Last month we asked the four candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, Eighth District of Virginia, to write a sub-750 word essay describing why the county’s residents should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 6).
Here is the unedited response from Jason Howell (I):
We can do better.
Our politics is broken, because our politicians don’t represent citizens. That is the problem. I am running for Congress as an Independent to represent people rather than parties, ideas rather than ideology. I have lived in this area for 25 years and have spent the last 20 years, beginning in college, working in mostly accounting and finance. I’m running to do something that neither party seems to want to do: take responsibility for the big problems we face as a country (the economy, the debt, immigration, traffic in our area and certainly taxes). It is after all, we the people. We are those people.
Over the course of this campaign, my wife and I and a small group of about 40 volunteers have been working for you. My full-time career began as a bank teller where I learned as an 18 year old how important social security and interest rates checks were to our senior citizens. My parents were immigrants so to save on student loans I worked my way through Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University earning an accounting degree. In accounting I learned that you can’t fake math and budgets need to balance. Before starting my own firm, my last regular job was as a recruiter at an accounting and finance staffing firm. I was a commission only recruiter for 3 years and my best days were when I got someone a job. This is what we need now. Someone who gets why fiscal policy is important to seniors, knows how important balancing the budget is and has literally found people jobs.
Like his legislative colleagues who share in the all-time low approval rating, Jim Moran has T.R.I.E.D. – Traffic, Regulation, Immigration, Economy and Debt – working on critical issues but unfortunately failed. Passionate partisanship has painted many politicians into a political corner and Mr. Moran, a member of the minority in the U.S. House, is no exception. We can do better.
Traffic, regulation, immigration, the economy and debt are issues I will tackle during my first term.
We are number one in traffic. Despite the millions of dollars earmarked and spent, we still hold the dubious distinction of being number one. I will champion telecommuting policy so that Senior Executive Service level employees know that it is a priority. For more about my ideas on telecommuting policy, click here.
To slow relationship bank consolidations and the influence of the now “too bigger to fail,” I will work with other legislators to create criteria for smaller banks that allow exemptions from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Small, relationship banks did not create the crisis and have been unequally burdened. For more details regarding my stance financial regulation click here.
Jim Moran voted for the last major piece of federal immigration legislation called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Reconciliation Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). IIRIRA removed judge’s discretion to adjudicate crimes worthy of deportation. This is what led to the record 396,906 “removals” of 2011. I support the DREAM Act, the Startup Act 2.0 and changing policy to incent the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to succeed. For more of my ideas regarding immigration click here.
In Congress, I will be a good steward of our responsibility to manage fiscal policy. To stimulate our economy I will leverage my finance background to help lead in three areas: taxes, housing and trade. For details about my plan to work on economy click here.
With nearly $16 trillion in short term debt and $60 trillion in long term debt obligations, we cannot just cut our way to balancing our budget and repaying our debt. I support taking some actions in the short term to buffer our economy – like continued tax relief in 2013 – that we may not take in the long term to reduce our debt. For long term debt reduction, I will work with the Government Accountability Office’s 2012 report to detail an organized plan for reducing the 81 areas of government program overlap. For the GAO’s 2012 report details click here.
This is your opportunity to vote for someone in Congress rather than just against Jim Moran. You can carve your initials into the wall of history by replacing an incumbent with an Independent. You’ll be glad that you did. Vote for Jason J. Howell (VoteJasonHowell.com). We can do better, we must do better and if you vote for me on November 6, we will do better.
(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) In a bout of bizarro bipartisanship, a former top advisor to President George W. Bush has offered praise for Rep. Jim Moran (D), and a former Democratic congressman is headlining a fundraiser for Moran’s Republican challenger, Patrick Murray.
Today the group No Labels, a “grassroots movement of Democrats, Republicans and independents dedicated to the politics of problem solving,” announced that Moran has earned its “official Problem-Solvers Seal of Approval.” No Labels co-founder and former Bush advisor Mark McKinnon said Moran “emphasize[s] working together and solving problems, not scoring political points.”
“Throughout his career in Congress, Moran has shown a continued willingness to work across the aisle and find common ground with members of the opposite party on important issues,” McKinnon said in a press release (below, after the jump). “His attitude is what Congress needs more of.”
Meanwhile, Artur Davis, a former Democratic congressman and a national co-chair of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, is headlining a private fundraiser for Murray in Alexandria on Oct. 15. Davis, who lost his bid to become Alabama’s first black governor in the state’s 2010 Democratic primary, recently switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and spoke at this summer’s Republican convention.
Murray’s campaign said it’s “proud to have the support of Congressman Davis” and “common sense voters of all partisan backgrounds.” It also commented on the No Labels award and this week’s endorsement of Moran by the Washington Post.
In a one-paragraph endorsement that called Moran “conscientious and constituent-oriented,” the Post also noted that the 11-term congressman “has embarrassed himself, and his constituents, with ill-considered comments in the past.”
“If voters want a common sense Congressman who will find solutions and won’t embarrass his constituents, their choice is Colonel Patrick Murray,” said Murray campaign spokesman Reece Collins.
Independent Jason Howell has previously described himself as the true non-partisan candidate in the congressional race, which also features Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy.
“The ability to go in there and create relationships without parties’ strings is what I bring to the table,” Howell told ARLnow.com in June.
The ‘No Labels’ press release:
This week No Labels gave its official Problem-Solvers Seal of Approval to Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia’s 8th district. The Problem-Solvers Seal is awarded to candidates or legislators who agree to join No Labels’ emerging “Problem-Solvers Bloc,” a group of lawmakers who are dedicated to working across the aisle to find effective, principled and pragmatic solutions to our country’s problems. Moran has committed to join the bloc.
“With Congress mired in gridlock, we need more leaders like Moran who emphasize working together and solving problems, not scoring political points,” said No Labels Co-Founder Mark McKinnon. “Throughout his career in Congress, Moran has shown a continued willingness to work across the aisle and find common ground with members of the opposite party on important issues. His attitude is what Congress needs more of.”
The Problem-Solvers Bloc represents No Labels’ effort to create a new center of gravity in Congress, where those legislators willing to work across the aisle can exert real influence. In today’s Washington, Republicans and Democrats rarely meet with one another to discuss issues. With No Labels’ new bloc, members will have a banner to gather under to develop real solutions. No Labels began constructing this bloc in mid-2012 and has already had tremendous success recruiting current and prospective members of Congress to join.
“Moran’s leadership on important legislation, like establishing a pilot program focused on childhood health, demonstrates his commitment to problem solving,” said No Labels Co-Founder William Galston. “He has been awarded the Problem-Solvers Seal from No Labels for his efforts in finding real and long-term solutions facing the country, and he will be a key asset to the Problem-Solvers Bloc.”
Howell says he’ll be hosting interested 8th Congressional District residents at Bailey’s Pub and Grille in Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive) starting at 5:00 p.m. The evening will start with a meet and greet. Then, at 6:00 p.m., Howell will give a “short presentation,” followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
Appetizers will be free for early arrivals, according to a press release.
Howell — who has raised just $9,572 as of June 30, compared to $813,463 for Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Moran and $97,999 for Republican Patrick Murray — has been trying some unique strategies to help get the word out about his candidacy.
Howell has pledged to wear a name tag at all times between now and the Nov. 6 election. Earlier this year he ran a 5K race in Crystal City and issued a press release with the subject line “‘Running’ for Congress… Literally!” And last week Howell participated in Iota Club and Cafe’s open mic night; he performed “Congress-Man,” his take on Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
Howell’s campaign website says he’ll have a booth at the Arlington County Fair later this week.
Murray, the other challenger to the 11-term Rep. Moran, will be attending a private fundraiser with Rep. Frank Wolf (R) tonight.
A congressional candidate who recently joined the race is trying to get some recognition in an unconventional way. Jason Howell will be wearing a name tag from now until the election on November 6.
Howell, who actually got the ball rolling on his campaign last year, was informed on Monday, June 18, that he had officially made the ballot. He’s up against incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D), Patrick Murray (R) and Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy in the 8th District congressional race. He’ll be running as an independent.
Howell believes part of the problem with campaigning, particularly as an independent, is the lack of name recognition. To remedy that problem, he’ll wear a name tag every time he’s in public until the election. Howell hopes he’ll get enough exposure so people will recognize his name by the time they get to the polls. He said there’s only one exception to the name tag rule: “When I’m wearing a campaign t-shirt in the gym.”
A major sticking point for Howell is the partisan nature of politics today.
“People don’t vote for the people they know, they vote for the ‘D’ or the ‘R.’ They vote for the branding,” said Howell. “Unfortunately the politicians have figured that out. They don’t have to be the best candidate, they just have to have the ‘R’ or the ‘D.'”
Howell believes being an independent in Congress would give him the ability to make changes that current members struggle with.
“The ability to go in there and create relationships without parties’ strings is what I bring to the table,” said Howell. “The biggest problem we have is our politics. It’s not that we don’t have enough money to take care of problems or we don’t have enough ideas, but the partisanship has locked them out of solutions.”
Howell views America’s current economic situation as something that needs fixing right away. Howell, who started out with a career in accounting and is now a writer and speaker, says the financial crisis prompted him to run for Congress. He doesn’t think current lawmakers are handling the situation well, and believes it’s time for Congress to sport fresh faces from a younger generation.
“Someone from my generation needed to get involved,” he said. “I decided to step up and be a part of the solution.”