Free Press candidate endorsements are based on our judgment of each candidate’s competence and ability to succeed in the position for which he or she is running, as well as our assessment about his or her commitment to the conservative principles of limited government, low taxes, fiscal restraint and individual responsibility.
U.S. Senate: Bob Corker
When Bob Corker began his career in the Senate, he was anything but fiscally responsible. He supported debt ceiling hikes, a minimum wage increase and the bank bailout scheme.
Then Corker changed. Over the past three years, he has been one of the most fiscally responsible members of the United States Senate.
Sen. Corker has been a leader on the issue of earmark reform, refusing to accept earmarks and supporting legislation that would effectively end the earmarking process.
He voted against the stimulus and the auto bailout.
Corker won “Taxpayer Friend” awards from the National Taxpayers Union in both 2010 and 2011. In its most recent annual congressional ratings, Citizens Against Government Waste named Corker a “hero” for, among other things, voting against state bailouts and more increases to the debt ceiling, and for voting to extend tax cuts.
In 2011, Corker voted against every single appropriations bill, citing concerns about the debt and increased spending at a time when the country could not afford it.
This year, Tennessee’s junior senator became the national leader of the “CAP Act” legislation that would set an across-the-board, binding cap limiting all federal spending. This commonsense approach to injecting fiscal restraint into the federal budget is one of the most promising ideas to help address America’s out-of-control spending and mounting federal debt.
Corker is one of the senate’s leading lights for fiscal solvency, and he is a champion for reducing the national debt and reining in untenable entitlement programs.
The Free Press endorses returning Bob Corker to the U.S. Senate.
3rd Congressional District: Chuck Fleischmann
Chuck Fleischmann had been largely flying under the radar during his first term as a U.S. congressman until he introduced an impressive seven-point plan for reducing the size and scope of government and getting Americans back to work.
The document, which champions ideas such as tort reform, expanding free trade and reducing regulatory burdens, is a reasonable and compelling legislative agenda that should serve as a guide for all lawmakers in Washington hoping to stimulate job growth and invigorate the economy.
In addition to his jobs plan, Fleischmann has compiled a very strong limited government voting record. The congressman voted against Obamacare, and votes to repeal it at every opportunity. He voted to defund NPR, trim congressional office budgets by 5 percent and expand responsible offshore energy exploration.
He has also sponsored some very good bills, including H.R. 3318, which would eliminate the capital gains tax for two years. That bright idea would stimulate economic growth by allowing more money to be invested back into the economy, rather than by being captured — and largely wasted — by the federal government.
Fleischmann is not perfect. The Congressman’s unwillingness to vote against his party, especially when the Republican Party is not representing the conservative principles its members claim to defend, is exasperating.
While he rightly calls for trimming the federal budget and cutting wasteful spending, he is unwilling to even consider the idea of reducing military spending, even though the defense budget is rife with waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars. His fiscal conservatism also waivers when it comes to funding projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which sits squarely in the 3rd District.
On the whole, Fleischmann stands up for free market, limited government legislation more often than not. He has pledged not to vote for any tax increases. His voting record displays a consistent commitment to addressing the most pressing issues of the day in a reasonable, fiscally responsible way.
The Free Press encourages returning Chuck Fleischmann to Washington to represent Tennessee’s 3rd District.
4th Congressional District: Eric Stewart
As a state senator, Eric Stewart has been unremarkable. Now, more than six years into his service in the Tennessee General Assembly, Stewart may be best-known for sponsoring a ridiculous bill that would have doubled the cost of renewing a driver’s license — essentially a tax that would disproportionately impact low-income Tennesseans the most.
Stewart has voted for increasing taxes — and against reducing them. He bends over backward in support of unions and is critical of proven methods to provide choice and competition in education. He has sponsored a number of preposterous bills, including one to regulate — and increase the cost of — honey products, and another that would create a welfare program for recycling companies.
His belief in an expansive, expensive government that interferes in the lives of individuals and intervenes in the operation of businesses is clear and undeniable, despite his claims of fiscal responsibility.
Still, Stewart is a more acceptable as a candidate, and a human being, to represent the people of the 4th District than incumbent Scott DesJarlais.
In the days since the transcript of a September 2000 phone call between DesJarlais, then a full-time physician, and a patient with whom he was intimately involved was released, the congressman has done little to prove that he is worthy of mercy — or votes.
According to the transcript, DesJarlais pressured his mistress to get an abortion by threatening to tell his wife about the affair and revealing the mistresses’ name.
DesJarlais did not deny the content of the transcript, but claims that the patient he allegedly impregnated was, in fact, not pregnant. The fact remains, however, that DesJarlais was clear that his preference, if his mistress was pregnant, was for her to have an abortion.
The fact also remains that this patient was one of at least four women with whom DesJarlais had an affair during his first marriage.
DesJarlais’ decision to strong-arm one of his mistresses into allegedly aborting their lovechild, and his choice to behave as a lustful philanderer, would not be an election issue if not for the fact that his chief platform issues are related to pro-life and family values policies.
By luring socially conservative 4th District voters into electing him based on a set of principles he doesn’t practice in his own life, DesJarlais is not only a hypocrite, but a fraud. It seems he advocates the anti-abortion, family values ideals he claims to champion because he knew such a stance was necessary to appeal to voters in such a conservative district.
There is little doubt that on the House floor DesJarlais would vote consistently more conservatively than Stewart. He has been a steadfast voice for conservative principles. But is it justifiable to elect someone whose supposed “beliefs” now appear to be little more than a convenient facade?
Even if Stewart votes in a way that doesn’t necessarily reflect the will of most people in his district, electing him is still preferable to voting for a hypocrite who has shamed himself, his family, his supporters, his party and the people of his district. For that reason, the Free Press endorses Eric Stewart to represent Tennessee’s 4th District in the United States Congress.
In two years, if Stewart has not proven a good representative of the people of the 4th District, the number of quality Republican state legislators and local leaders who reside in the 4th Congressional District will offer a rich pool of potential replacements.
For now, however, it is more important to elect the better person than the better legislator.