Gallagher: Politicians put careers over country

Green Bay Republican seeking 8th District seat

Michael Gallagher

Mike Gallagher, one of three candidates in the Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District next month, views his possible role in Congress much as he did his role serving in Iraq.

“The system will be better served if there were more private citizens from all walks of life who treat this more like a deployment than a career,” he said.

Gallagher, of Green Bay, sat down with a Shawano Leader reporter during a visit to the city Tuesday.

Gallagher served seven years on active duty as a human intelligence/counterintelligence officer and regional affairs officer for the Middle East and North Africa, earning the rank of captain. During his service he deployed twice to Al Anbar Province, Iraq, as a commander of intelligence teams.

Gallagher blames the Obama administration and “leading from behind” as the reasons for the deterioration in conditions in Iraq since he left in 2008, where the town he had been deployed to is now under ISIS control.

Gallagher criticized elected officials from both parties for putting their political careers over service to their country.

“I think both parties have often been guilty of increasing the power of the presidency and the legislative branch,” he said. “I fear we’re losing trust in the basic institutions of government across the board.”

“All the enemies we face, foreign and domestic, are symptoms of the same disease, and that’s a lack of leadership and moral courage from career politicians and unelected bureaucrats who care more about their careers than they do about the country,” Gallagher said.

“I’m an American first, a conservative and a Republican,” he said. “I took an oath 10 years ago to support the Constitution, not to serve a political party.”

Nevertheless, Gallagher said he supports GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, in spite of political and philosophical differences, because he is the Republican nominee.

“I’m going to vote for our nominee,” he said.

“He’s tapped into a general frustration with the direction of the country, and that’s a large part of why I’m running,” he said.

Gallagher couldn’t say whether having Trump at the top of the ticket was a help or a hindrance.

“This is about the craziest political year that I can remember,” he said. “Getting the message out there is the only variable that I can control.”

Gallagher conceded that the message of the Republican Party is a little muddled these days.

“It’s difficult to discern what is the uniting philosophy behind the Republican Party right now,” he said.

Gallagher expressed differences with Trump on some key issues, including Trump’s statements that the U.S. could back away from its obligations to NATO.

“We shouldn’t be suggesting to Vladimir Putin that we are unwilling to hold up and honor our Article 5 commitments under NATO,” Gallagher said.

He said that’s one of other areas where he could disagree with the party.

“I suspect there will be many areas where I agree with people in our party and many where I disagree,” he said. “I’m not running to serve the Republican Party in Congress. I’m running to serve the people of the 8th District.”

Gallagher said he is hoping to provide an an alternative model for congressional service.

He said he would work to end government pensions that incentivize politicians to make their public service a career.

He also said he would introduce legislation to keep Congress from getting paid if it doesn’t pass a budget.

Gallagher also said he supports a balanced budget amendment.

Gallagher said the Republican Party needs to put forward an alternative to Obamacare rather than continually voting to repeal it.

“It’s not enough for Republicans to say, ‘Obamacare bad.’ We also need to articulate what a good alternative like that looks like that people can believe in,” he said.

Gallagher said his conservative values were the driving force of his campaign.

“I believe in conservative values as necessary to the future of the country,” he said. “I will not compromise those values or those principles.”

Gallagher is vying for the GOP nomination for the 8th Congressional District held for three terms by Reid Ribble, who recently came out against Donald Trump and said he would consider supporting the Libertarian ticket.

Ribble on Monday also endorsed Gallagher as his replacement saying he has the foreign policy experience, fundraising ability and status as a political outsider needed to mount a strong general election campaign.

Gallagher is facing Frank Lasee, of De Pere, and Terry McNulty, of Forestville, for the GOP nomination on Aug. 9.