Republican Jeff Landry is running for federal office for the first time, and as a candidate for Congress in Louisiana’s 3rd District he’s staking out a position as a major factor in the race to succeed outgoing Democrat Charlie Melancon. TheHayride.com posed 20 questions to Landry over the weekend, and he was kind enough to give us 20 answers…
1.Why are you running for Congress? What should 3rd District voters take from your candidacy in terms of qualifications, expertise or ideas?
I believe that the Federal Government is out of Control. Under Pelosi and Obama, the size of government has been growing as fast as Louisiana’s coast is eroding. In addition our liberties and freedoms have been eroding as well.
When Congressman Charlie Melancon decided to leave his seat; I waited for months for a true conservative, someone with business experience, who understood what it takes to create good paying jobs to step forward. Someone, whom I could trust to help build a bright future for my son and the scores of other children in South Louisiana.
As I waited I watched old-time politicians contemplate running. Politicians who have been confused as to what party they belong to, what values they believe in. That only solidified my belief that if we were going to turn this country around, we needed to send someone to Washington who would put the people before the politicians, someone who had not been drinking out of the taxpayers cup for years.
So after thoughtful prayer and several discussions with my wife, Sharon, I decided to run for this seat.
Starting out in our sugarcane fields as a young man, I learned the meaning of hard work. Working on a farm, taught me the importance of agriculture to our nation. “As a nation that can feed itself is a secure nation.” As a successful business owner who serviced the oil and gas sector, I bring real business experience. I have created jobs. Therefore I know how to grow our economy and what it takes to create and keep good paying jobs. As a business attorney, who works with small business, I understand what crushing unneeded regulations and taxes do to our small businesses.
Studying at USL, in the Department of Life Sciences, I understand the importance of our coast. How our coast is vital to the many industries and our nation who depend on it for its resources and its recreational opportunities.
As a lifetime member of the NRA and Ducks Unlimited, I believe in protecting our 2nd Amendment rights. As a Veteran and member of the Armed Forces, I took a pledge to defend my country from all threats both foreign and domestic. Those eleven years of service have only strengthened my desire to protect our troops abroad and insure that our veterans receive the care they deserve here at home. I am pro-life. I believe that life is a gift from God. I believe in traditional marriage. I believe we must empower our families, not weaken them. I believe that we must fight for parental involvement in education.
And lastly, I believe in the Constitution of the United States, as written!
2. What do you think is the most important issue in the race this year?
I believe we must grow our economy, protect our jobs while creating a business friendly environment to help create new jobs, stop wasteful Washington spending.
3. What are your thoughts on the possible loss of the district in redistricting, and how might that affect this year’s race?
My thoughts are centered on representing the people of the 3rd Congressional district, now!
I don’t understand why people worry about whether a district will be here tomorrow, when it is here today. A district that affects the things we care so much about like our nation’s future, our economic future and our coast.
Only politicians worry about whether they will have a job tomorrow, I am only worried about the things that I can affect today that impact tomorrow.
4. With your background in the energy industry, can you tell us what a Jeff Landry energy policy would look like?
Like our agriculture and fishery industries, our domestic energy industry is vital to our national security. We need to increase domestic drilling and continue the tax breaks given to our domestic producers, while encouraging nuclear electrical generation and other alternatives. We must reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
5. The federal budget is unbelievably out of balance. Can you offer a plan to bring it into line?
Thomas Jefferson once said, “That it is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debt as it goes” I support a balanced budget amendment, reforms that make it harder for a liberal Congress to raise taxes.
6. Congress’ approval ratings are through the floor at present. What would a Congressman Jeff Landry propose to restore respect and confidence to the House of Representatives?
Over the years I have learned that in order to lead, you must lead by example. I believe that Congress must reform itself, before it can reform the Country. I would like to see an end to Congressional healthcare, making each Congressman responsible for his or her own healthcare.
I would like to see an elimination of Congressional retirement, public office is supposed to be an honor.
7. If you were to win this race, you’d succeed Charlie Melancon as the 3rd District’s representative. What is your opinion of the job Melancon has done?
I would rather leave that opinion to the voters who have an opportunity to grade his performance in the upcoming Senate election. My focus is on returning our nation to the core conservative values which built a great country.
8. Obviously, coastal restoration is a major issue for the 3rd District. Can you describe for us what your agenda might be on that issue?
Investment of federal dollars in coastal restoration in Louisiana is a smart business decision for the country.
More than $7 billion dollars a year is sent to the Federal treasury from Oil and Gas royalties produced off the coast of Louisiana alone. 25% of the seafood consumed in the continental U.S. comes from Louisiana. Our coast is not only important to the Country and Louisiana; it defines our way of life here.
I will fight to ensure that Louisiana receives it’s share of the federal dollars – already sent to the Treasury from royalties – in order to help protect and improve our Coast. I will also fight to ensure that the people of South Louisiana have a say in how our coastal communities are protected, not bureaucrats in Washington.
9. Can you talk about your interactions with national GOP organizations like the NRCC to date? What kind of response have you received from them so far?
Yes, I have been to Washington D.C. twice. I have had one on one meetings with NRCC Chairman and Rep. Pete Sessions; Rep. Eric Cantor, the Majority Whip; Rep. Dr. Tom Price, the Chairman of the Republican Study Committee – the conservative caucus in the House; Rep. Lynn Westmoreland; and Rep. Patrick McHenry who leads the House Conservative Fund.
The support and encouragement I received was tremendous. They recognize that voters are looking for fresh leadership – leadership not confused about what party or issues should be supported.
They have all been extremely pleased with the progress that our campaign has made in such a short time.
10. You’ve got a primary race up first against a political veteran in the district, Hunt Downer. How do you see that race shaping up?
If Hunt Downer does decide to run, I welcome him to the race. He has been on the government payroll, since the 70‘s, he ran for Governor in 2004 and was sorely defeated by Bobby Jindal and Kathleen Blanco.
His loss in the 3rd Congressional District was astonishing – not much has changed since then except for the fact Kathleen Blanco appointed him to the current job he is retiring from.
He has inquired about being Lt. Governor or possibly running for the position.
I don’t believe the tax payers are interested in giving him a second government pension, frankly I believe that I speak for the conservative voters of the 3rd Congressional District when I say I am tired of recycling politicians. That is part of the problem we are facing in Washington.
11. It looks like the general election opponent will be Democrat Ravi Sangisetty, who like you is a first-time candidate for Congress. Any thoughts on Sangisetty as a Democrat opponent?
I am sure that Ravi is a nice young man, but his past is a bit too liberal for me!
12. It looks like immigration might be one of the major battles in Congress this year, and in all likelihood it will be a major issue in 2011. What’s your stance on that issue, and what do you think of Arizona’s controversial new law on the subject?
I think illegal immigration is just that, illegal. I support Arizona’s right to enforce its border with Mexico. I am a strong believer in the Constitution, and believe that the 10th Amendment is an important, but a trampled on Amendment to our Constitution. From what I have read so far, they are certainly within their Constitutional authority to enact laws, they feel are needed in order to protect their citizens.
13. Republicans are universally opposed to Obamacare and should a GOP majority take hold in the House there will undoubtedly be a move of some kind to do away with some or all of it. How far would you go on a potential rollback? Do you favor a de-funding of Obamacare? A full-fledged repeal? Tweaks at the edges?
I believe that there are a few parts of the Healthcare legislation that are not fatal to the system. However, a vast majority of it is. This is a bad piece of legislation; it is a job killer, not a job producer. I have visited with countless businesses owners since its passage, all of them are saying the same thing, they will either quit providing insurance to their employees, or cut their work force in order to comply. If we are not in a position in the next Congress to repeal it, then I am certainly for de-funding. There are no edges to tweak, only crumbs to keep.
14. Comment, if you would, on the Tea Party movement. How important will they be in the 3rd District race this year? Are you a Tea Party candidate? Will you actively seek endorsements from Tea Party groups?
My family and I participated in Tea Party functions last year and again this year. I believe that they represent a vast majority of conservative voters, whether those voters participate in their activities or not. I am a Republican candidate that believes in the movement. I will actively seek the endorsement of all of the voters of the 3rd Congressional District.
15. Is there a particular leader or historical figure you model yourself from as a candidate or from whom you draw inspiration?
I am a student of history. Over the years I have come to appreciate what our founding fathers; George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, etc. worked so hard to construct. Our modern statesman – Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Anthony Scalia and others – have worked hard to continue the founders’ dream.
16. How important are social issues to you as a candidate, and how do you think they’ll play out in this race?
I am 100% Pro-Life, I believe that life is a gift from God. I support traditional marriage. I think voters will need to look at who stands behind these issues firmly and who only tries to say the right thing to win a political contest.
17. One national issue which has generated a lot of local attention is the Obama administration’s proposed policy change on recreational fishing. The administration has already come down pretty hard on commercial fishing in various areas around the country. With so many of the district’s voters being fishing enthusiasts or even making their livelihood from the state’s fisheries, where do you come down on the proposed changes?
I am not an environmental alarmist. I believe that industry and the environment can coexist. We must protect both our fishing industry and our fisheries. I have never met a fisherman that was not truly a conservationist, because if he’s not, then he is not a real fisherman. Obama’s proposals are unrealistic for the formula to succeed.
18. Melancon’s race against David Vitter this year has brought to light a contrast between two leadership styles one often sees in elected representatives. Melancon bills himself as a behind-the-scenes worker whose effectiveness can be seen in bringing resources back to his constituents and making bills better, while Vitter sees himself as fighting for a legislative agenda that would improve the lives of his constituents. While the two are not mutually exclusive, which of the two would you say more accurately might categorize your style as a Congressman?
A good leader knows when to lead, when to follow and when to get out of the way. As a business owner and attorney I must work to solve problems every day in a sometime contentious environment, so far I have been successful. I can work with anyone who believes in America and its exceptionalism.
19. As a lawyer and a veteran, do you have any thoughts on the controversy surrounding the Justice department’s handling of Gitmo terrorists and the potential closure of that prison?
Yes it is a tragedy that we have an Attorney General whose law firm formally represented terrorists, pro bono. I am tired of people who care more about the rights of terrorist, then the lives of Americans serving in our Armed Services. It is undisputed that these people want to destroy my Country and murder innocent people. They are not Americans and they have no right under our Constitution.
20. Finally, the President’s financial reform package is drawing howls of opposition from Republicans. What are your thoughts on “too big to fail,” and what size role should the government have in the financial sector?
We have gone from an individual entitlement system to a corporate entitlement system. The current Administration is destroying the American dream, by saying you are either too big to fail or too small to succeed.
At the age of 25 I started a small business with a friend. With the last of our savings and a bank who believed in our ideas, we were able to employ up to 35 people at one time. I just wonder if today was yesterday if I could still succeed.
That is what is so scary; we are destroying the dreams of young entrepreneurs with this philosophy.