Editor’s note: Stories on each of the five Republican candidates for the U.S. House are continuing today.
HELENA — U.S. House candidate Drew Turiano says he is his own man and not an establishment Republican.
“There are no strings attached to me,” the Helena real estate investor said. “The special interests aren’t going to control me or manipulate me. I will do only what’s in the best interests of the people of Montana and the people of my country.”
He is one of five House candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., who is running for a seat in the Senate this year.
Turiano, 40, has run a low-key campaign, raising and spending little money, but has drawn controversy.
He received sharp criticism for his proposed “Operation Wetback,” a plan to round up and deport all illegal immigrants and their American-born children.
The Yellowstone County Republican Party refused to allow Turiano to speak at its Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner on March. Its chairwoman said the party had no intention of “allowing him a platform to spread hate and intolerance.”
Turiano also was not invited to participate in a Republican House candidate debate in Bozeman sponsored last month by the Montana State University College Republicans.
Although Turiano has called himself a Tea Party Republican, the Montana Tea Party Coalition has denied any affiliation with him.
Turiano said he differs most from his Republican opponents on the issue of immigration.
“I believe in a moratorium on all immigration to America,” he said. “The reason I believe in that, it will be the end of conservatism in this country. The majority of immigrants who come to America are big government people. They’re going to mostly support the party of big government, the Democrat Party. They will not support the party of small government, the Republican Party.
“Because this is a fact of life, it will mean that the Republican Party will never win another national election again in about 10-15 years time. … I’m hoping that we can do something to immigration and put a stop to it, so the Republican Party doesn’t go the way of the Whigs.”
Turiano said it’s silly of some of his opponents to talk about issues like the federal deficit and debt, which are important issues, when they don’t want to talk about the consequences of immigration policy.
“If you don’t have a moratorium right now, you’re going to have the Democrats in the next 10-15 years ago take over, and it doesn’t matter what we do now as Republicans with the debt and deficit. It will just explode greater than it is right now.”
On another issue, Turiano said he is “100 percent pro-life.”
Turiano said he believes in the doctrine of nullification under which states can nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in some instances. He also would like to see states nullify the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.
He called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and to go back to the former health care system. He called for making health insurance portable across state lines, promoting tax-free medical savings accounts and enacting tort reform to limit liability in lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.
Turiano supports revising the federal tax code to enact a flat tax.
If elected, the candidate said he would make a lot of major spending cuts to the budget, even beyond those in the budget proposed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“We’re very close to becoming like Greece,” he said. “It isn’t just that have a $17 trillion debt. It is estimated we have about a $100 trillion deficit vis-a-vis unfunded liabilities with Medicare and Social Security, so both of those programs are going to go bankrupt shortly.”
He called for trying to privatize Social Security for younger people, while still providing the guaranteed benefits to older Americans. Medicare ought to be privatized too, he said. The nation needs to try something new for both entitlement programs, he said.
Here’s where Turiano stands on some other major issues:
Keystone XL Pipeline: He supports the construction of the pipeline as a safer means to transport oil and as a project that will create jobs.
Campaign finance: Turiano said he supports the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that prohibits the government from restricting independent spending by corporations and unions. “The only thing I’m against is dark money,” Turiano said, adding that he supports transparency and disclosure.
Minimum wage: He is against the Obama administration’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.25. Turiano said studies show that a lot of workers would be fired from jobs if the minimum wage is raised to that level.
Congressional improvements: “Congress is seen as corrupt,” he said. “In a lot of cases, it is that. I’ll try to be as ethical as I possibly can.”
Coming Saturday: A look at Ryan Zinke, another Republican running for the U.S. House.