How I Came To Choose My 2016 Candidate

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Presidential Candidate Montage cover

 

There are now, in my estimation 14 candidates for the GOP nomination. Of course, there are the respectable, but unknown scragglers like Skip Andrews and AFFT (FairTax) member Kerry Bowers. But as for real, financed, declared candidates that have a chance to make the debate stage, I count 14. (UPDATE 8.5.15 – there are now 17) Everyone who knows me is aware I have settled on my candidate, but few know why, or how I came to this conclusion. But let’s start out by considering the candidates, and the observations I’ve made of each one.

My premise for considering a candidate may be nuanced, but in short, a few principles are non-negotiable:

  • They must have a respect for the Word of God, Christians in general and a sensitivity to faith. (They don’t need to actually BE one, but it’s preferable)
  • They must be pro-life and have a record of action opposing abortion.
  • They need an understanding of the entire constitution, and a logical, strict adherence to it.
  • They should have executive experience that is commensurate with the Presidency. They need a comparable record.
  • They may not need executive experience to be qualified, but I want a proven record, with proven decisions, and results.
  • They should always have a liberty-first instinct, beholden to a free market and free people.
  • They should be good men or women of high repute. I want a leader others respect.
  • They need the ability to lead… to get others to follow them in an organization. This is redundant but needs clarification. Leaders are not the loudest, or the biggest thinkers. They are the doers that inspire.

 

The practical candidates for the 2016 GOP nomination are:

(Presidential announcement videos are linked – watch each one)

 

benBEN CARSON

Dr. Ben Carson is a noted author, motivational speaker and conservative voice in the GOP. But he is most widely known as one of the premiere pediatric neurosurgeons in the world. He performed the first brain separation of siamese twins, and led the prestigious Johns Hopkins neurology hospital.

As a man, as a Christian, and as a representative of the conservative cause, I respect him. He is famous for his repudiation of President Obama’s signature Affordable Healthcare Act and other policies during a National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. It is worth watching, and enjoying the President and his First Lady try to not show their irritation.

Nonetheless, his politics are not ideal in an increasingly conservative GOP.

  • He supports fingerprint lock requirements on all guns. The constitution gives the feds no such power.
  • He is dismissive of parental opt-outs from vaccines. While I support general vaccination, the government should have no such power to compel obedience.
  • Despite saying the 2nd amendment is important, he said it’s geographically-sensitive. His clarification came after massive uproar and is, frankly, not believable.
  • He supports raising the minimum wage, not even as a political move, but a philosophical belief. He doubled down at the CNN Republican debate in September 2015, when he called for two minimum wages, indexed to inflation.
  • Ultimately, despite his wonderful, unashamed evangelical, bootstraps vision, he has no executive experience for the job in which he’s a candidate. He has never drafted legislation, won over a caucus, persuaded politicians, or led a political fight.

 

JebJEB BUSH

The younger brother of President George W Bush (no. 43) and son of President George HW Bush (no. 41), John Ellis Bush is arguably the most conservative out of the three. As a young man, he did everything from build homes, churches and medical centers to spending time in the private sector as an entry-level worker to management. He is known as a faithful communicator, loyal friend and deep thinker.

As Florida governor, he was consistently conservative, pushing for entitlement reform, holding the line on tax raises, reducing the overall employment of the state while disbursing programs to local entities. He was the foremost representative of conservative education reform, and it led to significant gains statewide in achievement for all students. He is an early purveyor of school choice, which has now become a national phenomenon that has spread to over a dozen states.

Despite the Breitbart-induced mania over his “act of love” immigration stance, I found his words very responsible, balanced and his approach is sound. He has been unfairly, an dishonestly attacked by conservative sites I used to call home, and a shameful parade of obfuscation and inaccurate reporting have led to a torrent of opposition to a Jeb nomination. if you have time to watch the entire 9 minute “act of love” interview, you should. You’ll see why I see the new Breitbart as a tabloid, rather than a news source. In fact, Jeb Bush wrote the following in his book “Immigration Wars,” with Clint Bolick, that most conservatives would find refreshing. Unfortunately, most have been misled to believe that he could never have said it: “The first step in obtaining legal status should be to plead guilty to having committed the crime of illegal entry, and to receive an appropriate punishment consisting of fines and/or community service. Permanent residency in this context, however, should not lead to citizenship. It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES — in this case, that those who violated the laws can remain but CANNOT obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship.”

Nonetheless, I have decided against his nomination for the following reasons:

  • Yes, he’s a Bush. While he’s probably the one Bush we should have had above all the others, we’re “bushed out.” Sorry, but it’s a reality.
  • He is a bit stiff. While he’s brilliant on policy, able to make hard decisions and has a grounded moral center (Terri Schaivo)
  • While his education credentials are strong in Florida, he supports a post-Florida development inspired by his success, Common Core curriculum and implementation (85% copyright and all). While it’s not a deal breaker, and he acknowledges that the U.S. Dept of Ed needs to only be advisory, he does not follow the GOP plank that calls for closing this 1979 atrocity left over from the Jimmy Carter years. He has ideas for how to use it, instead.
  • Jeb’s instinct appears to be embracing “conservative” progressivism. Meaning, he accepts a government role in doing good, but trying to do it better and cheaper than the Democrats do. That’s not good enough for our much more conservative base this time.
  • Despite my concerns, I feel that his eight years of leadership as governor of Florida have proven his conservative bonafides, and he would be a good president. If only…

 

TedTED CRUZ

Senator Cruz got my attention early in his senate primary against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Of course, he won that primary with a commanding 13% lead, and went on to become Texas’ most conservative senator, perhaps ever. What started out as a nascent campaign that couldn’t get more than 34% in Texas’ first senate primary, he ended strong, snapping up nearly every independent group out there, even a few notable writers like George Will, and edging Dewhurst and his $13 million machine.

He’s a good man, smart as a whip, a Princeton and Harvard Law chum with the respect of his liberal professors, even Alan Dershowitz who stated Cruz was one of his “smartest students.” Few have considered the constitution’s purpose as well as Cruz has, and feels it’s possible to do it again today. Still, I cannot support his candidacy for POTUS.

  • He has absolutely zero executive experience. He has never run a government, or had to build an administrative team or make an organization decision resembling those made by governors or presidents. In fact, technically, he has less government and legislative experience than Barack Obama did at this point in his career.
  • For all his genuine adherence to the constitution over the coarse of his career, Cruz seems to have taken a step back since hitting the big time. He once suggested a federal mental health database for handgun background checks. He has also passed only two bills since entering the Senate nearly three years ago. They were essentially slam-dunk, unanimous bills, yet he uses these common sense bills as a sign of his “bipartisanship.” Cruz is not known for being able to get things done. Simply, he’s not a leader.
  • On “birthright citizenship, Cruz again flip flopped on an important issue. I agreed with his original statement as a Senate candidate in 2011. But after the 2015 campaign was under way, he flipped his focus to changing the very thing he said should not be focused on only three years before. In an interview in 2011, Cruz said, “Look I have spent my career defending the Constitution. The 14th amendment provides for birthright citizenship. I’ve looked at the legal arguments… those arguments are not very good. I think it’s a mistake for conservatives to be focusing on trying to fight what the constitution says. I think we’re better off securing the border.” But on August 19, 2015, Cruz told radio show host Michael Medved, “Absolutely. We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally. That has been my position from the very first day of my running for the Senate.” Really, Ted?

Ultimately, I enjoy Cruz as a Senator. He should remain one. Perhaps I would only suggest he become a productive one. Questions about his time in the Senate revolves only around two unanimous bills he was given a chance to pass. He’s mostly just a talker. And as president, I fear he would merely be our version of President Obama – ideologically pure, but divisive. I do not want that kind of President.

 

trump (1)DONALD TRUMP

Trump is perhaps the only candidate I cannot take seriously, cannot respect in any way and would get me to flat out lambaste him without end. This gentleman is not a politician, has not ever been responsible for the public lives of anyone, has been a noted Democrat over the decades and held at least three positions on almost every issue, from gun control and single payer health care to abortion and immigration. The guy doesn’t just swap positions, he flip-flop….flips.

  • Trump is such a petty businessman, he sues over EVERYTHING… things like airport noise ($100 million in Jan, 2015), partners in Miss USA ($500 million in July, 2015), and even those terrible enough to misunderstand his net worth ($5 BILLION… in 2006). God forbid. In 2012, he sued Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin for claiming his pageant is “rigged” and “trashy.” This is just the last few years. He literally uses the legal system like a bully.
  • Only three years ago, Donald Trump said he supported granting citizenship to “30 million” illegal immigrants. And he wasn’t exactly articulate about it: “You have 20 million, 30 million, nobody knows what it is. It used to be 11 million. Now, today I hear it’s 11, but I don’t think it’s 11. I actually heard you probably have 30 million.”
  • In 2007, Trump praised Hillary Clinton as one of the most “talented” people he knew and “very, very capable.” He predicted she would win in 2008.
  • In the same interview, Trump also expressed his appreciation for fmr President Bill Clinton. Both Clintons were guests at his wedding.
  • In 1999, Trump adamantly defended his support for abortion rights, saying “we have no choice” but to be pro-choice. Real bumper sticker there. In Trump’s defense, his spokesman, Mark Cohen had the wherewithal to state, “People change their positions all the time, the way they change their wives,” without breaking out in laughter. He now says, “I believe strongly in just about all conservative principles. I’m pro-life. I think that’s a big social issue.”
  • As late as 2007 (not 1999), regarding Clinton’s ACA-like healthcare proposal, Trump beemed, “I think it was very good. I think she came out with an idea. It’s a very, very complex set of things going on right now in terms of healthcare. But she came out with an idea, it sounds like a pretty good idea, and a lot of people like it and embraced it. And she learned a lot from her previous encounter.”
  • For all his words of hatred for Hillary Clinton now, he gave her and Bill a quarter million dollars in the last few years.
  • He’s a blowhard. His announcement speech, which in a field of over a dozen statesmen left much to be desired, and immediately made George Petak appear presidential, contained the now-infamous, unscripted rant that “Mexico sends [us]… drugs … their rapists.” At least he threw a bone, that “some I assume are good people.” This is not a man we want in the debates, let alone in the White House. While he may be capitalizing on residual anger among Americans regarding the negligence of the last several presidents on securing the border, there is no virtue in being the guy to stoke the fire when you do so in an inflammatory, inaccurate and disparaging way. He sounded more like an old uncle at the bar after three beers than a presidential candidate.
  • In several opportunities to clarify his position, Trump has refused to say he would support the eventual nominee. He doubled down on this with the first question of the first GOP debate. His basis is because, as usual, he feels “the Republican Party isn’t being very nice to me.” He whines, he bloviates and in between, he brags about how awesome he is. And he’s doing it while threatening a third party run.

All this would be plenty reason to not support Trump. But all we need – all the left needs – to beat this neanderthal is this question by Megyn Kelly at the first GOP debate on August 6, 2015:

“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”

Trump’s response: I don’t have time for political correctness and it was for fun.

Oh, ok. Get ready for another four years of the OPPOSITE of what you believe.

Trump followed this chauvinistic psychosis by threatening Megyn Kelly for “not being nice” to him, saying his own civility “could change.” Later that night, after the first debate, he called Kelly a “bimbo.” He’s used eminent domain to claim private property for his own gain, brags of paying for political favors that made him rich while saying it’s a “bad” system, and he insults, demeans and teases anyone who speaks out against him like he’s in high school. This man is a bad joke that isn’t funny and will destroy our party. Quite simply, he is the embodiment of the “war on women” mantra, and to use his word, a “pig.” His days are numbered in the GOP.

 

RickRICK PERRY

I cannot hide my admiration for fmr Texas Governor Rick Perry. Everyone who knows me, and my acquaintances on social media for the last five years would identify me not merely by my name, but as “the Rick Perry guy.” I do not claim he’s perfect, or attribute flawless idealism. In fact, it was a rocky start.

It started years ago, around 2005 – I despised Gov. Rick Perry.

In 2002, I was recovering from both the 9/11 tragedy that rocked – and changed – America, and my political “whew!” moment… a whimsical dip in the fanciful waters of third party politics. (I was Youth Coordinator for the Buchanan campaign, Reform Party) In my mind, George W Bush was the right wing of that proverbial “bird of prey,” left behind a new Lt. Governor to take his place, Rick Perry. Peas in a pod, I believed.

Immediately, in June of 2001, Texas passed, and Perry signed in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants. A year later, the new governor proposed the most bold transportation proposal in American history, the $175 billion Trans-Texas Corridor. I revolted, criticized him and did my best, pre-Facebook/Twitter to convince others that this alleged “RINO” was stealing land, granting amnesty and ruining America! To top it off, in 2007 this cocky former Dem had the audacity to mandate an unknown vaccine to give to girls! I wasn’t happy.

But, in 2004 I married an east Texan girl, and between her family and the insistence of my friend Tanner, who had just moved to south Texas, I was encouraged to explore further and really prove my reason for hating his policies. If I was going to debate this, I couldn’t be wrong. So I dug in, for about two years. I literally researched my way into liking Perry, and eventually supporting him as strongly as anyone else I have backed as a leader.

In September of 2011, I wrote a piece describing my reasons for backing Perry. The same reasons then are mine now, only with four more years of exponentially more success added to it. One supporter penned perhaps the best, most comprehensive list of debunked lies about Perry. Please bookmark that one.

While Perry entered the 2011 primary season with a bang, the comparisons to Reagan and wild expectations proved to be too much for the ailing governor (back surgery just a month before), and his fish-out-of-water campaign team. However, since then he has prepared for another run with a breadth and determination no other candidate has shown. His campaign team has run an unparalleled u-turn in public relations. And yet, his record speaks for itself, regardless of his preparation for the Big Show. The most significant reasons I became and remain an ardent supporter are:

  • Governor Perry listened to Texas residents, reversed course on the TTC, acknowledged it’s implications and went further than any politician I’ve seen. In 2005, Perry signed a law that forbade any existing “free road” from being converted to a toll road (one of the centerpieces of the TTC). A few years later, he championed a 2009 amendment that added language to the Texas constitution making it impossible for the government to use eminent domain for any purpose that eventually led to private ownership.  And as if that wasn’t enough, in 2011, he signed HB 1201, which removed all references of the TTC from state statutes and code.
  • On the Gardasil mandate, Perry openly expressed his mistake despite the intent of providing wider access to a drug promising to save lives, and he apologized. How often do you see a government leader go that far? He didn’t mince words, redirect or BS around it. This is a virtue nearly unseen at any level of politics, let alone a powerful governor. Gardasil has been proven to save lives, BUT should never be forced. In Perry’s case, it was merely put on the state list so it was accessible to young girls without the financial ability to acquire it privately. Nonetheless, he knew this was the wrong method to pursue a noble end. Regarding the Merck connection, the company merely gave $6,000 to Perry’s campaign that year – .0003% of his entire campaign haul. Hardly a “crony” head-turner. It was merely a well-intended mistake that he responded to honorably.
  • With the Texas DREAM act of 2001, which passed nearly unanimous through both houses, Perry was right: granting in-state tuition rates to responsible children of illegal immigrants was the best way to manage a problem caused by the negligence of the Federal government and enforced by the Supreme Court ruling that public education was a a 14th amendment right to all children. After reviewing the terms (two years in TX high schools, consistent grades, qualification for college, signed affidavit promising to pursue legalization), and the economic impact on both ends of the coin, I embraced this change as well.  “This was an economic decision that Texas was forced to make because of the federal government’s failure to secure the border. This decision allows these young people to become productive, contributing members of society.” In 2014, 25,000 students (some legal non-citizen, some undocumented) utilized the TX DREAM act. The estimated lifetime economic output value of this single year of students is $65 billion. Without a college education, these students would become part of a statistic of low-income earners, on the government dole. The economic difference between 25,000 students on government supplement vs. a 4 year degree is $2 billion a year.
  • Perry used to be a (very) conservative Democrat in the Texas legislature. But so badly did he fit in that within a few years he bolted, and in 1988 became a tried and true Republican. A younger age than Ronald Reagan did, for the same reason. He has never looked back since. Perry is one of the few political leaders who has grown MORE conservative over his years in service rather than more moderate.
  • Economically, Texas is far ahead of states like California, New York and other liberal bastions of progressive “success.” When Cost of Living is factored into economic data, Texas residents enjoy at least an $8,500 advantage over their blue-state counterparts. Imagine having the equivalent of 6 or 7 mortgage payments extra each year just because you change where you live. Rick Perry, combined with the legislature have led from the front with policies that encourage self-reliance, local support, decrease welfare rolls (74% since 2000) and encourage success.
  • Under Perry’s administration, Texas went from the middle of the education pack nationwide to being #2 in the nation. That is no small feat. Most impressive of all, despite massive immigration of poor, uneducated new residents, Texas has become the top and second-most academically-advanced state in the nation for black and hispanic students. That’s not just impressive, that’s miraculous.
  • There are 27 statewide elected officials in the state of Texas. Eight of them are executive positions. While some claim the Texas governor is “weak,” this is simply untrue and misleading. The only areas in which the Texas governor is restricted is in budgetary and appointive powers. While he cannot fire any of his appointees, over a 14 year tenure, the influence he had over every facet of the government is vast and ubiquitous. And while he cannot present a budget as 30 other states do, he has the power of line-item veto. He issued 148 line-item vetoes on the budgetary process. His 379 bill vetoes from 2001-2013 made him the most powerful final voice over a state budget in the country, since the legislature adjourns within a few days of a passed budget and could not overturn them.
  • In the end, Rick Perry has led the way and gotten the entire government behind efforts to reform: in-state tuition (2001), malpractice/tort reform (2003), constitutional protections for private property (2009), medicare reform
  • He knows how to win. Perry has never lost a general election. From his first race for the 64th district in Texas’ House of Reps in 1985 to his last election for governor in 2011, he won every single time. His last election, in 2010 garnered over 2.7 million votes and won by 13%.
  • He also holds the title of the country’s greatest state-based fundraiser, having raised $136 million over his career. No one else even comes close.
  • Governor Perry has been one of the most adamant defenders of unborn children in the country during his entire career. His vocal support for life has only grown stronger, evidence by his call for a special session in 2014 after initial attempts to reform abortion laws failed and pushed for new changes that would drastically reduce the number of children murdered by so-called doctors.
  • Perry stood with Texas all the way to the US Supreme Court in 2013 when voter ID was thrown out by a lower court. As a result, Texas’ determination led the SCOTUS to throw out major portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that unconstitutionally regulated Texas voting. Major SCOTUS precedence was set as a result of Texas’ lead.
  • While college education has become unrealistic for increasing numbers of people, Perry made it a major point in 2011 to challenge state universities to get creative and develop a $10,000 degree. Today, 12 Texas schools have $10,000 degrees available to their budding workforce. This concept has now begun spreading to other states.
  • Texas has led the way in conservative criminal justice reform. Few would doubt Texas justice in regard to crime, yet the state has reduced the number of incarcerated criminals, increased the scope of recovery and counseling programs, closed two prisons and begun the move toward decriminalizing minor, non-violent drug offenses. Experts nationwide are lauding the gains made in Texas.
  • Governor Perry opposed the implementation of Common Core, despite a strong sense of acceptance at the state Board of Education and in the legislature. Believing that federal funds came with unconstitutional strings attached, he rejected Race To The Top funds that go to districts implementing CCSS.
  • Perry is an honorable man, fears God, knows his Bible well, has led the state in prayer rallies for wisdom and provision, and served in the military because he felt called to.
  • He is one of the poorest of the candidates, with an estimated net worth of just over $1.1 million.
  • Perry stands against unconstitutional federal intrusion. In 2010, Perry issued a letter to DoE Secretary Arne Duncan and took a stand on federal proposals that would have influenced decisions made in Texas education. Similarly, he rejected the imposition of the so-called Affordable Care Act in 2013.
  • Last, but certainly not least, Gov Perry has promoted his own creative ideas, and honed those pushed by the legislature to develop an economy that has created more jobs than any state in the country, every year, for a decade. And there is no sign of slowing down.

So, can you see why I support him? (Update 8.11.15: No, Rick Perry is not shutting down his campaign, contrary to media rumors. Only one staff member resigned, the rest stayed on in all four states where the campaign has a ground game. They are merely recalibrating. Few remember, Ronald Reagan was broke at this point in 1979, and went on to win the nomination. The same happened with John McCain’s campaign in 2007.)

 

ScottSCOTT WALKER

Since being elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1992, Scott Walker has molded a regular guy persona, and consistent conservative resume. In the legislature he was known for his tough-on-crime stances and being strongly pro-life. He was the figurehead of the truth-in-sentencing reforms that swept Wisconsin in the late 90’s.

Milwaukee County suffered an embarrassing, scandal-laden year in 2002, and after a special election in April, Walker became Milwaukee County Supervisor. He subsequently won in 2004 and 2008 with increasing margins. His strict no-tax policy rubbed with the county board of supervisors, but it endeared him to conservatives statewide. In 2010, he ran for the governorship and won 52-46%. Everyone in America knows what transpired over the following term, eventual recall and continued winning in both the recall and second gubernatorial election. His margins of victory remained virtually unchanged, but with the legislature, Wisconsin passed a torrent of reform bills, from expanded school choice, concealed carry, castle doctrine, government union collective bargaining benefits, right-to-work, abortion restrictions and voter ID. Meanwhile, the Republican Party continued gains in Senate and Assembly elections.

Throughout his career in government, Walker presented himself as a steel-spined candidate, willing to do what was right, at the risk of losing his job. Yet, he continued to win with increasing margins. I respected this highly, and gladly voted for him as my supervisor, and eventually my governor. 2011 was a fantastic year for conservatives, as long-awaited reforms passed with rapidity and the Act 10 drama surrounding public unions backfired and resulted in a state grown tired with Democrat behavior. But something happened after our backyard brawls made national news: Walker suddenly became a conservative star, almost singularly on the back of the Act 10 fight. Of course, the other reforms helped bolster his credentials, but after his gubernatorial recall victory, the first in American history, he changed, in my view.

Suddenly, the steel spine was gone. In case after case, the sheen wore off of Walker. It felt like a betrayal of sorts, because we watched as a governor we so highly held in regard became human, and tempted by political ambition.

  • In 2012 and into the 2013 election season, Walker spoke highly of DPI superintendent Tony Ever’s performance and internally, donors were not lining up behind conservative Don Pridemore. Tony Ever is a died-in-blue Democrat and true progressive. Why would Walker vocally support him while giving no such support or even a nod to Pridemore?
  • In December of 2013, two abortion bills had been advancing in the Capitol that would have restricted the use of government insurance to pay for abortions and other questionable procedures. A Democrat legislator, Jon Erpenbach swore to “raise hell” if the bill hit the floor. WisconsinFree, an independent newspaper uncovered information from sources that Governor Walker’s staff were going to leadership and discouraging the bills. They died before hitting the floor. Certainly, Walker did not stop being pro-life. But his penchant for dramatic reform had grown cold, and an aversion to anything that may create division took hold.
  • On Right to Work legislation, the early Assemblyman Walker sponsored legislation to pass Right to Work legislation, but it went nowhere. But by the time he was in the governor’s chair, he opposed it. During the recall election, he repeatedly said he did not want to pursue RTW, and even threatened to veto legislation if it came to his desk. In a debate against Democrat Tom Barrett, Walker almost seemed irritated at the idea he supported RTW. “It won’t get to my desk.”  In 2012, he told reporters at a GOP convention that he did not want to pursue it, going so far as to say he’d “do everything in my power” to prevent it. Later, after the Senate Leader, Scott Fitzgerald found the votes, Walker reversed himself, daring to say, “I never said that I didn’t think it was a good idea.” This mincing and wordplay turned me off. It was dishonest, in the least. One could argue that he merely wanted the opportunity to win reelection in 2014, and was avoiding drama. But then, post-reelection, why did Walker repeat his opposition, telling legislators to lay off the reforms they wanted to pass? Well, it passed, was signed, and RTW became law, but it was because of the hard work of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Leader Fitzgerald, not Scott Walker.
  • Common Core is the thorn in the GOP’s side. Many Republicans have embraced this quasi-national education standard enticed by federal grants. Pay attention to the flip-flop-flips that are about to occur. In Walker’s first budget in 2011, Common Core was embraced as an established policy. In 2012, he again embraced the progress of implementation. In 2012 and 2013, conservative opposition began to mount, but Walker continued to “stay low-volume” on the standards, even as some legislators like Don Pridemore (R-Hartford) attempted to draw light. Dozens of groups and activists, myself included sent letters to legislators and the governor asking for public hearings on the standards. Eventually, four hearings were held across the state. In July of 2014, Governor Walker appeared to accept our argument against CCSS, asking the legislature to repeal it. Sure enough, after reelection, Walker seemed to set his sights on repeal. But that lasted exactly one month, and he altered his language to reflect the idea that Wisconsin could have it’s “own standards,” and “higher expectations,” rather than “repeal Common Core.” Walker literally walked back, saying he supported giving local districts a choice.  Considering many districts already had implemented them and it would cost money to reverse course, this was virtually giving up the fight. In his 2015 State of the State address, Walker dropped all discussion about repeal, and his official position was to “not require local districts” to accept it. But, as of April, 2015, Walker adamantly claimed he would repeal it! “I would absolutely repeal Common Core in Wisconsin!” Oh yeah, Governor Walker, WHICH IS IT? CCSS is still implemented in most Wisconsin schools, and proudly displayed on the state education site. Governor Walker talks the talk but balks the walk.
  • In 2011, local media initially claimed that Walker was the focus of an investigation into a real estate deal. Local prosecutors certainly appeared to be politically motivated, and their subsequent John Doe II investigation reveal it was anything but legitimate law enforcement. But nonetheless, Scott Walker insisted that he was not the focus of the investigation. In fact, Walker WAS a focus of the investigation, and he knew this to be the case. Why did he deny it? Probably for political reasons, and to protect his reputation. The investigation was closed in 2013, and no charges were filed. But, it shows a propensity to misdirect, and even make false statements earlier than his more obvious moments.
  • Governor Walker is mired in controversy, for better or worse related to his time as County Executive. The John Doe probes were unconstitutional, and a disgrace for anyone living in the United States. Nonetheless, questionable things were revealed, such as a secret router that handled email and web traffic off government servers and shielded from government transparency laws. Everyone denies that Walker knew of any of this, but it still looks bad. Especially in light of Hillary Clinton’s similar email scandal. Where’s the moral authority argument? The probes were wrong, but Walker appears to invite question of ethics, if not illegality.
  • The Governor delivered his 2015-16 budget with some notable changes. One of them was a revision of the mission statement for the University of Wisconsin system. Essentially, the “Wisconsin Idea” was to be removed and changed to reflect an interest in developing an educated workforce. Hell ensued. Rather than embracing the proposed changes or arguing for why such changes were a good thing, Walker denied it, claiming it was “a drafting error.” Yet, almost immediately, news sources discovered that internal email deliberations showed Walker’s staff deliberately gave instructions on the changes. Why deny it? Worse, why LIE about it? The incident was so embarrassing, even longtime supportive writers showed displeasure at the “antagonism” this showed.
  • In perhaps the most embarrassing and tragic events of the budget season, proposed Open Records changes were added to this budget without fanfare, but it immediately caught wind and sailed across the state from blue to shining red corners. Nearly everyone, whether Democrat, Republican, conservative, or liberal condemned the changes to transparency of government records. The changes would have eliminated access to nearly all “internal deliberations,” (such as the Wisconsin Idea changes?), and external emails, in the name of “protecting constituents’ privacy.” As though there’s an expectation of privacy when writing a state legislator. What is most disturbing now is the back and forth blame game about who is responsible for the changes, as Walker launches his presidential campaign (along with it’s incessant open records requests – ironic?). Initially, no leaders were revealing the source of the changes. After a few days, Senate Leader Fitzgerald’s office leaked that Governor Walker’s office actually requested the changes. That same day, Walker’s spokeswoman Laurel Patrick admitted it. But now, in a shocking turn, Governor Walker took to the radio and flatly denied it and accused legislators of this “huge mistake.” Un. Real.
  • After three years of diminishing respect, I finally encountered something that broke the camel’s back of silence: two years of back and forth negotiations of a Hard Rock entertainment district in my neck of the woods, Governor Walker capitulated to pressure and denied it’s construction. A billion dollar development that would have employed several thousand people and brought tens of millions a year to the area economy. Rather than owning the illogical decision, Governor Walker began to repeat a sudden “It’s Doyle’s fault” mantra that was essentially a lie. It destroyed a facade of honor I thought he had, and it shocked me to see my governor so brazenly lie, misdirect and obfuscate on the issue. I would have been disappointed with any rejection. But his reasons were the opposite of reality, and revealed he may have done it for one reason: two weeks before, 600 Iowa conservative POTUS kingmakers wrote a joint letter demanding he reject the project because of an evil casino. You can read more about the controversy here, and here.
  • Finally, Walker’s latest budget: it was, in the words of fellow Republican Rob Brooks, (R-Saukville), a “crap budget, but we’re going to make it better.” This is a devastating, stinging rebuke from anyone, let alone a fellow conservative. The budget was filled with so many objectionable items, ill-conceived structural changes and nuanced mechanisms, that the GOP caucus ended up almost rewriting the entire budget. It was pretty hard to keep face and avoid the predictable calls form the left, accusing Walker of being an absentee governor in pursuit of political ambition. This was a total abdication of responsibility. A show of bad character, and our state suffered as a result.

While Walker is an adept politician, and has a great sense of what policy is good to implement, he has been revealed more and more as someone willing to do whatever it takes, even bending the law, working the opposition, playing both sides. I have observed the fall of someone I felt was very honest, and became a robotic liar on several things. It has made me both angry and personally offended. I will give credit where it is due and I will vote for the eventual nominee if it is him, but I cannot support Walker in the 2016 primaries. But, I would gladly take my governor back. Sorry, America.

 

Marco RubioMARCO RUBIO

Elected in the landslide Tea Party revolution of 2010, Rubio has become one of the most outspoken defenders of the conservatism, a part of powerful committees, chaired many discussions about multiple topics and shown maturity and political agility gained from his time as Speaker of the Florida House. As the son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio’s story is anything but average. His family went from washing dishes to keep food on the table to having a son become one of the most ambitious and articulate defenders of conservative ideals.

In short, I have great respect for Rubio. He stood with Ted Cruz when he gave his quasi-filibuster speech on the senate floor for 23 hours, and he has been on the right side of nearly every issue. From resisting the fairytale of human-caused global warming and the Keystone XL pipeline, to supporting first amendment cases and constitutional understanding of things like gay marriage and Obamacare.

His one policy fail was the attempt to be part of a group working on immigration reform, the “Gang of Eight.” Perhaps out of a lack of cynicism or too much trust in the intentions of fellow GOP Senators, Rubio seemed to be led to slaughter, used as a tool to gain Tea Party support for something that wasn’t tolerable among the base. Rubio was the scapegoat and suffered the most. He has now repented for his vote, and has seemingly recovered from this blunder.

Overall, he is similar to my philosophy on most issues.

  • While I am not a fan of overly aggressive foreign policy, Rubio, like Perry reflects the “big stick” theory, and letting the world see it. He does not believe in capitulation on North Korea, Iran, ISIS or the Ukraine debacle. He is a bit of a hawk though, and has suggested military use without as much careful detail as I would like in settling every-present Mid-East troubles.
  • He is very pro-trade and believes in expediting the negotiating process for presidents, rather than having 100 Senators meddle and muddy the creation of trade pacts.
  • On immigration reform, Rubio still believes in a reasonable path to legalization, but not granting pardoned citizenship, which is the definition of amnesty. He has a similar position to Jeb Bush, supporting a system that reduces the cost of illegal immigration on state welfare systems, but brings people out of the shadows to pursue legalization in the light of day. His proposals, though not as detailed as Jeb Bush, are attractive to many conservative hispanic and latino voters.
  • Rubio opposes net neutrality. His position is basically the libertarian one, saying the internet is the perfect confluence of free market forces and should remain free to govern itself to the most efficiency possible. He has even found a way to lead on the issue by teaming with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) on creating alternative legislation that would address the concerns driving net neutrality while maintaining the freedom of the internet.
  • He supports reforming Medicare into an optional system that allows people to go find private health insurance to drive down costs and increase service. He also supports a hybrid of Social Security that gives power to individuals to create more wealth for themselves, and get a greater return than the government entitlement has been providing.
  • Ultimately, Rubio would likely be a strong philosophical leader, but has not shown any ability to lead an executive team. He has the right position on many issues, and clearly crosses a chasm of trust that exists between the GOP and latino voters, but he lacks proof of his ability to govern in the biggest job in the world. With better options available, I cannot support him for the top spot.

But I would love to see him as anyone’s VP.

 

RandRAND PAUL

Rand Paul… There’s not much to write. Or Dislike. He’s correct on most issues, naive on some others, but ultimately has shown no ability to get others to follow him. Other than his procedural victory to shut down NSA’s Rule 215 powers, led also by Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee, he has made little impact on the Senate. He has rarely led legislative movements. He has very little to show other than being a force for good ideas and constitutional principles in the chamber. But this is not executive experience.

While he’s shown more tolerance and team play than his father, Ron Paul ever did, he still has not shown the ability to lead a large organization, command the respect of an administration, or flexed executive muscles. And running an ophthalmology office is not tantamount to being President of the United States.

There are many good Senators in this race. Rubio, Paul and Cruz represent the constitutional and ethical center of the Senate. I do not think that is enough to qualify them for the top job, though when there are several candidates that would undoubtedly have a greater effect in implementation and organizational management. To me, nominating a freshman Senator to be President is akin to asking an auditor to become CEO. He may know the numbers, the rules and be an honest person, but that does not make him effective. Everyone has their place, and Paul’s is to be the Senate’s conscience.

  • Rand supports school choice. He wisely understands that this issue is important to many disadvantaged families that live in poorer communities. He also understands that it is the state’s job to make it happen. He also opposes federal enticement of Common Core.
  • His opposition to the unlawful aspects of the Patriot Act are noble. I too, opposed the Patriot Act from it’s inception. He doesn’t oppose the entire act, but primarily the provisions in Section 215 and others that grant powers that are not explicit, nor implied in the constitution. He filed a lawsuit to stop it.
  • He is pro-life, and articulately defends the sanctity and personhood of unborn children. He proposed a personhood amendment to the constitution in 2012, but it failed.
  • He is middle of the road on immigration and legalization reform. He has proposed legalization with strict requirements, tied to changes in the visa program to discourage illegal entry.
  • The recent revelation of corruption within an affiliated PAC has reflected badly on Rand’s campaign. PACs cannot coordinate with the candidates, but it’s well known that PACs are a tight community of trusted compatriots. America’s Liberty PAC is run by longtime Paul family confidante, Jesse Benton. Benton is married to Rand Paul’s niece, and managed Rand’s father Ron’s campaign in 2012, regarding pay-for-play endorsement in the Iowa caucuses.
  • I cannot support Rand Paul because to this point he has not moved the needle in more than one area, led his caucus in any direction or led an organization. He is a good thinker, and articulator of constitutional ideas, but he is not a natural born leader.

 

Carly

CARLY FIORINA

I was a young investor of HP during my college years. Their CEO, Carly Fiorina was stolen away from her successful stint at Lucent Technologies in 1998. She’s brilliant. She has five degrees ranging from from medieval history and philosophy and an MBA from U of MD. She also has a degree from MIT and attended UCLA School of Law before making it to the top of the corporate ladder. Fortune Magazine called her the most “powerful woman in business.”

Through the Y2K scare and dot com burst, I held onto HP, despite their struggle to stay alive as their neighbors in Palo Alto. Between her work at AT&T and Lucent, the secretary-to-CEO rise was merely a storyline, but her organizational skills, determination and foresight made her a force to be reckoned with in the business world. In 2001, she managed a merger with computer maker, Compaq and attempted to diversify the business while trimming it’s bloated and expensive bureaucracy. She was named the “most powerful woman in business six years in a row. Her tenacity, and perhaps a bit of humanity got in the way, putting her on the outs with members of the board of directors. In 2005, at the tail end of a downturn in technology stocks, the board of directors mounted a coup to force her resignation from the board and as CEO. Only six months earlier, she was being praised as a successful, hard-nosed leader making the hard choices. When they fired her, I sold my stock. What transpired was nothing less than, in my opinion, personality-driven politics and character assassination. Almost overnight, industry insiders began calling her the worst CEO ever, cited her layoff of 30,000 employees as a ghastly move, and ignored the fact that the incompetent board merely replaced her with a gentleman that actually oversaw a FURTHER dip in stock price and years of languishing business, with no vision.

I feel that Fiorina got a bad rap, and is far more capable than most give her credit for. Nonetheless, I feel her reputation is tainted in a way her brilliant speeches and attack dog mentality cannot overcome. She is serving a very valuable place in the primary, keeping the focus on Hillary Clinton’s lack of leadership, record of failure and malfeasance. But despite how I feel she was wrongly treated after HP, she will carry a weight heavier than Mitt Romney did in 2012.

  • Fiorina is adamantly pro-life, and as a woman proclaims the virtue in a woman being whatever she can be, regardless of her circumstances. Her form of feminism leaves liberals scrambling to things like, “yeah, but she laid off 30,000 people!”
  • As a cancer survivor, she knows struggle and has flirted with death and it has arguably made her more compassionate but bare-knuckled on issues that are important.
  • While CEO, she saw the company rise from the 28th largest to the 11th largest company in the world. While her bet on Compaq appeared to be a failure, it was her foresight that HP needed diversification that led her decisions which, in time reaped great rewards. She’s shown a willingness to do what is proven to work, rather than what is popular.
  • She appears to be consistent on constitutional issues, and understands the limits of government power. As a business woman in California she has become very familiar with issues states deal with, and has developed creative answers for multiple issues states deal with better than the federal government.
  • In 1989, Fiorina wrote her MIT thesis about the need for more federal policy in local education, even describing “states’ rights” as a less-desired track to increased excellence. She emphasized that thesis during her 2010 U.S. Senate campaign in California. Since then, she has tacked decidedly to the right, embracing school choice, local control and opposing Common Core. It is notable that in 1989, the federal Dept of Education had only been around less than a decade and results were markedly thin to compare year over year. Still, the thesis showed her proclivity to private and localized policy, and indicate her nature was conservative-minded. She has not clarified her positions in the 26-year-old thesis so far, but it is reasonable to believe she is genuinely more conservative on these matters. Since her 1989 paper, school choice has become legal. 26 more years of DoEd failure has been displayed. She has nearly three decades of dealing with government bureaucracy and seeing its failures. I have tried but not seen a reason to doubt her legitimate concern with top-down policy on constitutional matters.
  • She opposes the Affordable Care Act, including during her Senate run, and has proposed reforms that are market-based and state-driven. However, she still supports federal funding of state-managed high risk pools, something that GOP leaders have attempted and failed to get traction on because of its expense.
  • She understands foreign policy more than people think, as a global executive at Lucent and the CEO of HP, a company with more money made overseas than at home. She personally knows leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel and Israel’s Netanyahu.
  • In one of her not-so-small, off-camera foibles, she admitted in 2008 that if she weren’t backing McCain, she would be supporting Hillary Clinton. Fiorina is now the biggest voice in the land against Clinton.
  • Her negatives, fair or not may keep her from the top of the ticket, but not necessarily off of someone else’s. I believe she would be on the short list of several candidates running for President. Hopefully, her conservative bonafides remain consistent.

 

Chris Christie, Barbara BuonoCHRIS CHRISTIE

Gov Christie came to the governor’s office at a most-needed time. New Jersey had just suffered through years of John Corzine’s inept leadership and unethical (and illegal) behavior, and was floundering in the wind of the Tea Party revolution that began in 2009. And Chris Christie’s sail rode those winds into the governor’s seat (he never moved into the governor’s mansion).

He is intelligent (one jurisdoctorate in law from Seton Hall and two additional honorary doctorates from Rutgers and Monmouth), and certainly has the impulse to lead. On dealing with Iran, Russia and other current foreign policy issues, he’s a strong defense candidate. But I feel he has changed positions too often on some things, and is simply too moderate for what we need in the White House. The questionable issues that dog him from before the George Washington Bridge scandal will not go away, and a general election would merely open those wounds for us all to work through. His politics make him perfect for New Jersey, a state almost solidly blue, but not right for America.

  • In 1995, Christie ran for the NJ General Assembly as pro-choice and for an assault weapons ban. Regarding his initial stance on abortion, he brazenly said,”I would call myself … a kind of a non-thinking pro-choice person, kind of the default position.” He lost. In fact, his entire first entry into politics was a disaster, and created many enemies.
  • During this period, Christie had been sued for defamation for false claims his political opponents were under investigation.  It was settled out of court.  Christie was sued for defamation again by an architecht he had dismissed from a government project. That lawsuit was dropped, but a pattern began emerging of a no-holds-barred, aggressive style. Doing what it takes to move ahead, regardless of who you step on.
  • After failing in politics, Christie returned to private practice. His return to politics was a favor paid by George W. Bush, for whom Christie served as state campaign lawyer in 2000, and a top fundraiser. In 2001, Bush appointed him a year later as USDA of New Jersey, which some thought odd because Christie had never practiced in a federal courtroom before. He served in this office, with 127 attorneys for six years, until 2008.
  • As USDA, he went after sex traffickers, business corruption and worked several cases involving terrorism and other group violence acts.
  • In his role, he was considered an effective and admired head prosecutor and gained notoriety in GOP circles for beginning the ball of suspicion rolling against the embroiled (then-congressman) Sen. Bob Menendez.
  • During his tenure as governor, the state of New Jersey’s credit rating has been downgraded nine times, making it the second-lowest rating of any US state, beat only by Illinois.
  • In order to deal with budget shortfalls, Christie made waves for his cuts to public pensions. Several unions in the state that had supported him before withdrew their support and it threatened his reelection, but he won.
  • Regarding gun control, Christie had been known as a moderate on the issue, but showed signs of constitutionalist thinking once governor, having commuted and order the release of Brian Aitken, saying he believed states should make their own firearm laws and not the federal government.
  • Christie believes global warming is human-caused, but withdrew New Jersey from cap-and-trade agreements.

I cannot support Christie for several reasons, the least of which is his connection to the George Washington Bridge scandal. He has shown great leadership and has a moral center, but unfortunately has shown that he’s willing to brazenly use political favors and heavy-armed tactics to achieve his goals. I do not feel this is the kind of leadership we need right now, and his moderation, while a possible necessity in the state of New Jersey, just doesn’t prepare him for an increasingly conservative country.

 

kasichJOHN KASICH

Kasich is a former nine-term congressman from Ohio known for his brash, reform-minded fiscal conservatism mixed with some “independent” views on things ranging from assault weapon bans to climate change and even supporting the Affordable Care Act.

His political history is an interesting one, having been elected to the Ohio Senate in 1979 as a 27 year old idealist, becoming a US Representative four years later and eventually winning nine consecutive terms. His position as chairman of the House Budget Committee gave him national attention in the 90’s, helping Republicans to hammer out a budget-balancing agreement in 1997 with then-President Bill Clinton.

Raised a Catholic, Kasich eventually drifted away from faith, but embraced Anglican beliefs as an adult when he parents were killed in a car crash. Divorced once, he’s been married to his second wife since 1997. They have two daughters, twins.

  • In 1994, during the debate over the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, Kasich was one of 38 Republicans that crossed the aisle to support the bill. Kasich, who had been longtime friends with Clinton’s chief of staff, Leon Panetta acquiesced after several meetings with Panetta and supported the bill at the last minute, imposing a 10 year ban on the manufacture and purchase of firearms deemed “assault weapons. As a result, the NRA gave Kasich an “F” rating on protection of the second amendment.
  • While in Congress, Kasich was known for fiscal conservatism, frequently calling for cuts to federal programs ranging from national defense, housing, education and taxation credits.
  • During the 1993 debate over what was known as “Hillarycare,” John Kasich used his ranking position on the House Budget Committee to deliver a plan incredibly similar to the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” with its central tenet being the individual mandate once supported by conservatives. He even cozied up to Hillary Clinton regarding their competing plans to regulate the national health industry. As Time magazine wrote, “The Kasich plan would have covered all Americans by 2005, using a form of an individual mandatethat would have required employees to purchase insurance through their employers. (The mandate was an idea initially supported by conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation.)” This was before constitutional scholars reminded them of the folly in such a mandate. Now, conservative groups are united in their educated resistance to this, but Kasich has not changed. As governor, he accepted the Medicare and Medicaid expansion under the ACA, and has even championed the law in his state and others. The Washington Times remarked how Kasich was taking “faith on the road,” and explained his “medicine show” in other states like North Dakota, and Georgia, which turned down his appeals and rejected federal funding and mandates. In Montana, he was more successful in prodding fellow Republicans to cave. Montana Senator Scott Sales demurred, ““He spoke the perfect Democrat talking points, including trying to shame people into voting for it, using, in my opinion, scripture that’s taken out of context.” Kasich said, “Faith is important to me. If you go through the Old and New testaments, there’s one thing that’s very clear. You’ve got to help people that are downtrodden and poor, and I just think that that’s part of our culture. You’ve got to help people that can’t help themselves.” In an October 2014 interview, Kasich said that repeal of the ACA was “not gonna happen” and stated that “The opposition to it was really either political or ideological. I don’t think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people’s lives.” He later tried to walk back his statements, claiming he would like to “replace” Obamacare with a Republican plan. But the problem with conservatives is not the version, but the arrogance of federal officials attempting to implement federal law to create something not empowered by the constitution.
  • Kasich has made a name for himself as a reformer, willing to take on big things, and getting things done. Even the New York Times published a story crediting him with either adept governing in a purple state or good luck, but either way, his record, similar to Wisconsin Governor Walker’s has shown some fiscal austerity and responsibility. However, at the same time, some have seen him as a Newt Gingrich-style Republican, preferring a slimmer, more efficient version of large government, not a smaller one.
  • Kasich is very supportive of charter schools and school choice. He also has pushed to implement “merit pay” for teachers and administrators and change the way they’re evaluated. Overall, state funding for charter schools in Ohio has increased 27% under his tenure. He is reform-minded on education, which is a major movement in the Republican Party.
  • The governor favors allowing local school districts to “teach alternatives to evolution, such as intelligent design if local officials want to.”
  • In 2012, Kasich openly embraced the reality of what we all know – the climate changes. Except, it was in the context of the EPA, regulation of greenhouse gasses and said it was a problem. He will not say if it’s natural or human-caused, only that he “doesn’t know.” Conservatives understand this movement to be one that gives the government permission to regulate things it was never intended to regulate. Climate change has been happening for millennia, and the government is using it as an excuse to regulate people and their behavior. To his credit, Kasich does resist Cap-and-Trade, for now, but he has supported a special tax on fracking exploration in his state.
  • Personal character is important. And while Kasich has had a career in getting things done, he’s also known as a bit of a jerk. While come candidates like Jindal, Bush and Perry are known for their jovial, consistent demeanor, Kasich is known as smug, was accused of a “hair trigger temper” by none other than John McCain, labeled with having an “anger management problem,” and has been known as very condescending to people who disagree with him, even ignoring their talking during discussions (video). Of all things, the video shows the discussion was to call him out on a strange reversal on an important pro-life issue.

While Governor John Kasich bears all the marks of a solid candidate for 2016, more astute conservatives will pick up on his moderate tendencies, Lyndon B Johnson style of governing and willingness to compromise on important issues. Yes, he could almost guarantee an Ohio win, but he could lose the war for greater restraint and constitutional governance. His push for Obamacare, past support for the Assault Weapons Ban and intransigence on Common Core put him at odds with most of the conservative base. His issues, big and small are many, not just one or two. I cannot support John Kasich for the Republican nomination for these reasons.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

 

I have yet to express my thoughts on Graham, Pataki, Santorum, Gilmore, Jindal, or Huckabee. But soon I will update this post to include them. For now, I’m settled on the best choice for the job – the honorable, the proven, the respectable and tested former governor of America’s most successful state, Rick Perry.

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