and will never disappear from our area’s public record.
Time and time again, wealthy candidates who offer nothing more than the ability to self-fund are embarrassing us. Few of them have accomplished much of anything on their own. Some ascend in the ranks floating on piles of their father’s money, not their own.
Sure, they can pay the bills and maybe they get elected. But with no sense of Duty, no sense of Honor, no sense of Country, they often have no moral compass. And they implode.
As your Congressman, I will work to restore the honor and dignity to the office that was squandered by one of those candidates.
Today, this group is interviewing several candidates and the clear favorites are again millionaires who can buy the seat. The same is true for the Democrats – they’ll find their own wealthy candidate. I can’t help but think to myself: Here we go again.
I believe the voters outside these closed doors are thinking the same thing: Here we go again.
I am offering this important panel a candidacy that is a complete departure from this proven model of embarrassment.
The mistakes of 2008 were corrected in 2010, when decorated veterans were elected across the country. LTC Allen West, regarded in 2008 as not good enough for the Republican mainstream, is one of the most popular freshmen in Congress and was the keynote speaker at CPAC this month. And there are many more.
These recent election victories are all proof the electorate responds enthusiastically to genuine war heroes. I submit to you this candidate profile would be especially effective after the embarrassing melt down that our party has suffered in Chris Lee.
My political and philosophical views are clearly conservative. I am unabashedly pro-life, without apologies or compromise. I am a staunch advocate of our 2nd Amendment rights. We also need tort reform to control trial lawyers and unreasonable abuse of our courts.
I am principally opposed to the Stimulus we already lost and any similar economic activity in the future.
I’m a fiscal conservative – I believe Barack Obama’s budget proposals will drive our deficit so high that taxpayers may never recover and my children’s generation will be enslaved by foreign debt. I also believe it is up to the Republicans in the House of Representatives to stop this travesty.
I agree with Rep. Paul Ryan’s vision of the federal budget. I will not vote for any tax increase, especially in the throes of a recession.
I believe the national health care debate is a propaganda war, with Democrats using code words like “lowering costs” as if repeating them constantly will make them come true. We need to overhaul our health care system, but on free market principles, not government control.
Obamacare is a government power grab, pure and simple, and it should be repealed. Lacking repeal in the Senate, or after a presidential veto, the House needs to defund Obamacare, starting with the 1,600 new IRS agents hired to enforce it.
As a freshman, I would model myself after freshman Representative Tom Reed of New York, who spearheaded three cost cutting amendments last week that saved 460 million dollars. He defunded the Presidio Park funding. He eliminated funding for Tijuana, Mexico’s sewer repair. He has plugged multiple holes that resulted in State Department pay abuse.
Clearly economic issues – and jobs, jobs jobs – are at the top of the minds of Western New Yorkers today. But I am also the only potential candidate for this seat who knows what is going on in the Middle East today. The toppling of Mubarak in Egypt; the violent protests breaking out across the region – these issues will likely dominate our national foreign policy agenda for quite some time.
I can be a strong and knowledgeable voice for freedom in that important region while working on behalf of this conservative Republican district in Washington.
I believe the political process in New York, like elsewhere in America, has become dominated by money and greed. Columnist George Will described it as the “Government Class” which includes politicians and their enablers of both parties, who use government as a means to their own employment and financial success, or to accumulate power to achieve political and social goals.
I have a different view – I think government should be limited to what society needs to protect its citizens from harm, to provide for social order, and to minimally regulate commerce for the common good. The Republican Party must remember: our base voters are people who think like me, who respect the commitment and sacrifice combat veterans have made, and who look skeptically at any process which ordains wealthy candidates who are Republicans in Name Only.
I have made my point: selecting candidates based on their bankbook is a mistake. But I believe I am also a candidate who can raise money fast. Already I have received endorsements of five political action committees, most notably Iraq Veterans for Congress, a PAC that was the tip of the spear for electing veterans in 2010.
A Marine like Alario Pantano – a North Carolina Republican Congressional candidate with my candidate profile – raised $800,000 last election. It is important to note that Pantano and many other Iraq and Afghanistan vets raised that kind of money – all at the same time, all in a crowded November election.
In contrast, this special election will focus the eyes of the world on us, and potentially a lot more donors are paying attention. These are men and women who have just received their tax refunds, who are still excited about how they changed the national dialogue in November and who have an appetite for more. My candidacy will be a continuation of their reform.
Do not let anyone tell you Americans who believe in a proven patriot will not offer financial support. Panatano, LTC West and many others proved that false. I believe I can quickly raise the requisite donations to pay for an effective campaign for Congress.
This is a national race, and the candidate profile I bring to the campaign will earn even more national media attention. In the absence of any other campaigns of such consequence, I believe our news coverage may be heightened three or fourfold. This earned media can also drastically increase fundraising from outside the district.
It is time for the seven county Republican Parties of Western New York to stand on principle, not lean on a millionaire’s checkbook. I believe the voters will reward that return to common sense with a Republican victory in this important election.
I am delighted to be invited to discuss my potential candidacy with you today. Like I said, I’d like to get to know each other better so I’m eager to take your questions. Thank you for your time.
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Box 301, 8351 Lewiston Rd #7, Batavia, NY 14020, Ross Howarth, Treasurer
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