Candidate speaks to American Legion
By Bert Lehman
Mike Gallagher, a Republican candidate for the Eighth Congressional seat, spoke at the American Legion in Clintonville Thursday, July 28.
Gallagher said he grew up in Green Bay, in a large Irish Catholic family that has been in the area since around 1845. His family owned Gallagher’s Pizza, where he grew up working.
After high school, Gallagher attended Princeton, where he studied Arabic and the Middle East.
“The more I engaged with these issues, the fact there were groups out there intent on destroying us, and the idea my county was at war, I felt compelled to step up,” Gallagher said. “Even though I didn’t come from a military family, I felt that I had a debt that I had to repay to this community and my family and this country.”
Gallagher said the same day he graduated from Princeton, he joined the Marine Corps. He served seven years of active duty, including two deployments in western Iraq, where he commanded a team of Marines in 2007 and 2008.
When he was ready to leave the Marine Corps, Gen. David Petraeus asked Gallagher to work for him.
“I went back to the Middle East for that,” Gallagher said. “That experience convinced me to stick around the Marine Corps for another four years. I worked in the intelligence community for three years. I worked in the National Counter Terrorism Center, the Drug Enforcement Agency Special Ops division, and when I got off active duty in 2013, I went to work as the lead Republican for counterterrorism in the Middle East and North Africa on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
He eventually joined the staff of Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential bid as a national security advisor.
“When that ended I took a job in Green Bay,” he said.
Gallagher said he was going to continue his job in Green Bay, as well as pursue teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, when he was approached about running for the congressional seat being vacated by Reid Ribble.
After initially resisting, Gallagher announced on Feb. 28 that he would make a run for the seat.
“As much as this was never part of my plan, I just felt compelled as a private citizen to step up, for many of the same reasons I felt compelled to step up 10 years ago,” Gallagher said.
In addition to graduating from Princeton, Gallagher also received a doctorate from Georgetown University.
“I do generally believe that after seven years in the Marine Corp, three in the intelligence community, a couple on the Foreign Relations Committee, and work in the private sector, that all the problems we face, all the enemies we face, foreign and domestic, are really symptoms of the same disease,” Gallagher said. “And that’s the lack of leadership and moral courage of career politicians and unelected bureaucrats, who frankly worry more about their careers, paychecks and getting re-elected.”
He added, “I fear that if we don’t find a way to restore that trust and restore power back down to the people and at least have representatives that are capable of doing the right thing, what kind of country are we passing on to the next generation?”
Gallagher said he feels like he has received a gift from his parent’s generation, and it is his duty to pass that gift on to the next generation.
“As Reagan said, ‘Freedom is only one generation away from extinction,’” Gallagher added.
If elected, Gallagher said that within his first 100 days of office he will introduce, “no budget, no pay” legislation.
“If you don’t do your job, you shouldn’t get paid,” he said. “Congress shouldn’t be any different.”
In addition, he said he wants to eliminate congressional pensions, so the system doesn’t provide incentives for elected officials to stay 20 to 30 years.
“I feel that we have a very narrow window over the next decade to solve the issue of looming debt and anemic growth,” Gallagher said.
Health care also has to be addressed, Gallagher said.
“Obamacare is actually destroying what was a very unique system of health care that we had in Wisconsin,” he said.
The safety of the United States is also a concern of Gallagher. He said the town in Iraq where he was deployed is now under the control of ISIS.
“I’ve seen how far we have fallen in just a short period of time,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher is on the Republican ballot for the Aug. 9 primary, along with State Sen. Frank Lasee and Terry McNulty.