The Concerned Citizens of Ohio hosted a candidate forum and straw poll Saturday, Feb. 22, at The Gathering Place in Eaton.
The forum featured Eric Gurr and J.D. Winteregg, both of whom are conservative Republicans. The two hope to make their way toward running against the current Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Boehner, who has been the 8th District United States Representative for 24 years, is currently running for his 13th term.
The two Republicans, Winteregg and Gurr, took to the podium to discuss issues facing Congress today. Topics included immigration, domestic policy and the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare).
One audience member noted, “We are not the wacko’s here, the Republican establishment has left their platform.”
She then asked the two candidates how they would in turn, hold their word if they were to make it to Congress.
Winteregg replied, “You have to understand the culture in [Washington], this establishment of people have been in there for so long, that they’ve been sucked in by this progressive culture. So what we need to do, is we need to inspire the country by electing someone who understands the progresses.”
Winteregg also said that Congress needs people who are “new, who are fresh, and who are with it.” In response to the same question, Gurr said, “Accountability is our accountability. We vote them out. I think one of the biggest tragedies we’ve got in this country is so few people vote in these primaries in the 2016 Presidential election, a lot more people vote and it’s too late then… The [primary] election happens on May 6, and whoever runs on the Republican’s side is going to win. I mean, you could run a cat against the Democratic district and you’re gonna win, right? So the accountability is here with us, we work for them, that’s what we fight for.”
Winteregg’s campaign team is “targeting specifically millennials and minorities, because those are typically overlooked with Republicans,” Winteregg said.
“Here is the danger in this election and [Winteregg] does know his progressive tactics, he’s trying to divide us here, it can’t just be the Tea Party… We have to go after all Republicans. I meet with people at the Chamber of Commerce, guess what I learned? They’re not in favor of [the current] immigration [laws] that’s coming from the top down… We have to get everybody in this. We are not going to win if we stay in our own little cocoon. Let’s get out there, let’s appeal to everybody and with the same message. I’m not going to target my message to millennials, I’m not going to target my message to anybody. My message is consistent, conservative. I want them to come to us. We’re right, they know it, we’ve just gotta bring them the message,” said Gurr.
Discussing the newly revised Food Stamp and Farm Bill (also known as the Farm Bill), Winteregg said, “This really isn’t anything about farming, it’s about food stamps and conservation, and pushing the progressive agenda. You know, we’re from Preble County and I went to National Trail and a lot of my kids are ag kids and I love them to death. I know [farmers are] the backbone of America, they feed us, they’re hard workers and we have to ensure that we’re protecting them. We also have to understand the culture there, we’re luring people in in this establishment culture on the cusp by promising them an expansion of the welfare state. You know? John Boehner doesn’t get it, if you’re expanding the welfare state, you’re spending our money. That’s not okay. You think about the conservation aspect of it, this is code for ‘environmental control, environmental regulation’. We need to understand the progressives are using this as a way to circumvent the legislative process in order to push their agenda… I am opposed to the Farm Bill as it stands.”
Gurr said, “Even within the Farm Bill itself, there are a few problems, one of them is the Foreign Agriculture Service. We spend $2 billion to send our bureaucrats all around the world to see what their farms are like. It’s just a massive waste of money. The other really cool thing was there was an audit done on the bureaucrats and the Farm Bureau, and the Department of Agriculture on how they were spending their credit cards. They bought tattoos, they bought lingerie, someone paid his car payment. So the Farm Bill, even if we split off the food stamps, the agriculture side of it, there is room for work… For small family farmers, the biggest abuse within the Farm Bill outside of food stamps is corporate welfare.”
In a discussion of illegal or undocumented immigration into the United States, Gurr said, “I have said consistently that I am opposed to amnesty, and I think we need to send some of these folks back home… We need to secure the borders, but that’s not enough, we cannot have amnesty. And really, in today’s economic environment, we are bringing in more people legally than illegally anymore. This has to stop on both sides. We bring 100,000 people into this country every month legally. Last month, you know how many jobs were created? $130,000. Now I might not be Albert Einstein with the math, but I can do that math. That doesn’t work. We have to have $340,000 jobs just to get us back to where we were. I’m against Amnesty, I’m against illegal immigration, I am for deportation, I am also against the underhanded amnesty called the “Dream Act” and I would reform legal amnesty, legal immigration.”
“Look, this story’s important to President Obama. We have to understand why he’s pushing this, is to avoid the economy… we’re interested in talking about jobs. So we have to understand where Barack Obama is directing us and leading us around. And we’re following him like a bunch of sheep. That’s what our representatives, including Speaker Boehner are doing. That being said, immigration is absolutely important to address, I’m adamantly opposed to amnesty… With this, we need to secure the borders, we need to enforce the existing laws we have. Let’s think about that; have we ever done that? Let’s enforce the existing laws we have and see what happens.. We need to be careful in this messaging, because if we talk about deportation, we’re racist at that point, and we’re getting nowhere,” said Winteregg.
As the debating continued, attendees were able to pose various questions for the candidates to better grasp their stances on said issues.
In Gurr’s closing statement, he said, “In a sentence, it’s your district, your voice, and your vote. That’s the best I can do in one sentence. If we’re going to take back this country, we gotta take back this part. I’ve said it tonight several times; this is not going to be easy, if both of us stay in here, it’s going to be a little tougher. We’re both going to get battered and bloodied, we gotta stand up and fight for this thing… if we fight and work together, we can do this and send a message to the whole country.”
In Winteregg’s closing statement, he said, “Going door-to-door and talking to people in the eighth district, I’ve really got a firm handle on what people are discussing, and what I hear over, and over, and over again is that what we lack in D.C. is principle; it’s important to address the principle because this is why we don’t see backbone there any longer. We don’t see people willing to stand and fight for our voices. We need a representative in there that’s predictable. We need a representative in there who’s accessible and approachable and accountable. These are the things we need in a representative and this what I’m presenting to you. I’m approachable, I’m predictable, you can predict how I’m going to vote based on my Christian principles and my approach through the Constitution, and I’ve implemented my accountability measure here, you know where I stand, you know how I’m gonna vote, and I take a lot of that guess work out of there. I have a pitch. It’s: ‘Cast a new light on D.C.’ The thing that’s beautiful about this, is it’s a nod to God, and you think about John 3:19… It’s time we cast a new light on D.C., and we can do that through me.”
To check out Winteregg’s stances on various issues, his campaign website is www.jdwinteregg.com. To see Gurr’s standpoint on issues, his campaign website is www.gurrforcongress.com.
The election for Ohio’s 8th Congressional District Republican primary will be held on Tuesday, May 6.