THE INDEPENDENT NEWS
VIRGINIA BEACH — This has been an odd year for all of us, and the pandemic has complicated a great many things, such as running for public office. The Independent News seeks to run robust Q&As for local offices, but this year we reached out to candidates seeking the Republican nominations to run for U.S. Senate or, in our local 2nd District, Congress , and asked whether they would answer some simple questions. Responses for the primary for party nominee to U.S. Senate follow in ballot order. Our newspaper does not endorse candidates for political office. Please click this link to read the responses from the 2nd District candidates.
Residence: Mt. Vernon
Occupation: Soldier & Professor
Military Service/Education Completed: Lt. Col. (Ret.); USMA Class of 1997 (BS, Environmental Science), Masters and Ph.D. in Public Policy
Key endorsements: Former Gov. George Allen (R-VA). Former Gov.Bob McDonnell (R-VA). State Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Va.-28)
Phone: (804) 944-4606
Social media: @gadeforvirginia on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
What are your specific qualifications for this office and as the best Republican nominee? When I was 17, I took an oath to serve the Constitution and protect our rights and way of life, including sacrificing greatly in combat. After losing my right leg at the hip in Iraq, the Army offered to medically discharge me. I declined. The year long recovery from my wounds was hard, but I didn’t let it stop me from thriving. I went on to earn a Ph.D. and Masters in public policy to solve veterans’ issues, later serving in the Bush and Trump administrations and went back to my alma mater, West Point, to educate our future leaders. The oath I took at 17 remains, but my new mission is different. My mission is to serve you. I am ready for the work and know the people of Virginia are ready to elect a servant over a career politician.
What is the most important issue we face and how will you address it in office? My guiding principles in the Senate will be to limit government, promote free markets, maintain a strong national defense and protect individual liberties. This election is about so much more than any single issue facing Virginia. This election is about limiting the role of government in our lives and allowing individuals to thrive and live their lives as they see fit. Virginians, whether in NoVA, the shore or along I-81, have been unfortunately plagued with politicians who believe they get to legislate and dictate every aspect of our lives. My opponent views this race as a way to keep his power. I view it as a way to restore power to the people.
What are your three main policy, budgetary or legislative priorities? Once we win this war against COVID-19, I will fight alongside Virginians to regain our record economic growth, reform a healthcare system that puts patients first and put a stop to corruption from career politicians.
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and because China lied they are suffering. We need to safely get people back to work while following the advice of White House health experts. The Chinese government has officially labeled itself a bad actor and I look forward to fighting against them in the Senate.
Republicans have lost an opportunity to win on healthcare. That ends now. My priority will be to create a system of care that protects people with pre-existing conditions, enables free markets and uses competition and innovation to drive prices down. Virginians deserve to have their Senators help fix these hard problems, not avoid them.
Too many politicians […] go to Washington to line their pocketbooks, not to serve. My first bill in the Senate will be the Stop Insider Trading (SIT) Act. The SIT Act will force members to put their assets in a blind trust and deny them communication with their stockbrokers. Senators are elected to serve people, not themselves. Virginia is fed up with Warner.
Much of our readership is in rural communities. What priorities do you have that will help support agriculture? I am proud to be fighting alongside a President that finally has put American farmers first and is fighting tooth-and-nail to help them with 21st century trade deals like USMCA. However, our rural communities face a scourge from the opioid crisis. After the amputation of my leg, I endured over 40 surgeries and became dependent on opioids in the hospital. The fight to wean myself off these addictive drugs was one of the most difficult in my life- I felt like bugs were crawling out of my arms. My family and I know firsthand the pain opioids wreaks on our families. While we will soon win the war against this pandemic, fighting America’s opioid epidemic will be a top priority of mine in the Senate.
We live in times of intense political division. Are you willing to work across the aisles to address policy, budgetary and legislative goals? How so? When I was serving in Iraq, I was wounded by a roadside bomb that cost me my entire right leg. While treating me, the heroic doctors that saved my life at the Navy surgical center ran out of my blood type and 25 sailors and Marines that I never knew donated their blood and saved my life. The cool part about that story is no one asked, “Is he a Republican? Is he gay? He’s not black is he?” Americans are better than what we see on TV. Now more than ever we need unity. The SIT Act is a prime example of a commonsense, bipartisan piece of legislation Democrats and Republicans can come together to support.
THOMAS A. SPECIALE II
Occupation: National Security Contractor and author of an autobiography, Faith, Family and Fortitude, the proceeds of which go to charity
Military Service/Education Completed: 28 years in the Army and Army Reserves, currently serving in the Reserves as a Chief Warrant Officer 3/ Master Degree in International Relations with a Concentration in Conflict Resolution
Key endorsements: Virginia Watchmen Council and Americas Black Robe Regiment of Virginia [Ed. — One of Speciale’s endorsements has been removed from the original version of this post because the candidate on Thursday, June 18, acknowledged the group did not endorse him.]
Phone: (703) 763-4046
Social media: @speciale4VA on Facebook and Twitter
What are your specific qualifications for this office and as the best Republican nominee? I am pro-life, pro-gun and pro-Trump. I am a recognized national security and counter-terrorism analyst. I have served in the intelligence community for the last ten years. I have zero spin-up time regarding what is going on in the world. I am the only true 2nd Amendment candidate. I have been fighting to defend the 2nd Amendment since before there was a 2A movement. I can go to work for Virginia the day I take office. I am not an “Establishment” candidate. I am not a RINO. I hunt RINOs! Mark Warner has already demonstrated he can beat the Establishment twice. I can beat him because I am a junk yard dog. I am a fighter. Finally, I will prosecute those government officials and employees who tried to coup our President. If I have the great honor to serve Virginia as our next Senator I will do so as a citizen-servant.
What is the most important issue we face and how will you address it in office? There are four critical issues our country is facing and they are all equally important – immigration, mental health, education and criminal justice reform. I can not single out a single issue because they are all interrelated. Some thoughts on what I think we need to do on these issues is available on my website.
What are your three main policy, budgetary or legislative priorities? We need immigration reform. If we can not get reform we must build a wall. We have a mental health crisis in this country not a gun violence problem. Our education system should be the best in the world. Our kids deserve it. But without an American Dream there is no focus on what we are becoming as a country. Finally, we need criminal justice reform because it shouldn’t be a crime to be poor.
Much of our readership is in rural communities. What priorities do you have that will help support agriculture? Access to foreign markets is critical for agriculture in America. I will continue to take on our foreign trade partners to get the fairest and most profitable relations. If they will not play fair then there must be consequences.
We live in times of intense political division. Are you willing to work across the aisles to address policy, budgetary and legislative goals? How so? I will work with anyone who is willing to work with me but what I will not do is compromise on your liberty and freedom. I believe in small limited government. I don’t believe that the government should have as much influence in our lives and I will work to limit the government intrusion in every possible way. So, I will work with anyone who believes this. Working across the aisle and compromising means that we are giving something away to get something we want. I will not compromise on your liberty, freedom and ability to pursue your happiness however you wish to pursue it.
Residence: Lunenburg County
Occupation: Civics & Economics Teacher
Military Service/Education Completed: BA, University of Richmond, May 2000; MS, Longwood University, December 2012
Key endorsements: Rural and Red Political Action Committee, Willowland Farms, and Mom-At-Arms (2A)
Phone: (434) 294-4278
Social media: @BaldwinforUnitedStatesSenate on Facebook, @ baldwinning2020 on Instagram, @BaldwinforS on Twitter and Alissa Baldwin on YouTube
What are your specific qualifications for this office and as the best Republican nominee? I meet the constitutional requirements and then some. I am a native Virginian or 42 years which exceeds the age and residency requirements and a patriotic American which satisfies the citizenship obligation. As a civics teacher, it is my passion and privilege to teach the fundamental principles of American government and the six purposes for our constitutional republic. Having a Republican nominee who knows the Constitution and can connect it in easily understood relevant ways with today’s voters is important when so many people are tired of politics as usual and the power plays of the DC Swamp. My experience as an educator affords me the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to bring people together around a common goal (constitutional federal government) and work together to solve real problems with innovative solutions brought about by teamwork. I have a track record of being a servant leader and I stand ready and willing to be the citizen legislator WE THE PEOPLE in the Commonwealth of Virginia deserve. I am highly principled as a constitutional conservative who values faith, family, and freedom.
What is the most important issue we face and how will you address it in office? The most important issue we face is the attack on freedom, which undermines our status as a constitutional republic. The government is supposed to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not legislate ways to destroy each. The attack on freedom is pressing from multiple angles: religious liberty, medical freedom, states’ rights, human rights, free speech, peaceful assembly, gun ownership. I will address this by standing in defense of our US Constitution and doing what I can to limit federal government power over the people and intrusion into our daily lives. Less government interference brings more freedom.
What are your three main policy, budgetary or legislative priorities? My three main priorities are education reform, deregulation in support of free market solutions to healthcare and business problems, and pro-life legislation.
Much of our readership is in rural communities. What priorities do you have that will help support agriculture? As someone who was raised in a rural community of Virginia and returned there after some time in the greater Richmond area, I know firsthand the challenges of life and work in the often forgotten rural parts of Virginia. I will advocate deregulation to help agriculture diversify. I will introduce legislation to support our farmers seeking expansion with agri-business ventures. I will support bills that provide infrastructure needed to modernize and grow rural communities (broadband initiatives, equipment technology).
We live in times of intense political division. Are you willing to work across the aisles to address policy, budgetary and legislative goals? How so? Part of why I entered this race is my disgust with career politicians on both sides of the aisle who put partisan influence over people elected to serve. I feel strongly that working together across the political aisle helps us get better solutions than working in purely partisan lanes. By focusing on constitutional principles, we can find more common ground. Attacking the other side politically does not get the work done to attack the problems people face day in and day out. I will continue to work collaboratively with all interested stakeholders to address policy, budgetary, and legislative goals. The public deserves nothing less, and a lot better than the status quo.
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