Chris Andrade calls himself "a different kind of Republican".
The 30-year military veteran from Fayetteville filed to run in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District race about a week before the deadline.
As a first-time candidate with little financial backing so far, Andrade spends his days traveling the district. During his conversation with WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn for this Candidate Profile, the married father of three says he won’t focus on what he’s against or what he doesn’t have compared to his rivals; his sights are set squarely on his commitment to service – and getting beyond the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
CA: I spent 30 years in the military: four years in the United States Marine Corps, twenty-six years in the Army. And in the Army you have people from all backgrounds, all walks of life, and they share a common purpose. And all those ideas come to the forefront, and failure is not an option in the military. You have to succeed. So I want to take that mentality to Washington.
RLH: Your views on the Affordable Care Act are also very different from your Republican counterparts. You say you’re opposed to “Repeal and Smash” – which is your characterization of a popular Republican position. What are the nuances that you think are missing in this conversation?
CA: Health care is an ongoing, daily need. There are people tomorrow that are going to need lifesaving medical care. If you smash something, what do they have? Repeal is a great slogan, but you’d better have something in place if you want to get rid of the current implementation of the health care system so that the American people, who are already disappointed, and are already suffering and are already paying higher costs have a health care system that they can use immediately upon new implementation of a healthcare plan. And I haven’t seen one.
RLH: You have very specific ideas about solving intractable problems. You've written draft legislation to address immigration reform. And you have some unconventional positions on social issues. Where do you stand on gay marriage?
CA: I don’t stand on gay marriage other than what the Constitution says. If we’re Constitutional Conservatives in my party, then we’ve got to follow the Constitution. The 14th Amendment gives equal protection to all citizens. And I think that if two consenting adults of same gender want to enter into a legal contract and have a civil union that’s tied to civil law for that particular state, they should have a right to do so. And I think it’s going to stand the test of time, and the Congress is going to put forth legislation or states are going to put forth legislation, but it’s going to be eventually vetted by the Supreme Court. And we are going to have to stand by what the Supreme Court says the Constitution about gay marriage.
RLH: Another area where you seem to not really toe the Republican Party line is when you talk about deregulation of the financial industry, the killing of the Glass-Steagall Act – or at least the components of it that separated securities from banking. Can you talk about why you think that was a bad move and the effect it’s had on consumers?
CA: Now, the party line is Capitalism, but when investment banks made deals that they well knew were shaky and they applied leverage – which is risk and took undue risk with the peoples’ money and put their pensions and their 401ks and their savings at risk to make huge sums of money, and then their efforts failed when the housing bubble burst. They got bailed out by the American taxpayer whose money they were risking in the first place. Now I don’t know what you call that, but that ain’t Capitalism.
Because in the old days of Glass-Steagall, if members of an investment firm invested money in a risky investment and that investment failed, they lost their money.
RLH: Looking at this realistically – you are a newcomer. A lot of people don’t know you. Are you a contender?
CA: I’m not running against David Rouzer and Woody White. I’m running for the constituents of the 7th District of North Carolina and giving them another choice.
When I got promoted to Sergeant Major, which is the highest rank attainable in the enlisted ranks of the United States Army, what I told the people there at my promotion was this rank isn’t for me. This rank is for the soldiers that the Army now has entrusted me with and said that I possess the potential to lead an even greater number of soldiers. So it isn’t about me. It’s never been about me. It’s been about the responsibility that I have and I intent to take this responsibility very seriously.
RLH: Chris Andrade, thanks so much for joining us today.
CA: You’re very welcome. Thanks for this opportunity.
While Andrade calls himself a Constitutional Conservative, many of his ideas diverge from current Republican positions – exemplified by his approach to the Affordable Care Act.
RLH: The Republican Party line on that issue is “Repeal it.” Why are you so different?
CA: Because it’s pragmatic leadership and it’s pragmatic solution. You can’t just repeal anything. Let me give you an example. For ideological reasons, the government was shut down by the Republican Party. And it might have been a passionate position, but it was the wrong execution because it didn’t serve any good to shut the government down. It didn’t do any good. It actually hurt the Party.
Now we’re talking about something more tangible like peoples’ personal health. And you can’t just shut something down and leave them with nothing.
RLH: But what do you say to the argument that mandating coverage is in some ways an intrusion of the federal government on individual American liberties?
CA: We’re mandated every day for good reasons. Every time you stop at a stop light, you’re regulated, and that’s for the public safety. And we can’t go back to old system where [people] go to an emergency room. Now you’re mandating other people that go to the hospital to pay higher costs to pay for that.
Andrade says he’s proud to be a Republican, but the division plaguing the Party boils down to two related issues: a lack of leadership because the Party lacks a plan.