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Mitch Perry Report for 5.3.16 – Only six more months of hearing about Hillary vs.The Donald – every day

Well today’s the Indiana primary, and aren’t you all excited about that?

I didn’t think so. A CNN/ORC poll released  yesterday shows that more than eight of ten Americans believe Hillary Clinton will challenge Donald Trump for president in November. That was taken before Indiana votes today, or Nebraska next week, or California and New Jersey next month.

But it’s still more fun to talk about a contested convention than start talking everyday about a Hillary vs. Donald confrontation, since that’s still a full half-year away!

So enough of this: Will this be it for Ted Cruz tonight, okay? It’s been over for quite awhile for the Texas Senate. But you wouldn’t believe that if you tune into cable news anytime – and why would you, since it’s all about keeping up interest (The Sanders/Clinton race tonight could be close, we should add).

Seriously, I’m sure everyone reading this watches their fair share of CNN, Fox and/or MSNBC. I’m telling you I’m trying to walk away from the flat-screen though, because there’s nothing really that new to learn.

I felt a little wistful watching John Heilemann try to keep the excitement up on his Bloomberg show, “With All Due Respect.” Heilemann was a great writer/reporter for New  York magazine for years. Now he makes $1 million acting like every other pundit on cable. Good for him. Bad for us.

However this race, thanks to  Donald J., has been great for everyone’s ratings (and clicks).

Since the start of the year CNN’s prime-time audience has more than doubled to 435,000 viewers a night in its target demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds, according to Nielsen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the fourth quarter last year, CNN’s average price for a 30-second prime-time spot was about $7,000, up from about $5,000 a year earlier. Fox News and MSNBC also have raised prices.

Thank God he survived, and Cruz didn’t, those network honchos are believing. Also a lot of political reporters.

But if it ain’t new, is it really news?

And before we go to the other news of yesterday, a quick shoutout to my sister Michele out in Richmond, Ca.  Happy Birthday!

In other news…

David Jolly, a former lobbyist, said on Sunday that he doesn’t believe that ex-members of Congress should go back into the lobbying game, prompting a response from one of his GOP senate opponents, Todd Wilcox.

Although the business establishment supports the Tampa Bay Express toll lanes project, they’ve kept that support relatively close to the vest in recent months. Not anymore, as they announced the creation of a coalition with a website backing the $3.3 billion proposal. Meanwhile, TBX opponents howled upon learning the news.

Tampa attorney Bob Buesing becomes the first (and only, presumably) Democrat to enter the Senate District 18 seat in Hillsborough County – where he’ll likely face Dana Young in the fall.

Defying his leadership, Sarasota area Congressman Vern Buchanan says he doesn’t care – and is calling for the Congress to fully fund President Obama’s $1.9 billion request to combat the Zika virus.

And while Hillsborough County Commissioners come up with new ideas on where to come up with funding transportation that won’t include a sales tax, County Administrator Mike Merrill just shakes his head.

Opposing GOP leadership, Vern Buchanan calls for full funding to eradicate Zika virus

Unlike some of his GOP colleagues, Sarasota-area Congressman Vern Buchanan is calling on the House of Representatives to support an additional $1.9 billion in funding requested by the Obama administration in February to contain and eradicate the virus.

“Zika’s shadow is spreading too quickly in Florida, which has one quarter of all the Zika cases in the United States,” Buchanan said. “The rest of the country should keep in mind that summer is coming and so are the mosquitoes. Congress needs to act quickly.”

Buchanan says he is basing his decision on recent developments, including the first fatality on U.S. soil and new research revealing that Zika eats away at the fetal brain and destroys the ability to think. Researchers also say they have learned that up to 29 percent (not 1 percent as originally believed) of pregnant women infected with Zika showed fetal abnormalities. New evidence also shows that the disease can be sexually transmitted in addition to being carried by mosquitos.

“There’s a reason why the public has lost confidence in Washington – and this is the latest example,” Buchanan said. “Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat.”

The White House has already moved to redirect $589 million in existing funds to Zika, most of it from Ebola response programs. Funds were also taken from other emergency preparedness programs, which has state and local jurisdictions warning that they may be unable to address other non-Zika threats. But their request for $1.9 billion has gone nowhere in both the House and the Senate.

Two weeks ago there appeared to be a deal iamong Senate appropriators in which a smaller sum, about $1 billion, would be provided in emergency Zika funding as an amendment to one of the 2017 spending bills. But the Washington Post reports that plan collapsed, partly due to an unrelated issue regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

Among the reasons that Republicans are balking is that they the request for the $1.9 billion is “supplemental” funding – that is, an emergency request that goes outside of the regular process for appropriation bills, and are generally not subject to budget caps. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last week the administration could use some of the leftover money at existing accounts to combat Ebola to address immediate needs with Zika, saying, “there is enough money there, especially to deal with this year.”

That argument isn’t resonating with Buchanan.

“There’s a reason why the public has lost confidence in Washington – and this is the latest example,” he says. “Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat.”

Vern Buchanan’s small biz tax cut bill gets some love from Grover Norquist

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who once infamously said he’s like cut government down to the size “where we can drown it in the bathtub,” is publicly endorsing a small business tax cut proposal offered by Sarasota area Republican Representative Vern Buchanan.

The bill, dubbed the Main Street Fairness Act, would establish that businesses that file taxes as passthrough income, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and S corporations, will never pay a higher rate than a corporation.  Under current law, corporations pay a maximum tax rate of 35 percent, while small business owners pay up to 39.6 percent under the individual income tax code on top of additional taxes on earnings and investments. Buchanan says these small businesses pay more than 50 percent of their income in taxes in some states; in Florida, they face an effective tax rate of 42.6 percent according to the Tax Foundation.

“This important change helps ensure that businesses are on a level playing field for decades to come,” says Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “A key goal of tax reform should be taxing businesses equally, not discriminating based on arbitrary laws, and Congressman Buchanan’s legislation ensures this becomes reality. Members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting and co-sponsoring this pro-taxpayer, pro-small business legislation.”

Other business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers, Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Retail Federation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, are all backing Buchanan’s bill.

The goal of tax reform should be to boost the economy and create more American jobs,” said Buchanan in a statement. “Even President Obama has called for reducing our corporate tax rate, but merely reducing the tax burden on corporations does nothing for more than 90% of American businesses.”




Vern Buchanan says the truth needs to come out regarding 9/11 and the Saudi government

Sarasota area Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan says that the U.S. should “never buckle to the threats of a foreign government,” and that’s why he supports legislation that aims to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for any involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“Even an ally like Saudi Arabia needs to understand our country will never compromise when it comes to keeping Americans safe and punishing those behind terrorist attacks,” Buchanan says. “If they were involved the truth needs to come out and they need to be held accountable. The time for justice is long overdue.”

Buchanan is a co-sponsor of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (H.R. 3815), which would allow victims of terrorism, including the families of the 9/11 attacks, to pursue foreign states and sponsors of terrorism in federal court.

Saudi officials have reacted with alarm to the proposed legislation, and has warned the Obama administration that if the bill passes, they could retaliate by selling up to to $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets in the U.S., according to the New York Times.

Attention about possible Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks comes with President Obama‘s arrival in the Kingdom on Wednesday, where he received what CNN described as a “chilly reception” from Saudi leaders in Riyadh.

And it also arrives with mega attention being directed at the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 report that reportedly references possible Saudi involvement with the attacks, an issue that former Florida Senator Bob Graham has rallied about for years, and where he got a primetime platform to discuss on CBS’ 60 Minutes earlier this month.

Speaking with CBS’ Charlie Rose on Monday night, Obama said he opposes the bill, which is being sponsored in the Senate by New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. “If we open up the possibility that individuals in the United States can routinely start suing other governments, then we are also opening up the United States to being sued” by individuals in other countries, he said.

Buchanan said he is disappointed at the president’s veto threat. “It’s disgraceful that victims’ families cannot get into court to prove what senior intelligence officials believe to be true,” Buchanan said. “Our government should never put Saudi Arabia’s interests ahead of the American people.”

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio says he supports the release of the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 report, but says it’s not such a “cut and dry thing the way it’s been represented.”

“I personally am not at the end of the day, against it being released, other than I don’t think it paints a complete picture,” Rubio told Jimmy Cefalo on WIOD-AM 610 in Miami.

The former GOP presidential candidate downplays the Saudi threats to sell U.S. treasury securities if the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act passes.

“I’m not a big fan of being threatened by foreign governments that they’re going to do this or that against us, I don’t think that’s a real threat,” Rubio said. “I’m not sure how easily they can do that.I’m not sure they can afford to do what they’re talking about doing, to be honest with you.”

Mitch Perry Report for 4.19.16 – Bernie Sanders goes after Hillary Clinton for violating campaign finance laws

Welcome to April 19, the 23rd anniversary of the Waco siege and the 21st anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

And now today’s NY state primary, which, by the shape of things, could be pretty anti-climactic. Donald Trump‘s victory is a given, and right now most polls have Bernie Sanders down by double-digits to Hillary Clinton.

The Sanders campaign made news yesterday by going public with a complaint that has been big on the Internets over the past couple of weeks in BernieWorld — that being the charge that Clinton has violated campaign finance laws with the use of a joint fundraising committee set up with the Democratic National Committee.

An attorney for Sanders contacted the DNC and said that this joint committee appeared to be improperly subsidizing her campaign by paying Clinton staffers with funds from the committee and cited other alleged violations as well.

The deal is this: wealthy donors can give $356,100 annually to the Hillary Victory Fund, the largest joint fundraising committee of its kind, according to The Washington Post. The contributions are then distributed proportionally among the campaign, the DNC, and state parties.

But the Post reported that before distributing out its proceeds, “the victory fund has spent millions on direct mail and online ads seeking small donors to support Clinton’s campaign. The victory fund also sponsors Clinton’s online store, allowing donors who have already given the maximum to her campaign to purchase Hillary lapel pins, caps or car magnets, with their money benefiting the party.”

The questionable outlays “have grown to staggering magnitudes” and “can no longer be ignored,” writes Brad Deutsch, Sanders’ attorney.

The expenditures on advertising and fundraising are at best “an impermissible in-kind contribution from the DNC and the participating state party committees” to Clinton’s presidential campaign, the letter says. “At worst, using funds received from large-dollar donors who have already contributed the $2,700 maximum to HFA [Hillary for America] may represent an excessive contribution to HFA from these individuals.”

Robbie Mook, Hillary’s campaign manager, was furious in his response.

“This accusation is false,” he said in a statement. “They’re questioning our joint fundraising agreement with the DNC, which allows us to support Democrats running up and down the ticket — the same fundraising structure used by President Obama in 2008 and 2012.”

Mook goes on to say that “this latest incident is part of a troubling pattern of behavior — occurring just as Bernie’s mathematical odds of winning the nomination dwindle toward zero — in which Sanders and his team are not just debating us on issues (which we all agree is perfectly fair), but rather attacking Hillary Clinton’s character, integrity, and motivations.”

At the risk of sounding trite, these two camps are really, really growing bitter. Some say this doesn’t reach the vitriol between the Clinton and Obama camps in ’08, but actually to me, it’s worse. I don’t remember up to 25 percent of Clinton supporters saying they wouldn’t vote for Obama (though I do remember many of those “Pumas” saying they would back John McCain).

And a programming note: I’ll be interviewing Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson on WMNF 88.5 FM radio at noon. Please listen!

In other news …

Congrats to Tampa Bay Times reporters Leonora LaPeter AntonCara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Garter and Michael La Forgia for their Pulitzer Prizes that were awarded Monday.

Activists opposing the Go Hillsborough half-cent sales tax are already gearing up to lobby against the proposal when Hillsborough County Commissioners vote on whether to put it on the ballot next week.

Want to celebrate tonight’s expected Donald Trump blowout in the Empire State with like-minded supporters? Go to Channelside, my friend.

Bill Nelson has some friendly advice for his Senate colleague Marco Rubio regarding his rant last week about an amendment failing to get passed in the Senate.

And Kathy Castor issued praise for President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that came before the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday.


Kathy Castor praises Obama immigration actions as case goes to Supreme Court

Arguments were held in the Supreme Court Monday in United States v. Texas, the intensely fought legal battle regarding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that he made in November of 2014.

Obama’s proposal would create a new program to allow the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to obtain temporary work authorization to remain in the country. The administration also intends to expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, that provides similar relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. years ago as children.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was one of twenty five Attorneys General who joined the Texas lawsuit, which asserts that the Obama administration overstepped its constitutional authority by granting work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants and promising them a reprieve from deportation. The states argue that “unilateral suspension of the Nation’s immigration laws is unlawful” and that only the judiciary’s “immediate intervention can protect the [states] from dramatic and irreparable injuries.”

Tampa Democratic Representative Kathy Castor says Obama was compelled to make his executive action because of GOP intransigence.

“In the face of Republican obstruction, it was necessary for President Obama to act by executive order, just as he did in 2012 when he granted temporary relief to DREAM Act students who were born outside America but know no other country and have no other home,” Castor said in a statement. “It is within the President’s authority to take appropriate steps to focus law enforcement efforts on deporting felons, not families. In Florida, an estimated 150,000 of our neighbors are eligible for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and 14,000 are eligible for expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – these productive individuals could come out of the shadows, work, go to school and participate in our economy.”

With only eight members on the high court, a 4-4 tie would essentially be a loss for the president and a win for his opponents. That’s because a tie would leave in place the appeals court ruling that blocks the plan from being implemented.

Throughout Florida, a coalition of immigration activists held actions noting the event, including members of SEIU Florida, LULAC and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, who met on Monday afternoon in Centennial Park in Ybor City.

Castor’s district includes much of Hillsborough County, which currently has a Latino population of at least 26.5 percent (according to U.S. Census Bureau information from mid-2014).

Former Cuban hostage Alan Gross to speak at USF next week

Alan Gross, the American aid worker who was imprisoned in Cuba for five years before his release in December of 2014, will speak at USF next Tuesday night, April 19.

Gross traveled to Cuba in December of 2011 to  spread the values and benefits of democracy by helping to make internet service more accessible; he had visited synagogues and Jewish leaders across the country, including introducing them to search engines and Spanish-language Wikipedia. For those actions, he was convicted buy Cuban authorities of undertaking “a subversive project” to “destroy the Revolution” in Cuba, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. U.S. officials protested strongly, characterizing Gross as a humanitarian.

Thanks to the work of a number of humanitarian groups and his wife, Gross was released in December of 2014 as part of an announcement by President Obama that the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after five decades.

A USF press release says that Gross will “candidly share the story of his incarceration, the people he met, the ordeals he experienced, and the adventures and lessons he has learned in his career.”

Since his release, Gross has become an outspoken advocate for ending the economic embargo against the Communist island.

Gross will speak in the Marshall Student Center at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.)

The lecture is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis following priority seating for USF students. There will be an open reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Top of the Palms restaurant on the third floor of the Marshall Student Center and a meet and greet following the lecture. For more information about the lecture series, including the audience policy,


Leon Panetta is backing Eric Lynn in CD 13 race

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is endorsing Eric Lynn in the race for the open Pinellas County Congressional seat being vacated this year by David Jolly.

“I am proud to endorse Eric Lynn for Congress,” Panetta said in a statement. “I know Eric well, and as a valued advisor to me during my time as Secretary of Defense, he proved that he has the resolve, experience, and good judgment that it takes to be a strong and effective leader in Congress. During these challenging times both at home and abroad, Eric has the knowledge and courage to fight to protect the national and economic security of all Americans and their families.”

The endorsement is a nice feather in Lynn’s hat, as he battles a tremendous lack of name recognition in the Democratic primary race for Congressional District 13 against Charlie Crist. A Public Policy Polling survey released last month shows Crist with a huge lead over Lynn, 71%-11%.

Lynn, 37, left his work with the Pentagon a year ago to announce his candidacy for congress. He served six years at the Department of Defense in the Obama administration, where he advised three Secretaries of Defense, including Panetta (the others were Chuck Hagel and Bob Gates).

On the endorsement, Lynn said, “I had the privilege of serving Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon where we worked to fight radicalism, promote peace, and keep our country safe. As the CIA Director during the 2011 assault on Osama Bin Laden, White House Chief of staff and a Democratic member of Congress, Leon Panetta knows what it takes to be a great leader in Washington and I am honored to have his support.”

The 77-year-old Panetta has had an extremely distinguished career in public service. He represented the Monterey area of California in Congress from 1977-1993 before serving as Director of the Office of Management and Budget and as President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff. He later became Clinton’s Chief of Staff.

President Obama selected him to lead the CIA from 2009-2011 before becoming Secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2013.

The winner of the Crist-Lynn primary in August 30 will then go to general election in November. Retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general Mark Bircher is the only Republican in the race at the moment, while former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker is said to still be deciding about a possible entry.


Mitch Perry Report for 4.11.16 – Time for Obama to release those 28 pages in 9/11 report

Happy Monday, y’all.

I hope you had a good weekend. I’m feeling good this morning after my Golden State Warriors took care of the San Antonio Spurs last night with dispatch, and are only a victory away this Wednesday from capturing the greatest regular season record in NBA history.  The Masters also had some drama.

But ltet’s talk about two other television programs of interest that aired yesterday: President Obama on Fox News Sunday and Bob Graham on 60 Minutes.

It was Obama’s first appearance on Fox’s Sunday morning public affairs program, and while his comments about Hillary Clinton’s email issues are generating headlines, check out when he was asked by Chris Wallace if he’s too diffident when it comes to reacting to terrorist attacks, a common theme that was echoed after his appearance with Raul Castro in the immediate aftermath of the Brussels attacks.

OBAMA: There isn’t a president who’s taken more terrorists off the field than me, over the last seven-and-a-half years.

I’m the guy who calls the families, or meets with them, or hugs them, or tries to comfort a mom, or a dad, or a husband, or a kid, after a terrorist attack.  So, let’s be very clear about how much I prioritize this.  This is my number one job —

WALLACE:  Then why is it —

OBAMA:  — and we have been doing it effectively.  You’re —

WALLACE:  So why do people sometimes think you’re diffident —

OBAMA:  Well, I think part of it is that, in the wake of terrorist attacks, it has been my view consistently that the job of the terrorists, in their minds, is to induce panic, induce fear, get societies to change who they are.

And what I’ve tried to communicate is, “You can’t change us.  You can kill some of us, but we will hunt you down, and we will get you.  And in the meantime, just as we did in Boston, after the marathon bombing, we’re going to go to a ballgame.  And do all the other things that make our life worthwhile.  And you have nothing to offer.”

That’s the message of resilience that we don’t panic, that we don’t fear.  We will hunt you down and we will get you.

Meanwhile on 60 Minutes, those infamous 28 pages of the 9/11 report which could show the possible existence of a Saudi support network for the hijackers involved in the 9/11 terror attacks, was the topic, as Obama plans a trip to Saudi Arabia this month.

Former Florida Senator Bob Graham, who helped write the report, told the TV newsmagazine that the classified information outlines a network of people he believes supported the hijackers while they were in the U.S.

He said the hijackers were “substantially” supported by Saudi government, as well as charities and wealthy people in that country.

“I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of who didn’t speak English, most of whom never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education — could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States,” Graham said.

The issue has been one that’s received some news coverage over the years, but went totally primetime last night. Seriously, what’s the uphold in declassifying those pages? Americans deserves to know.

In other news…

The Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation gathered last Friday to break bread with a whole bunch of business folks last Friday. That’s where St. Petersburg state Senator Jeff Brandes announced that prison reform is next on his ambitious policy agenda.

Could Bob Buckhorn leave the job he loves with half his term left? Perhaps it’s unlikely, but the Tampa Mayor admits he’d have to listen if Hillary Clinton asks him to join her in a new administration – if she were to be elected this fall.

Mark Bircher ran for Congress in the CD 13 special election in 2014. He’s  back this time around, and is in fact the only official Republican in the race as Rick Baker continues to contemplate his future.

And Patrick Murphy is seriously concerned about the Zika virus and what it could in Florida.

Mark Bircher says he wouldn’t be running if he didn’t think he could win CD 13

Florida’s Congressional 13 seat based in Pinellas County has received a lot of attention in recent years.

The special election to replace the late C.W. Bill Young in 2014 was one of the most expensive congressional elections in U.S. history. And after the Florida Supreme Court ordered the state Legislature to redraw the district last year which resulted in a more Democratic-friendly district, incumbent David Jolly announced he was ditching it to run for the U.S. Senate, while former Governor Charlie Crist declared the time was now right to begin his political comeback and entered the race.

While Crist’s race against fellow Democrat Eric Lynn has made news in 2016, the only talk on the GOP side is whether or not former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker will get into the contest.

There’s been nary a word about the only declared Republican in the race, Mark Bircher, the retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general, commercial pilot and attorney who finished third in the GOP primary in 2014.

Despite the fact the district is considered to be leaning strongly Democratic after the redistricting, the 62-year-old Bircher thinks he has a chance of winning the primary and general election later this year.

I am not looking at that as a burden,” he says about the reconfigured district. “Because when I talk to the people, they say the same thing – they want good schools, good job opportunities, safe neighborhoods. They want the same thing. If people will listen to my platform, I think for me, it doesn’t matter about the redistricting, or I wouldn’t be trying. Obviously, I think there’s a path for me.”

Bircher speaks often about fidelity to the Constitution when discussing every issue broached his way. And that includes foreign policy, where he speaks from experience about how the lack of preparation for war can result in bad consequences.

Regarding the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Bircher said there wasn’t nearly enough debate in the Congress.

“If we want to remove Saddam Hussein, can we predict the vacuum of power there? And if we do, what are the consequences? And are the American people ready to say my son and daughter and my money are worth that? I don’t know that answer?”

Bircher says Congress has abdicated their role in declaring war for far too long now.

“They’ve been abrogating their oath,” he says, adding that the Constitution isn’t “discretionary” on the issue.  “It is an impermissible expansion of the legislative powers to the executive to pass a resolution that essentially makes a president a king, in deciding on going to war,” he says, which is why Vietnam was called “Lyndon Johnson’s war” and Iraq was “George W. Bush’s war.”

“The framers of our Constitution said no, the people are the ones that pay in blood and treasure, the people will decide, and that’s an impermisable of separation of power,” he adds. “The executive is supposed to be one-third (of our governing structure) not two-thirds, and further, it makes a politician escape the accountability of their vote.”

When asked about Donald Trump‘s recent comments that the U.S. should reevaluate what it gets out of NATO, Bircher was more circumspect, but did allow that “when I was standing in Iraq in the summer of 2003, when the countries were coming in when the fighting was over, it looked to me like a food fight for state dept. money than it did like an alliance to anything and I think that was a very poor policy in that instance.”

Bircher avers that he is not a strict Constitutionalist, but instead he refers to himself as a textualist, the legal theory that courts in the United States should rely on the plain meaning of the words in the Constitution and in other laws.

The issue comes up when I ask him what should happen in the U.S. Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared that Merrick Garland, President Obama‘s choice to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, deserves an up and down vote.

Bircher comes down in favor of Garland getting that vote. “The president should do his job and nominate, and the congress and the senate should do their job, that’s how I see it,” he says.

Bircher says the federal government has no role to play in creating a framework for health care policy, and vehemently opposes the Affordable Care Act. He points to the Constitution when it comes to immigration policy, however, but is nuanced on how he would deal with the estimated 11 million undocumented people in this country, though he insists absolutely that there should be no amnesty allowed.

“I think we would need to address that as an operation of law, and it would need to be done on a case by case basis, because there is a distinction, I think, between a person who has been in this country or born in this country say decades ago, as opposed to the person who came here last week,” he says.

Unlike the 2014 special election that was compressed into a few short months, Bircher says he’s enjoying the opportunity to have more time to spread his brand of conservatism to the voters in CD 13.

And he insists he doesn’t mind if Baker opts to get into the contest.

“I think nothing but good things happen when more people are looking at it, as I think we have a better chance of getting an exact fit.”


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