Former Navy SEAL looks to make waves in congressional campaign

Aaron Marsh Former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie  during his  interview on HAN Radio this weeek.

Aaron Marsh
Former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie during his interview on HAN Radio this weeek.

One thing that’s clear about the congressional campaign of Greenwich resident Carl Higbie is that he does not aim to be the typical politician.

The former Navy SEAL, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, is challenging U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th) and is looking not just to defeat the incumbent Democrat in November but also come up against the bosses inside the Connecticut Republican Party as he seeks the nomination against GOP front-runner Dan Debicella. With that in mind, Higbie is headed to next month’s state Republican convention to lay the groundwork for what he believes will be a successful primary campaign against Debicella in August. In an interview carried live Monday on HANRadio.com, he didn’t hold back.

“I come from a background of ‘what you see is what you get,’” Higbie said. “I was a soldier. I look my enemies in the eyes. Everything was black and white because there was no room for gray. There was no room for ‘Well, what if…’ and pandering. A well-executed bad plan was always better than a poorly-executed great plan where I came from. This election is going to be about that. I came in a little bit later than [Himes and Debicella] but I got the ball rolling very quickly and got a lot of people behind me.”

Higbie said he rejects the idea that a “black and white” view doesn’t fit with politics where he would have to represent a wide and diverse constituency in the Fourth District as well as work in Washington, D.C., where deals and compromises are considered part of the terrain. He said its politicians have made government “a gray area” to make sure people don’t know what they’re really up to.

‘Fiscal sanity’

His campaign is built around several ideas, the first of which he calls the need for “fiscal sanity.” Higbie is calling for reducing the corporate tax rate to 0% and, to offset that cost, a massive reform of welfare spending. He said that care should be taken with Social Security and Medicare because they’ve been paid into, but that instead of spending welfare, that money can be used for grant programs to start small businesses, creating jobs in the process; or the money could be used on education and job training. Higbie also called for slashing the federal government in half, including military spending because the current manpower isn’t needed.

By dropping the corporate tax rate to zero, Higbie said companies that have shipped jobs to other countries will come back to America, creating new jobs here for people who are no longer receiving welfare.

“We want everyone to be part of society and not just part of the government dole,” Higbie said. “This money that was once just used for a check can now go to education and jobs programs. Ultimately we’re going to get completely off this. The Democrats for so long have said, ‘Hey we need unemployment benefits. We need welfare. We need checks for these people;’ but the fact of the matter is the Democratic Party and the liberal left agenda has tried to essentially enslave the lower middle class by saying ‘You need the government. You need us and we’re going to keep giving and giving.’ Sure it sounds appealing but the bottom line is the Republican Party is the party that wants the upward mobility.”

After his two tours in Iraq, Higbie said he has seen first hand the need for more spending on veterans to ensure they get the physical and mental health help they need upon returning home — and assistance getting a job or starting a business of their own.

Obamacare

Higbie also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. While the White House has trumpeted eight million sign-ups for health care under the law, Higbie says he doubts that numbers are accurate, noting not enough information was released about who has paid for their health care. And he also notes past lies about Obamacare by the government.

Instead of the current law, Higbie said he would go back to the old system, but with changes such as allowing for more competition between states for insurance rates and a curb on malpractice suits to try and curb costs.

Social issues

One of the tent poles of Higbie’s campaign is that he does not want to get bogged down in the social issues that so many politicians focus on. He said that’s not nearly as important to people as a focus on reducing the federal debt and creating jobs. That means, while he is personally pro life, he says not to expect to see him championing new legislation on abortions.

The establishment

Higbie said he wants people to know exactly where he stands on the issues so there could never be any doubt or confusion.

“That’s how politics needs to be,” Higbie said. “People have become accepting of this ridiculousness of not answering the question and beating around the bush. That shouldn’t be acceptable anymore.”

“I fight a lot of the establishment Republicans here,” Higbie said. “Some things need compromise and I’ve done that but I’m not going to compromise on things that compromise my country.”

Himes and his predecessor, Christopher Shays  — though they are of different parties — both have taken pains in their campaigns to run as moderates eager to work with the opposite side in Washington. But Higbie rejects that.

“I’m fighting for a better America, I’m not fighting based on party policies,” Higbie said.

A summer primary?

Debicella is the front-runner in the race and his campaign announced this week that it secured the public endorsement of 51% of the delegates, essentially sewing up the convention’s nomination. Higbie said he’s not surprised by this news and his eye is on a primary in August. So he will be going to next month’s convention looking for between 15-30% support to push his campaign forward.

If a candidate receives 15% of the delegates, he automatically qualifies for the August primary. Without 15% of the delegates, he would need to petition his way into a primary.

Higbie trumpets his donations of small amounts like $1 or $5 or $20 because he said this shows that his message is resonating with the average voter. But now, with what he calls momentum inside his campaign, Higbie is looking for the kind of donations that come with bigger checks, the kind of funding he will need to take this primary through August where, with elections classically showing low turnouts, anything can happen. To that end he will be holding fund-raisers in Greenwich on Tuesday, April 29, at the Two Door Restaurant, 176 Hamilton Avenue.; and at the C. Parker Gallery, 17 East Putnam Avenue., on Tuesday, May 6.

 

The complete interview is at HANradio.com.

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