Three seek nomination for 8th District seat
By Jane Myhra
The Republican candidates for U.S. Congress from Wisconsin’s 8th District answered audience questions during a forum held Wednesday, June 15, at the Little Wolf Town Hall, Manawa.
The candidates running in the Aug. 9 primary election for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble are Terry McNulty, Forestville village president and surveyor; Frank Lasee, Wisconsin state senator; and Mike Gallagher, market strategist for Breakthrough Fuel in Green Bay.
“For the first time in history, Wisconsin is playing a key role in the November presidential election,” said state Rep. Kevin Petersen. “Any of these three would make a great 8th District representative.”
“We want to know what we need to know to choose the right candidate in the primary,” said forum moderator Jim King.
In his opening statement, Gallagher called the recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida, “an act of radical Islamic terrorism.”
As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iran, he laid out three steps necessary to fight ISIS: Take the fight to them, secure U.S. borders and win the war in cyberspace.
“It’s a difficult problem,” Lasee said. “Radical Islams are all over our country.” His suggestion is to “Stop the oil that ISIS is selling to Turkey to fund their efforts.”
“The scariest thing to me is these people are in our country,” McNulty said. “We need to enforce the laws we have and then do immigration correctly.”
Lasee said his record in the state Senate proves he is a conservative. “We need to work in the real world on real world reforms and I have the experience to do that,” he said.
“I am the working guy,” McNulty said. “As a small business owner I know how bad it is.” Also a military veteran, he said he is a true conservative, with faith-based values.
“I don’t think it’s hard to do things that are right,” McNulty said.
Gallagher was greatly impacted by the 9-11 attacks, when he realized, “There are people in this world dedicated to our destruction.” In college, he studied Arabic and the Middle East, before commanding an intelligence team of Marines in Iraq.
“Now that country is overrun by ISIS,” Gallagher said. “We have allowed this to happen because we have abandoned our allies. Now we are not even safe at home.”
“People need to step up and fight to take this country back from the bureaucrats who aren’t solving problems,” he said.
This remark triggered an accusation from Lasee that Gallagher is part of the bureaucracy because he served as a D.C. staffer. This, Lasee said, is the big difference between him and Gallagher.
“I don’t want to join the cocktail circuit in D.C., I want to get things done,” Lasee said. “I have the ability to get things done.”
Gallagher replied that during most of his time in Washington, D.C, he was wearing a Marine uniform.
“I have never attacked you,” Gallagher said to Lasee, “but since day one you have attacked me, my family and my campaign. We are trying to run a positive campaign.”
In turn, he accused Lasee of running the type of campaign of a career politician.
“We don’t need more career politicians,” Gallagher said.
McNulty acknowledged he knew Gallagher was a Marine and that Lasee is his current representative in the state senate. “We have had some differences in the way we get things done,” he said about Lasee.
The candidates were asked what can be done about undocumented immigrants. To this, McNulty said, “When we catch them doing something wrong, put them on a bus and send them back. We need to enforce our laws.”
Lasee said there is no follow up when immigrants outstay their visas.
“We need to deport them and secure our borders,” he said. “It is a real problem that needs to be fixed.”
Lasee said some employers rely on immigrant workers, for which a work visa program could be enforced.
Gallagher listed three steps needed to handle the situation: Secure the border, enforce the law, and fix the broken immigration system. “We need a state-based immigration worker program,” he said.
Asked for the three most pressing issues in the United States, Lasee first listed national debt. “We are at $19 trillion and growing,” he said, “and no one in D.C. seems to care.”
His other issues were abuse of elected bureaucrats, such as in over regulation of power plants, and the ISIS threat.
Gallagher listed the threat from radical Islamic, the growth of the federal government and elected officials failing to do their job. “There is complete loss of faith in the system,” he said. “There should be term limits. Congress shouldn’t be a career.”
“Security is number one,” McNulty said. “We are not as safe as we once were.”
He also listed the lack of a balanced budget, over taxing of businesses, and the need to get back to a citizen government instead of having career politicians.
All three candidates said they would support a bill to label meat with country of origin.
“We need smart regulation,” Gallagher said.
“People need to know what they’re eating,” McNulty said.
“People need to have confidence that the things they are buying are healthy,” Lasee said.
The candidates were asked what could be done about the loss of jobs to overseas manufacturers.
“We are losing jobs due to the healthcare act,” McNulty said. He also suggested that imports need to have more tariffs.
“We have a lot of regulations that never stop coming,” Lasee said.
He noted that proposed rules could double or triple electric rates, which may encourage businesses to ship work overseas.
“We have the highest corporate taxes in the world,” he said. “We need more free trade, not more tariffs.”
Manufacturing jobs have been declining since the 1970s, according to Gallagher.
“With the technology we have, we should be on the cusp of a golden age,” he said.
When asked about term limits for politicians, Lasee said he can’t see this ever coming up for a vote due to the number of career politicians currently in office.
“It’s easy to say a lot of things to get elected, but I am the only state senator with a 100 percent record with the American Conservative Union,” Lasee said. “You can count on me because I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.”
Gallagher said the time has come to limit terms, but it should also apply to staff members. “I believe in the model of a citizen legislature,” he said. “If Congress doesn’t do its job of passing a budget, they shouldn’t get paid. We have to take on the hard challenges.”
“We need to get politicians back to work in Congress,” he said.
“Six years is enough for anyone to be in office.”
When asked how to solve the issue of a divided country, Gallagher said, “Congress needs to have an honest conversation with the people about where we are and why.”
“I wouldn’t be running if I wasn’t willing to give it my all,” he said.
“We need to get back to the everyday people and enforce laws,” McNulty said. “Tough love is part of my benefit reform plan.”
Lasee said he has dealt with a divided government. “I have seen it,” he said. “Many politicians don’t want reform.”
The candidates were asked how they think the House and Senate have performed.
“I don’t think the people are happy with what’s happening,” McNulty said.
“We continue to increase spending,” Lasee said. “They are afraid to send a plain vanilla budget to the president.”
“We need Republicans who are going to go out there and do it,” he added. “I have done my job standing tough and pulling to the right.”
Gallagher gave a fail rating to both the House and Senate. He based the rating on the numbers 2021, 150 and 22.
“By the year 2021, we will spend more money on our debt interest than on our military,” he said. “$150 billion is the amount of sanction relief to Islamics under the current nuclear bill. And, today 22 veterans will take their own lives because we failed to identify a problem.”
In his closing statement, McNulty said his focus is on national security, a balanced budget and term limits for politicians.
Gallagher said “The Star Spangled Banner” is the only national anthem that ends with a question. “Our task is to always be able to answer yes to that question,” he said.
Lasee said he has a stellar conservative record, the most experience pushing for conservative issues and always has supported the right kind of bills.
The forum was sponsored by the Waupaca County Republican Party. A second forum, focusing on Waupaca County candidates, will be held July 20.