The U.S. Senate race for Virginia is set after Corey Stewart beat out Nick Freitas for the Republican nomination. Jose Montoya reports.
Virginia Del. Nick Freitas is racing to the finish line ahead of the commonwealth’s June 12th U.S. Senate primary and says his message of individual liberty, smaller government, and thriving markets is resonating with voters.
Freitas got a major political boost in March when his passionate defense of the second amendment on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates went viral.
“When 40 million people see something, that helps with your name ID,” said Freitas.
While recent polling is scarce in the GOP primary, the viral video is helping Freitas raise his profile against primary rivals Corey Stewart and E.W. Jackson, both of whom have run statewide before. Freitas has dwarfed his rivals in fundraising in recent months and he recently secured the National Rifle Association endorsement.
Stewart, who currently serves as chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is known for his aggressive, confrontational style of politics. He says that approach will be necessary to defeat incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine in November. He also claims that his ability to win in a blue part of Virginia makes him the natural choice for a nominee.
Freitas strongly disputes that.
“Donald Trump does not need a cheap imitation of himself in order to win in Virginia. There’s only one Donald Trump. Let Trump be Trump. What the Republican Party needs in Virginia is someone who can go around and explain and advocate for the positive, substantive policies that have made people’s lives better,” said Freitas.
“He thinks it’s a divide and conquer campaign. I think it’s more of a divide and lose campaign. It’s unfortunate because there are good things about Corey Stewart and there are good things he’s done in Prince William County.
“But there’s other things he’s done there that have really given people pause. He’s voted to raise taxes several times in Prince William County, and there’s other things that people are just skeptical of,” said Freitas.
Freitas believes he has the ability to bring people together to get things done.
“We need to be able to unify Virginians around a central message and that message is we’re going to empower you, not government programs,” said Freitas.
Freitas also believes he separates himself from Stewart and Jackson in three critical ways, starting with his service as a Green Beret in Iraq.
“I’m the only combat veteran in the race, which means I understand a key component of the federal government, which is providing for national defense. I fought counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency and unconventional warfare. President Trump needs more people in the Senate that share his view that we are not the police force in the world but we need a strong military and I can provide that kind of advice,” said Freitas, who believes the U.S. does need to be a leader on the world stage but does not need to deploy the military unless absolutely necessary.
He also says his time in the Virginia House of Delegates sets him apart from Stewart and Jackson.
“I’m also the only candidate that’s served in the legislature. So I understand what it’s like to take an idea from concept all the way through the legislative process. I know how to effectively engage constituents in the process when there’s that critical vote in the subcommittee or full committee,” said Freitas.
Third, Freitas says his message distinguishes him from the rest of the field. He says his goal is not to gain power to reward friends and punish political foes but to return power to where it belongs.
“My goal is to get in a position where we can disperse power back where it belongs and that’s to the people, that’s to states, and that’s to localities. And then if we keep the federal government within its proper boundaries so it can do its intended jobs well instead of doing a hundred other jobs poorly,” said Freitas.
But what does that look like for a candidate who embraces major strains of both conservative and libertarian thought? Where does he come down those beliefs conflict?
On the role of the military, Freitas believes in having a strong military and using overwhelming force whenever force is absolutely necessary. He also wants to see Congress return to its constitutional role of authorizing war.
On cultural issues, Freitas says his deeply-held Christian beliefs inform him on the definition of marriage but he believes much of the political debate over it misses a key point.
“You’ve got some people wanting the government to define marriage one way. You’ve got other people who want that government to define marriage another way. And I’m sitting here going, ‘Why is the government defining marriage?’
“I understand why government has to handle civil contracts, but I certainly don’t understand why the government needs to be in the process of coercing people to accept a particular definition that they may not want to,” said Freitas.
Freitas did introduce religious freedom legislation that would protect conscience rights for Virginians.
“(Former Virginia Gov.) Terry McAuliffe had signed an executive order which essentially prevented any religious organizations that happened to hold the viewpoint that marriage is between one man and one woman from being able to team with the government to help hungry, sick, and addicted people. I said that was ridiculous,” said Freitas.
On abortion, Freitas says science and the law make it clear that unborn life deserves protection.
“At the moment of conception, we’re talking about life. If we use science to determine between human life and other forms of life, we find at the moment of conception we’re talking about human life.
From a legal perspective, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re also talking about innocent human life. So the question for me is does the government have an obligation to protect innocent human life? I think it clearly does,” said Freitas, who was born out of a crisis pregnancy.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be that young woman who finds herself pregnant and completely unprepared for it, but I do know what it’s like to be her son,” he said.
On fiscal matters, Freitas is appalled by the $1.3 trillion omnibus shepherded through Congress and signed into law – all by Republicans. He says Congress desperately needs transparency and open debate on what is worthy of taxpayer money. He also says Congress, like the Virginia government, fails to use common sense on spending issues.
“On the things that we agree on – that are legitimate functions of government – the military, law enforcement, public safety, certain things with transportation and others – great, let’s fund them. But let’s not hold those things hostage because certain congresspeople have different goodies that they’ve got to hand out to various constituents to help their re-election chances,” said Freitas.
Freitas says he’s also ready to tackle health care policy, especially after fighting against Gov. Ralph Northam’s efforts to enact Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Virginia. In addition to stating that medical care for Medicaid patients is not much different than it is for the uninsured, he says government intervening in health care is a guaranteed failure.
“What’s so frustrating to me is that what wee clearly need in health care is more competition and more market forces, which always have a tendency to increase quality and drive down prices,”said Freitas, noting that the cost of vision correction surgery, such as Lasik, has dropped from $2,500 per eye to $500 per eye while the reliability of the procedure has improved drastically.
“Unfortunately, there are many, especially on the left, (for whom) the only solution they will accept is a government solution. The problem is government does the opposite of what we need. Government almost always causes prices to go up and quality to go down,” he said.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Virginia Del. Nick Freitas, who is also running for U.S. Senate, for his powerful arguments in defense of the second amendment, pointing out the hypocrisy and real goals of the left, and doing so in a calm and measured manner. They also roll their eyes as the Academy Awards telecast only addresses the sexual assault and harassment crises with vague euphemisms, as Hollywood pats itself on the back for changing without ever explaining what’s changed. And they shudder yet again at revelations that all Broward deputies at the site of the Florida school shooting were ordered to stand down.
Virginia Del. Nick Freitas says his U.S. Senate bid is not only about defeating Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine but about returning the Republicans back to a party that champions the ideals that make America strong.
Freitas, 38, is in his second term in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is also a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq in a special forces unit. He is married with three children.
And while he wants to replace Kaine in the U.S. Senate, Freitas says steering the Republican Party back on course is just as big of a goal.
“There’s an impulse by some that they want big-government Republicanism, where they concede some of the arguments of the progressive left that we need to have this nanny state and it would just be better if Republicans ran it.
“I completely reject that. I think the Republican Party needs to be the party of individual liberty. It needs to be the party of free markets and opportunity, and it needs to be the party of equal justice before the law,” said Freitas.
He says Republicans need to do a much better job of explaining not only what they believe but why they believe it.
“It’s not just about why we want tax reform or regulatory reform or greater opportunity within education. It’s about explaining that the reason we believe all those things goes back to this core fundamental belief and love for the individual person,” said Freitas, who says that view stands in complete contrast with how liberals look at people.
“I really despise how the modern left has manages to categorize people based many times on superficial distinctions. The left right now has four questions they want to ask you. What’s your skin color? What’s your gender? What’s your sexual orientation? How much money do you make?
“If you answer those four questions, they put you into a victim group and there you stay. I don’t see people that way. I see people as unique individuals with something to offer themselves, their families and society. The key for them to be able to do that is a government that stays within it’s constitutional boundaries and protects their librety and freedom to do so,” said Freitas.
He says once that approach to government is explained, then you can get down to policy.
“Then we explain why tax reform, why regulatory reform, why a greater educational opportunity, why a free market for health care helps the individual achieve all those things they want to and allows them to pursue happiness, that’s a winning message for the Republican Party.
“I want to see more people advocating for it so I decided to step up and make the argument,” said Freitas.
And Freitas believes making a strong case for those principles and supporting the pro-liberty aspects of the Trump agenda does not require a confrontational tone.
“The solution to that is not to yell and scream at everybody in Virginia and treat them like idiots if they don’t agree with us. The solution is to explain the benefits of those policies in such a way that they can relate to and feel an urge to support,” said Freitas.
Five Republicans are in the field for the GOP nomination, including Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who narrowly lost last year’s gubernatorial nomination, and Bishop E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013.
While vowing to focus on his message, Freitas believes he is the strongest candidate to return power to the individual.
“That’s not an attempt to disparage any of the other candidates that are running. I think they’re going to take a different approach to the Republican message. In a lot of ways, I think it’s going to look like the approach that’s been used before and quite frankly hasn’t worked very well in Virginia,” said Freitas.
“Corey Stewart is obviously going to take a very different approach than I will with respect to addressing these issues and to building the sort of coalition we need in Virginia to win elections,” said Freitas.
Republicans control the U.S. Senate by a narrow 51-49 majority and had some hits and misses in the first year of the Trump administration. The Senate managed to pass tax reform but failed to repeal Obamacare or deal with huge deficits.
Freitas says tax reform was “definitely a step in the right direction” and roundly applauds Trump for rolling back burdensome regulations, but he is frustrated by the GOP approach to spending.
“Everybody loves to cut taxes. Nobody loves to cut spending except for very few people, and that’s because we’re not going out there and actually making the argument for why this sort of government spending is not appropriate and what it’s going to mean for our children and future generations,” said Freitas.
If elected, Freitas says he’d be looking for a new GOP leader in the Senate.
“I’m not going to commit to vote for Mitch McConnell,” said Freitas. “I want to see someone that is going to push a bold and unapologetic argument for conservative principles. If we’re running on it, we shouldn’t be afraid to legislate it.”
Sen. Kaine, who was also the 2016 vice presidential nominee for the Democrats, is considered a big favorite to win a second term. But Freitas says he is ready to take the fight to Kaine over where the power in the United States should reside.
“It’s not that Tim is a horrible guy or a mean guy. Tim believes that the solution to our problems is more government control. Tim fundamentally believes that if he has more control over our lives, he’ll make things better,” said Freitas.
He says the contrast is clear.
“I believe that the way to achieve not only greater economic opportunity but greater equality before the law is by dispersing power, by taking it out of the hands of politicians and putting more control of decisions back in the hands of individuals,” said Freitas.
“It’s the parent whose child has been consigned to a failing school, giving that parent more options over where that child can go to school in order to craft a unique education for their child. It’s that person that wants to engage in the marketplace but can’t because federal regulations are holding them back. It’s the additional tax burden that prevents families from doing the things they need to do in order to be successful,” said Freitas.
While Freitas and Kaine disagree on a vast array of policy areas, Freitas says a few in particular come to mind first, including Kaine backing the FISA court without any concern over the fourth amendment rights of Americans, supporting tax increases and additional regulations on businesses, and consistently voting to protect late-term abortions.
“From individual policy perspectives all the way down to the core, the fundamental difference between Tim Kaine and I is Tim believes in controlling people. I believe in freeing people to be able to live their own lives. That’s going to influence every decision and that’s going to be the starkest contrast between Tim Kaine and myself,” said Freitas.
In addition to Kaine’s widespread name recognition and full bank account of over $9.2 million as of the end of 2017, Freitas and the other Republicans are running statewide just a year after Democrats convincingly swept all statewide offices. In fact, the GOP has not won a statewide race since 2009.
Freitas is not concerned. He says Virginia almost always goes the opposite way the year after a presidential election and that his approach to liberals in his district has won quite a few converts.
“I have people that are definitely left of center in my district support me and not just come out and vote but actively go out and support my candidacy against a liberal progressive Democrat.
“The reason for that was not because I was a Squish on the issues. It wasn’t because I walked away from tough votes. It wasn’t any of that. It was bcause I found the issues where there was overlap. For instance, I think we need criminal justice reform and so I’m carrying the bill on civil asset forfeiture reform to make sure the government can’t take your property and sell it off without a criminal conviction.
“I’ve carried the legislation that removes onerous regulations on growing industrial hemp in Virginia because, quite frankly, our farmers need this and people want access to the products,” said Freitas.
“One does not have to compromise any of their conservative principles to get a wide base of support, but they do have to spend time learning how to talk to people in a way that’s relevant to them, identifying the issues that are important when there’s room for cooperation, and then spending the time and energy to actually get the legislation passed,” said Freitas.
The U.S. Senate primary in Virginia is scheduled for June 12.