(The Center Square) – Three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Tuesday's Virginia primary are hoping to win a chance to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner in November's general election.
Alissa Baldwin, Daniel Gade and Thomas Speciale will be on the Republican primary ballot.
Warner, who does not have to compete in a Democratic primary, has served in the Senate since 2008, gathering nearly two-thirds of the vote that year against Jim Gilmore and then squeaking past Ed Gillespie in 2014 to win a second term. Warner is the vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and formerly served as governor of Virginia.
A closer look at the Republicans hoping to unseat Warner:
Baldwin is a civics teacher who said she planned to bring her knowledge of the U.S. Constitution into the race.
“Virginia needs someone who is a highly principled conservative and passionate advocate for people above partisan politics,” Baldwin told The Center Square. “That candidate is me. Virginians deserve better than a career politician. I can win against Warner because I am the ultimate political outsider, a grassroots Republican candidate of the people, an average American patriot, a strong servant leader, and an excellent listener and communicator. I can beat him with his voting record and my knowledge of the Constitution as a civics teacher living her teaching."
Some of Baldwin’s key issues include education reform, health care reform, immigration reform and pro-life legislation. She also supports President Donald Trump’s efforts on deregulation, tax relief, trade policies and criminal justice reform.
Deregulation, Baldwin said, leads to diversification, with entrepreneurs having the freedom to be more creative and dream big. She said tax relief benefits everyone, and shrinking the federal government to its constitutionally provisioned functions provides more liberty and a better financial outcome for people today and future generations.
Baldwin also commended Trump’s trade negotiations and said she would be a Republican voice in support of the president. She also said she supports Trump’s criminal justice reform efforts, which includes the First Step Act.
“I am proud of the issues and solutions-based, positive/clean campaign we have run against fellow Republicans and American patriots, from the original field of candidates to the current contenders on the ballot,” Baldwin said. “It is my heart’s desire to continue my track record of service above self and make the Constitution great again in the process.”
Gade, a military veteran who lost his right leg in the Iraq war, has served in former President George W. Bush’s administration and Trump’s administration. He has taught at the United States Military Academy and is a professor at American University. Gade has secured some key endorsements, including Texas U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw and former Virginia U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell.
“When I was 17, I took an oath to serve the Constitution and protect our rights and way of life, including sacrificing greatly in combat,” Gade told The Center Square. “... The oath I took at 17 remains, but my new mission is different. My mission is to serve [Virginians]. I am ready for the work and know the people of Virginia are ready to elect a servant over a career politician.”
If elected, Gade said some of his key issues will be small businesses, health care and ending corruption in the government.
Gade said he would fight to regain economic growth for Virginians post-COVID-19. He said small businesses are the backbone of the nation’s economy, but that they are suffering. He said the country needs to get people safely back to work while following guidance from White House health experts.
Gade said Republicans have lost on health care, but this will be an issue he prioritizes. He said he would work to create a system that protects those with pre-existing conditions, enables free markets and uses competition and innovation to drive down prices.
The first bill Gade said he would introduce would be a Stop Inside Trading Act, which would require members to put their assets in a blind trust and deny them communications with their stockbrokers. He said senators, including Warner, have gone to Washington to line their pockets, rather than to serve the people.
“My guiding principles in the Senate will be to limit government, promote free markets, maintain a strong national defense and protect individual liberties,” Gade said. “This election is about so much more than any single issue facing Virginia. This election is about limiting the role of government in our lives and allowing individuals to thrive and live their lives as they see fit. Virginians, whether in [northern Virginia], the shore or along I-81, have been unfortunately plagued with politicians who believe they get to legislate and dictate every aspect of our lives. My opponent views this race as a way to keep his power. I view it as a way to restore power to the people.”
Speciale has been on active duty or served in the Army Reserve since 1987 and has experience in the intelligence community.
“I know more about what’s going on in the world than Mark Warner,” Speciale told The Center Square. He said his experience will help him handle security situations in China, Iran and other countries better than any other candidate.
Speciale said he would focus on immigration reform, which includes building a wall; mental health problems, which he says are masked as gun problems; preserving the American dream; and criminal justice reform.
Speciale said he plans to take Virginia values to Washington to handle these issues, rather than California or New York values, which he said Warner represents on behalf of his donors.
The American dream, Speciale said, is helping Americans become the most efficient consumer possible. He said he supports the president’s efforts on deregulation and tax relief, which he believes help the economy.
“You cannot tax your way out of debt,” Speciale said. “It cripples your economy.”
On Trump’s criminal justice reform efforts, Speciale said Trump couldn’t have a better ally than him. He also said he supports Trump’s trade policies on China because China has been waging economic war on the U.S. for decades.
Speciale said Republicans often run candidates who are Republican in name only, which leads to people not showing up to vote for them. He said he, on the other hand, is a regular guy who drives a Jeep, drinks beer, smokes cigars and didn’t reach out to establishment donors.
“I’m a speak-truth-to-power guy,” Speciale said.