Three-way race for Mack’s old congressional seat
A former conservative talk show host, a General Motors exec and a software programmer are seeking to fill the Congressional seat left vacant by Connie Mack’s Senate run.
Trey Radel, who beat a loaded field in the GOP primary in August; Democrat Jim Roach, who hasn’t been afraid to listen to voters of all persuasions; and Brandon M. Smith, who is running without party affiliation, face off in the Nov. 6 election for the District 19 seat.
* Trey Radel
Residence: Fort Myers
It was his familiarity as a former reporter and talk show host that helped drive him to victory in the multi-candidate GOP primary that included two former state representatives.
Radel said the gridlock that has choked Washington is the main problem in bringing back American greatness.
“I’ve always had a desire to serve our country. The dysfunctional Washington is chipping away at our integrity, and I felt compelled to do something about it,” Radel said.
Radel said he wants to use his business sense in the private sector to bring back the economy and reduce the deficit.
“I believe the economy and the debt are tied together. To pay the debt, we need to get the economy going,” Radel said. “Do you want government to spend us out of problems or do we return to what makes the country great, the people?”
Radel also wants to simplify the tax code, repeal Obamacare and return decision making to the states to help business move forward.
“Democrats and Republicans have shown they’re irresponsible with money. It’s imperative to return the money and the power and decision making to the states,” Radel said. “We can make better decisions here than from a thousand miles away.”
Ultimately, Radel said it is values that make him the better candidate.
“Conservative values aren’t Republican values, but our values. I believe what has made America great is our individual liberty,” Radel said. “My opponent wants Obama and government involved in the decision making. I can cut across ethnic and cultural lines and can bring the ability to represent to Washington.”
* Jim Roach
Residence: Cape Coral
Jim Roach got to know the GOP candidates very well, having attended the numerous forums held during primary season. He has worked on campaigns in Lee and Charlotte counties. Now, he thinks a successful campaign of his own is what can cure the ills in Washington.
“I’ve worked at GM with the EPA on legislation and policies. I’ve been involved for a while,” Roach said. “I thought I could do a better job at stopping gridlock and all the divisiveness.”
Roach said he wants a platform that the people want and that Washington should be returned to the voters.
“The platforms are so complicated it doesn’t translate to voters. We need a common-sense platform,” Roach said. “We need to lower the deficit, improve health care and bring Washington back to the voters through campaign finance reform.”
Roach, a Vietnam veteran who worked in the technology field, believes his background would be a change for a branch of government filled with lawyers and business people and that by listening to everyone, things can really get done.
“I’ve gone out of my way to meet with Tea Partiers and Libertarians and attend forums by these groups,” Roach said. “All of us want the same thing, but the language is different. I’ve shown I can reach across the aisle while my opponent is stuck to conservative groups.”
Roach believes his opponent won’t be able to compromise on producing a budget.
“One of the key things we need is a budget, and if we can’t get people to talk intelligently, we’re in trouble. I don’t see that from Radel,” Roach said.
* Brandon M. Smith
Occupation: software programmer
Brandon M. Smith graduated from college three years ago and was able to get a job. Many of his friends weren’t so lucky. That got him upset and that got him interested to make a run for Congress.
“A lot of recent graduates don’t have the availability to good jobs. I wanted to be the only candidate to point out what young people are facing,” Smith said. “I want to represent people who don’t have a voice.”
Smith, who describes himself as a “left-libertarian,” said his emphasis is on young people, which means education.
“The biggest thing is to fix the education system and putting programs in place for jobs for young people,” Smith said. “I want more spending on science and technology.
Smith said he also wants to cut spending on national defense and end the war in Afghanistan, spend more on renewable energy like solar and wind, and have a progressive tax on the rich while also cutting federal spending.
Smith, who admittedly doesn’t have the political experience of his opponents, sees himself as an alternative because being unaffiliated means he isn’t beholden to any political party.
“One thing I can promise is I won’t let myself be influenced by money or party leaders,” Smith said. “There’s too much money in politics and there needs to be campaign reform and we need to kick out the super-PACs.”