Daily Wire – Interview with Maine State Senator and Candidate for US Senate, Eric Brakey
Original Story – Daily Wire – by JEREMY FRANKEL – https://www.dailywire.com/news/33223/exclusive-interview-maine-state-senator-and-jeremy-frankel
Yesterday, I had the honor of interviewing Eric Brakey, the Republican candidate for the US Senate seat held currently by Angus King. Below is our exchange:
JF: Tell me about your background, how you became conservative. Were you always of this worldview? If not, how did you get here? Did you grow up with it, or did you adopt it later in life?
Eric: I grew up in a conservative home. My father always had Fox News on the TV and Rush Limbaugh on the radio. And during the George W. Bush years, I was the outspoken Republican kid in class in a very liberal community, parroting much of what I heard from Bill O’Reilly against all my liberal peers, including when it came to President Bush’s hawkish foreign policy. When our country invaded Iraq, I cheered with genuine belief that we were bringing freedom and democracy to an oppressed people.
It wasn’t until my college years (earning my BFA in Theatre Performance) that I began to question the establishment Republican narrative I’d believed all my life. Years of watching my friends go off to fight and risk their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan with little to show for it put some doubts in my mind.
In 2010, during the height of the Tea Party wave as I (like many others) was growing concerned about the bank bailouts and the $13 trillion national debt, my oldest brother gave me Ron Paul’s book, “The Revolution,” and it changed my whole worldview. I came to realize that the mainstream two party narrative was a lie: both parties were complicit in the erosion of our free society.
The hardest truth to accept, however, was that the wars I had believed so strongly in as a teenager were sold to me — and all the American people — based on lies and hundreds of thousands died as a result. American soldiers lost their lives, and so did many innocent civilians in these war torn regions.
After earning my degree, I moved to New York City to work as a professional theatre actor. During my two years in the city, I started showing up to debate watch parties hosted by the local grassroots Ron Paul movement. When I kept showing up, they started giving me things to do: designing flyers, tabling and identifying new supporters at Union Square. Before I knew it, I was helping to run the whole NYC grassroots operation, including organizing a huge rally with Ron Paul at Webster Hall — and that’s when someone told me to apply for a job with the Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign.
I was in the middle of making my career in the theatre and I didn’t plan to give that up, but it really seemed that our country was at a crossroads and I had a chance to make a difference. So I applied, interviewed and was offered a position. I left the life I had been building behind.
While the campaign had originally planned to send me to Colorado, I personally requested to be placed in Maine where my family goes back for ten generations. I came in as one of three staffers, organizing the Maine Ron Paul grassroots. Eventually, I became the statewide director and we went on to win the Maine Republican Convention (outmaneuvering Mitt Romney convention parliamentarian, Ben Ginsberg) in what one journalist at the time called, “the most successful political coup in recent Maine history” — electing a full slate of Ron Paul national delegates and taking a majority on the Maine Republican State Committee.
That win boiled over into further controversy at the Republican National Convention when an upset Mitt Romney Campaign led an effort to have our delegates disqualified. When our Governor, Paul LePage, threatened to boycott the convention in response, the RNC tried to split the baby, disqualifying half (including myself) and replacing us all with hand-picked Mitt Romney supporters. Not only did our Governor boycott the Convention, this decision lead to a mass walkout of convention delegates from across the country, chanting, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.”
After seeing what we were able to accomplish as a bunch of young, well-organized liberty activists, I knew the fight to restore our freedoms wasn’t over and I felt called to keep working to advance the cause.
Working with my colleague, David Boyer (who is currently the state director the Marijuana Policy Project and political director for this US Senate campaign), we started raising money to help local liberty Republicans run for state and local office.
Two years later, I decided to run myself against a Democrat incumbent who had held elected office for 36 consecutive years for the Maine State Senate in a Democrat-leaning district. The establishment discounted my chances, but knocking on 8,000 doors and breaking state fundraising records, I won in an 18 point landslide.
Upon election, with Republican control of the Senate and Democrat control of the House, I ushered through the passage of Constitutional Carry, Welfare Reform and Right to Try. Winning re-election by a larger margin the second time, I came back to the Senate and lead a bipartisan effort to reform Maine’s medical cannabis program, making our laws some of the most open and flexible for patients and legal businesses.
Now, I am running for the US Senate to fight for Maine and fight for liberty, just as I have done in Augusta, but in Washington DC.
JF: Wow, what an inspiring life story! What made you decide to run for national office, as opposed to staying in the State Senate?
Eric: Washington DC was recently identified by the US Census as the richest region in America with the five richest counties in America all being suburbs directly surrounding the Capital. Yet Washington DC produces very little of tangible value, so how did they become so rich? We all know the answer to that — by stealing from the rest of us who work real jobs in the real economy. While we work hard in Maine, the political class and the special interests grow wealthy on the back of our efforts. They steal from our paychecks with taxes, from our futures with debt, and from the value of our retirements when they print new money from thin air.
And sadly, this isn’t the most precious thing they steal from us. Ronald Reagan warned us a generation ago that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not passed on through the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and passed down to the next generation for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling out children and our children’s children about that time in America when men and women were free.”
Our constitutional liberties are being eroded as time goes on. Pick any amendment in the bill of rights (except the 3rd Amendment) and we can speak at length about how it has been eroded. Free speech is under assault across our country, our right to keep and bear arms is regularly being restricted, a surveillance state is growing up around us and a system of mass incarceration jails people for innumerable victimless crimes.
If we are to restore our freedoms in America, we must have leaders in Washington willing to fight for us and our Constitution.
JF: Who are your opponents and how are you doing against them?
Eric: I have two opponents in this three-way race.
My biggest opponent is the incumbent, Senator Angus King, an independent in name only who caucuses and votes with Chuck Schumer and has a more partisan Democrat voting record than many of the actual registered Democrats. Politically, he functions as an establishment, corporate welfare Democrat.
My other opponent is Zak Ringlestein, the Democratic nominee, who is a democratic socialist activist.
When you challenge any incumbent, it is going to be an uphill battle. Angus King has universal name recognition across Maine and access to millions in special interest dollars. But we have the message that resonates with Maine people who are sick and tired of getting kicked around by Washington DC.
JF: But what about you specifically makes you the ideal candidate to defeat this person?
Eric: As a libertarian Republican, I can bring together a coalition of voters that other Republicans have not been able to.
In the 2016 election, the votes for Donald Trump and Gary Johnson equaled a majority of the electorate.
At the same time, Maine people came out a passed a referendum to legalize cannabis for adults, while rejecting a gun control referendum that passed in every other state where it was on the ballot.
Maine people are libertarian at heart. We want outsiders in Washington DC to leave us alone and let us make our own choices in life. And that’s my message as Maine’s next US Senator.
JF: How is Maine in terms of the electorate ideologically? It seems that you have a relatively conservative governor, but consistently elect liberal Republicans and leftists to the Senate, and votes Democrat often for President. The mix seems interesting to say the least.
Eric: As I said above, Maine people are libertarian at heart. We want outsiders in Washington DC to leave us alone and let us make our own choices in life.
We also, largely, view ourselves as independent. Maine people don’t care about the party label to the same degree people do in other states.
For a time, Angus King has played on this, building his whole brand around being an “Independent.” He banks on the letter “I” next to his name on the ballot, giving him cover while his actions make him indistinguishable from a partisan Democrat.
The irony, of course, is this turns the independent spirit of Maine on its head. Maine people care much less about the letter next to your name and more about what you do. And that’s why so many Maine people who have voted for Angus King in the past are seeing through it. They are seeing how he behaves in Washington and swearing him off for good.
JF: Do you think you can flip this seat just in terms of those demographics alone?
Eric: Our message is the right message for Maine. Washington DC wants us fighting each other as Republicans versus Democrats so that we don’t join together against our true oppressors in the Capital. Our message transcends party politics: Maine people versus Washington DC. That’s why we are going to win. We are going to bring Maine people together to oppose our common foe.
JF: Have you received any endorsements yet? If yes, how has it impacted the race? Do you take this as a sign of hope?
Eric: I am proud to have received the endorsements of Governor Paul LePage, Senator Rand Paul, former Congressman Ron Paul, as well as many local legislators. Endorsements help, but at the end of the day, we are going to win by taking this message across the state to the Maine people.
JF: What do you think of Trump so far? What about the GOP Congress?
Eric: President Trump has surprised me in many ways. I was not a supporter of his during the Primary (my choice was Rand Paul), but I gave him a chance in the General. Since he has taken office, he has greatly surpassed my expectations, especially on foreign policy and the pursuit of diplomacy with the nations of North Korea and Russia. We will only ever achieve peace through dialogue. This past half century of diplomatic isolationism has not worked and I am glad to see President Trump taking a different strategy.
The GOP Congress, however, has been disappointing. They ran on fiscal conservatism and then end up spending as much money as the Democrats. They ran on the Constitution and then end up shredding the parts of it they don’t like. The problem is too few leaders who truly understand and value liberty. I look to a few rare individuals, like Senator Rand Paul and Senator Mike Lee, as examples of the best in Congress. I look forward to working alongside them to restore our freedoms.
JF: I agree entirely with that assessment actually. I originally was a Ted Cruz supporter but voted for Trump and have been really impressed so far. He’s delivering on whatever he can do unilaterally. Congress though, not so much, and they are holding Trump back on many of his promises. And we do have too few leaders in either chamber who are reliable votes for liberty.
What do you think would be your main focus, or focuses, when you get to Washington?
Eric: My first focus will be restoring fiscal sanity in Washington DC. We are $21 trillion in debt with $113 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That’s a bill of $1 million for every American taxpayer!
The current fiscal situation is dangerously unsustainable and represents and existential threat to our country. It appears likely that if our nation is ever to fall, it will not be from the enemy at our gates, but the debts on our balance sheets.
To contain this, we must cut spending. There are entire departments of the federal government that are both unconstitutional and wasteful, like the Federal Department of Education. The DOE has spends hundreds of billions in taxpayer money while providing only mandates and bureaucracy. Since its creation in the 1970s, the quality of education in America has only declined. It should be abolished.
My second focus will be defending the constitutional rights of all American people from further encroachment from Washington DC, doing everything I can to advocate for the restoration of our 10th Amendment, which would return a great deal of policy making authority to the states.
Our country was founded on the idea that the states were to be the laboratories of innovation and that government closest to home was most accountable to the people.
We have lost that as both Republicans and Democrats scramble for power in Washington DC to impose one-size-fits-all policies on all 352.7 million American. This isn’t working. It’s fracturing our nation and creating an unaccountable bureaucracy far-removed from the people with tremendous power over our lives.
JF: Why should Maine vote for you?
Eric: Both my opponents want a seat of power in Washington DC to tell Maine people how to live. I am the only candidate in this race running to get Washington DC to leave us alone.
JF: Awesome. How can people seeing this contribute or help out your campaign?
Eric: Anyone who wants to support our campaign to Fight for Maine and restore Liberty for the Little Guy can like us on Facebook (Eric Brakey for US Senate), follow us on Twitter and Instagram (SenatorBrakey) and donate to support our message at www.ericbrakey.com.
We are a grassroots driven campaign, so we also welcome anyone who would like to volunteer to spread the message by knocking on doors and making phone calls.
JF: Thank you so much for your time and good luck!