Virginia Del. Nick Freitas says his U.S. Senate bid is not only about defeating Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine but about returning the Republicans back to a party that champions the ideals that make America strong.
Freitas, 38, is in his second term in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is also a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq in a special forces unit. He is married with three children.
And while he wants to replace Kaine in the U.S. Senate, Freitas says steering the Republican Party back on course is just as big of a goal.
“There’s an impulse by some that they want big-government Republicanism, where they concede some of the arguments of the progressive left that we need to have this nanny state and it would just be better if Republicans ran it.
“I completely reject that. I think the Republican Party needs to be the party of individual liberty. It needs to be the party of free markets and opportunity, and it needs to be the party of equal justice before the law,” said Freitas.
He says Republicans need to do a much better job of explaining not only what they believe but why they believe it.
“It’s not just about why we want tax reform or regulatory reform or greater opportunity within education. It’s about explaining that the reason we believe all those things goes back to this core fundamental belief and love for the individual person,” said Freitas, who says that view stands in complete contrast with how liberals look at people.
“I really despise how the modern left has managed to categorize people based many times on superficial distinctions. The left right now has four questions they want to ask you. What’s your skin color? What’s your gender? What’s your sexual orientation? How much money do you make?
“If you answer those four questions, they put you into a victim group and there you stay. I don’t see people that way. I see people as unique individuals with something to offer themselves, their families and society. The key for them to be able to do that is a government that stays within it’s constitutional boundaries and protects their liberty and freedom to do so,” said Freitas.
He says once that approach to government is explained, then you can get down to policy.
“Then we explain why tax reform, why regulatory reform, why a greater educational opportunity, why a free market for health care helps the individual achieve all those things they want to and allows them to pursue happiness, that’s a winning message for the Republican Party.
“I want to see more people advocating for it so I decided to step up and make the argument,” said Freitas.
And Freitas believes making a strong case for those principles and supporting the pro-liberty aspects of the Trump agenda does not require a confrontational tone.
“The solution to that is not to yell and scream at everybody in Virginia and treat them like idiots if they don’t agree with us. The solution is to explain the benefits of those policies in such a way that they can relate to and feel an urge to support,” said Freitas.
Five Republicans are in the field for the GOP nomination, including Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who narrowly lost last year’s gubernatorial nomination, and Bishop E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013.
While vowing to focus on his message, Freitas believes he is the strongest candidate to return power to the individual.
“That’s not an attempt to disparage any of the other candidates that are running. I think they’re going to take a different approach to the Republican message. In a lot of ways, I think it’s going to look like the approach that’s been used before and quite frankly hasn’t worked very well in Virginia,” said Freitas.
“Corey Stewart is obviously going to take a very different approach than I will with respect to addressing these issues and to building the sort of coalition we need in Virginia to win elections,” said Freitas.
Republicans control the U.S. Senate by a narrow 51-49 majority and had some hits and misses in the first year of the Trump administration. The Senate managed to pass tax reform but failed to repeal Obamacare or deal with huge deficits.
Freitas says tax reform was “definitely a step in the right direction” and roundly applauds Trump for rolling back burdensome regulations, but he is frustrated by the GOP approach to spending.
“Everybody loves to cut taxes. Nobody loves to cut spending except for very few people, and that’s because we’re not going out there and actually making the argument for why this sort of government spending is not appropriate and what it’s going to mean for our children and future generations,” said Freitas.
If elected, Freitas says he’d be looking for a new GOP leader in the Senate.
“I’m not going to commit to vote for Mitch McConnell,” said Freitas. “I want to see someone that is going to push a bold and unapologetic argument for conservative principles. If we’re running on it, we shouldn’t be afraid to legislate it.”
Kaine, who was also the 2016 vice presidential nominee for the Democrats, is considered a big favorite to win a second term. But Freitas says he is ready to take the fight to Kaine over where the power in the United States should reside.
“It’s not that Tim is a horrible guy or a mean guy. Tim believes that the solution to our problems is more government control. Tim fundamentally believes that if he has more control over our lives, he’ll make things better,” said Freitas.
He says the contrast is clear.
“I believe that the way to achieve not only greater economic opportunity but greater equality before the law is by dispersing power, by taking it out of the hands of politicians and putting more control of decisions back in the hands of individuals,” said Freitas.
“It’s the parent whose child has been consigned to a failing school, giving that parent more options over where that child can go to school in order to craft a unique education for their child. It’s that person that wants to engage in the marketplace but can’t because federal regulations are holding them back. It’s the additional tax burden that prevents families from doing the things they need to do in order to be successful,” said Freitas.
While Freitas and Kaine disagree on a vast array of policy areas, Freitas says a few in particular come to mind first, including Kaine backing the FISA court without any concern over the fourth amendment rights of Americans, supporting tax increases and additional regulations on businesses, and consistently voting to protect late-term abortions.
“From individual policy perspectives all the way down to the core, the fundamental difference between Tim Kaine and I is Tim believes in controlling people. I believe in freeing people to be able to live their own lives. That’s going to influence every decision and that’s going to be the starkest contrast between Tim Kaine and myself,” said Freitas.
In addition to Kaine’s widespread name recognition and full bank account of over $9.2 million as of the end of 2017, Freitas and the other Republicans are running statewide just a year after Democrats convincingly swept all statewide offices. In fact, the GOP has not won a statewide race since 2009.
Freitas is not concerned. He says Virginia almost always goes the opposite way the year after a presidential election and that his approach to liberals in his district has won quite a few converts.
“I have people that are definitely left of center in my district support me and not just come out and vote but actively go out and support my candidacy against a liberal progressive Democrat.
“The reason for that was not because I was a Squish on the issues. It wasn’t because I walked away from tough votes. It wasn’t any of that. It was bcause I found the issues where there was overlap. For instance, I think we need criminal justice reform and so I’m carrying the bill on civil asset forfeiture reform to make sure the government can’t take your property and sell it off without a criminal conviction.
“I’ve carried the legislation that removes onerous regulations on growing industrial hemp in Virginia because, quite frankly, our farmers need this and people want access to the products,” said Freitas.
“One does not have to compromise any of their conservative principles to get a wide base of support, but they do have to spend time learning how to talk to people in a way that’s relevant to them, identifying the issues that are important when there’s room for cooperation, and then spending the time and energy to actually get the legislation passed,” said Freitas.
The U.S. Senate primary in Virginia is scheduled for June 12.