Jason Church has never held public office, and he says that’s a positive as he runs in Wisconsin’s Seventh Congressional District.
Church is seeking the Republican nomination in the special election to replace Republican Sean Duffy of Wausau, who resigned last September. Church’s primary opponent is state Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, who has served in the state Legislature since 2010.
Church said a political outsider should fill the seat.
“I don’t want to make a career of public service,” said Church, who pledged to serve no more than eight years. “There needs to be a new generation from outside of politics. The founders never intended for this to be a full-time job.”
Church, 30, is a native of Menomonie and graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he was an ROTC cadet and played fullback for four seasons on the football team.
After graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In August 2012, he sustained injuries in an IED blast and had both his legs amputated below the knee. He was discharged with the rank of captain in 2014. He most recently worked as an outreach staffer for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
Church described himself as a supporter of president Donald Trump. He said the president is making “tough decisions” on immigration reform, including construction of a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“There is a need for a wall, and we need to build it,” he said.
He also said immigration procedures need to change.
“Immigration and naturalization are flawed, and they incentivize a lot of the illegal immigration that’s occurring,” Church said.
He said streamlining immigration procedures would also make the process better for legal immigrants.
Church criticized the federal deficit and said “we’re basically taxing our unborn grandchildren at this point.” He said reforms will eventually need to be made to the biggest programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He said the latter two programs lack accountability and incentives to control costs.
“We don’t want to have anybody lose care under Medicare or Medicaid,” Church said. “We need to create systems that increase the efficiency of those systems.”
He said any changes to Social Security should look toward the long term.
“The people who paid into that, that’s their money,” Church said. “We need to make sure that system is solvent, and I think we need to look at things for younger generations that are living longer and change some of these rules that were made decades ago.”
He criticized House Democrats under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi. He said the USMCA trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, which was supported by farm groups and recently signed by Trump, could have been passed a year earlier had Pelosi decided to move the legislation. He also criticized the Green New Deal. He said the proposal to address climate change would impose economic hardship on rural areas.
Church is running in a district that backed Trump by 21 percentage points in the 2016 election. He said part of Trump’s appeal is that he isn’t “politically correct. People are tired of politicians lying to them.”
Church said his personal style differs from Trump’s.
“He certainly talks like a New Yorker, and I’m from northern Wisconsin,” Church said. “I think the way he approaches things is different from the way I would approach them ... I think at the end of the day, whether you like him or not, the president is direct.”
Church acknowledged that people in his age group are the least likely to support the president. He said a robust economy can make young people change their minds.
“We have to show the things President Trump has done to invigorate the economy,” he said.
The primary election is Feb. 18. The general election is May 12.
The Seventh Congressional District includes the towns of LaGrange, Lincoln, Scott and Byron and villages of Wyeville and Warrens in Monroe County and the towns of Knapp, Bear Bluff and City Point in Jackson County.
Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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