(Nancy Dallas) – Craig Lake is running for Nevada’s 1st Congressional District seat currently held by Democrat Rep. Shelly Berkley. You can learn more about Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Please write a brief summary of your professional and political history. Define your political philosophy.
I started my first corporation at age 16, and by 19, I started my own lighting sales agency that I currently own and operate. I built that company from a business that I ran out of my home to an office that currently supports 17 other Nevadans. As part of the construction industry, my company has been able to provide some of the best stability in one of the toughest industries and markets in the country. I have paid 100% of my employee’s personal healthcare insurance for over three and a half years. They pay for their families, but I pay for all of their individual premiums.
Politically, I have always been interested in and studied our political system, but my activity was limited. I discussed politics with many people, and volunteered my time walking neighborhoods and placing signs during the 2004 election. I have never been a fan of Shelley Berkley’s voting record, and when I continued to see her vote for legislation that I felt was damaging to Nevada, our country, and the future of my business and family, I decided that I needed to get more involved. I knew if I was going to have a shot at defeating her, I would need to start early, so we starting campaigning and putting our team together in August of ’09 and we had filed with the FEC and were full speed ahead by September of ’09.
I believe in our Constitution and founding documents, smaller government, reduced spending and taxes, and personal freedoms; which I believe are all core beliefs of conservatives.
• Why are you running for a political office? Do you have a campaign team in place? Will you be using your own money to fund your campaign? If so, to what degree?
I am running for political office because our federal government has become an uncontrollable monster that is consuming our society, strangling our businesses and our economy, and taking away our rights and freedoms. I am running to be a part of the process in restoring respect for our Constitutional principles and founding documents, and returning our country and District 1 to the People.
We have an amazing campaign team in place including a general consultant, political director, communications director, and an amazing group of grassroots volunteers, some of which have been out volunteering since September.
I have been using a lot of my own money to fund this campaign, but we have also had a large amount of grassroots donations that do not get reported individually in our FEC filings. We have received many of these at local and grassroots events like San Gennaro, First Friday, and Tea Party events, and/or grassroots rallies or gatherings.
• Your opponent, Michele Fiore, entered the CD-1 race just prior to the filing deadline and received the Rule 11 letter indicating endorsement from the three members of the NvRNC, marking her as their preferred Republican candidate in this race. Was this a serious setback to your campaign? How do you answer to those who ask why you did not receive this endorsement?
The Rule 11 letter that was issued was actually a blessing to our campaign. It gave us the opportunity to stand up to the party and the recently resigned chairman, and show people I was not in this race to get my name out there. I feel we showed I will not participate in the same back room deals that plague our political system and that our campaign is running this race for the right reasons. The support we have received since has been humbling.
We were never considered for the Rule 11 letter. Former Governor Bob List said in the Las Vegas Review-Journal the day after the story broke that one of the main reasons for this decision was to remove my opponent from the SD9 race she was in, to clear the way for Senator Nolan. If one were to look at this logically – because no one has been forthcoming about who approached who about this move, or transparent about how it all when down, all we can do is look at this illogical move logically – I would guess my opponent was asking for the Rule 11 to switch races and for someone to approach me about moving races, and Governor List was all too happy to put the pieces in place to move her out of SD9.
• How do you respond to those who assert you do not have the political experience and/or credentials to be running for the CD-1 seat?
We have many politicians in Washington who have too much experience. They have experience in shredding our constitution, they have experience in ignoring the will of the People, and they have experience in making sure their friends enjoy success financially.
When our country was founded the House of Representatives was formed to be one of the purest forms of representation in our republic. It was intended for citizens to leave their farms in the field, go out and represent the People for a few years, and return to their lives. Our country has gotten away from that, and we have suffered for it. Our representative form of government is supposed to be representative of the People, which means we should have younger candidates, and we should have small business owners, and we should have common sense people in Washington.
I would also argue, that I have an inordinate amount of experience as a small business owner balancing a budget and managing people. I would argue that my experience lends itself better to government than many of the people we have in there currently. I would also point out that from my first day as a representative, I would have more executive experience than our current President did when he was inaugurated.
• You have seven (7) opponents in the Republican Primary. Why do you feel you are the best candidate and, considering the demographics of CD-1, that you have a realistic chance of defeating Shelley Berkley?
I am the best representative, because my experiences in the District are those of the people who live there. I have gone to both private and public schools in the District. I have grown up in the culturally diverse atmosphere that we currently see in the District. I have lived most of my life in the District, worked in the District, played in its parks my whole life, and bled in its hospitals. My life and our campaign is not only the story of the American dream come to life, but it is the story of this District. Who better to represent the people who live there?
As far as the demographics go, the first thing you look at as a candidate is the numbers, and between Independents and Republicans, the numbers are closer than they appear. There are a lot of voting blocs Democrats count on and Republicans have trouble with. I think a candidate like me, a young, small business owner who grew up in the District, who does not fit into the typical Republican demographic, can successfully reach out to those voters. We are going to go after those voters, ride the voice of the People who are upset with the politics as usual, and send a message that this is not Berkley’s seat; it belongs to the People…and the People want it back.
• What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing residents within this Congressional district? How do you intend addressing these issues?
The economy is the most important issue by far, and when we go door to door that is what the People want to talk about. I believe we need to extend the tax cuts from 2006 which are set to expire this year, permanently repeal the death tax, make it easier to write off capital losses and freeze any increases in capital gains taxes. I believe we need to look at other creative ways to jumpstart our economy like reducing payroll taxes and cutting Federal spending significantly so we can look at additional tax cuts for hard working Americans. It is the American people who will rebuild this economy, not the Federal government. We need our financial resources in the hands of the people and the businesses that will drive our recovery most efficiently.
• Should individuals be allowed to contribute unlimited amounts of money to Federal candidates? Would you support a law requiring immediate disclosure of large contributions via the internet?
Yes and yes. The government has no right to dictate what the People spend their money on or restrict free speech, but timely disclosure is essential. The People deserve to know about significant contributions before they vote, not to have them buried in an FEC report filed months after the election.
• Our national debt is growing at an astronomical rate (to $1.4 trillion this past year). Do you support a ‘balanced budget’ amendment to the Constitution? If so, specify your plan to create an annual balanced budget.
I support a balanced budget amendment or bill, and I support actually balancing the budget even more. It should be obvious to Congress that you balance the budget by spending less than you take in, but too many do not seem to understand that very simple point.
We have to drastically reduce entitlements, government waste, and Federal programs. We need a HATCHET, not a scalpel.
The government needs to track and report all of its expenditures just like it expects private businesses to do, so we can see where they are spending their money and find the waste. In light of the many inaccuracies in the Recovery.gov website that was supposed to do just that, it is best that more money stays in the hands of the People – and when needed, local and state governments – who can be relied on to manage it better.
• Do you support the current U.S. military rules of engagement in Afghanistan? Explain.
Yes, America cannot sit back and allow groups or known terrorist organizations to plan attacks against us. We must work to prevent these groups from training and plotting the attacks in the first place. This is at the central core of our mission in Afghanistan, and thus I support it. We must provide our military leaders with the support they need and stop gambling in Washington with our young men and women’s lives on the battlefield. When our military leaders request more troops and imply that it is critical, it should not take months of deliberation to come to a decision.
• Nevada’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation. What, if any, steps should be taken by the Federal government to specifically address the state’s unemployment concerns?
See my detailed response on the economy above. I also believe we need to repeal and replace the healthcare bill that was just passed before it leads to more layoffs and cripples new businesses. We also need to look at freezing the spending, and repealing the rest of the “Stimulus” bill. As of 3rd quarter ’09 we were spending over 2 million dollars per allegedly “created” job in District 1. That misuse of tax dollars is unacceptable. We need to leave our tax money in the state to begin with, instead of funneling it through Washington. States have varied needs, based on their own economics and industries, so no Federal solution is going to be effectively tailored to our unique Nevada issues.
• What would be your priorities in resolving the concerns related to the increasing dependency of the United States on foreign oil? What measures would you propose at the Federal level to help alleviate Nevada’s high energy costs? Do you support nuclear energy? How do you propose we resolve the dilemma of dealing with nuclear waste?
We need to explore all forms of energy including drilling offshore for oil, taking advantage of our natural gas resources, continuing to use coal as a resource while working to improve its environmental efficiency, continuing to develop our geothermal resources, continuing to develop our wind and solar energies, and using nuclear power as well. Any of these resources by itself is not the answer. We need all of these energy sources, and we need them now. Trying to pick and choose is holding back economic recovery.
The Cap and Trade bill Shelley Berkley voted for helped lead to the cancellation of a 5 billion dollar coal plant in Ely. Our economy needed that project, and Shelley Berkley, Dina Titus, and Harry Reid helped kill that project.
I think Yucca Mountain would be a great site for a world-class nuclear research and development facility. Many politicians and constituents have talked about something like this, including opponents in my race. Where my position is unique from anything I have heard so far from my opponents, is I believe we need to find a way for recycling/reprocessing of the nuclear waste to be done onsite where our reactors are located. I have heard that this may be too expensive, but I believe the technology can be developed, and that eliminates many of the national security, logistical, and transportation concerns involved, which I think make having only one reprocessing site inefficient and potentially unsafe. I think making Yucca Mountain a world-class research and development facility is exciting and could provide a huge benefit to our level of education in Nevada and help reinvent our state economy.
I am committed to continuing my own independent research on this subject, meeting with experts, and helping be a part of this solution for Nevada.
• Is there a Federal department/cabinet position you would support eliminating? Explain.
Yes, of course, we have seen our government grow leaps and bounds in the 16 short months that the Obama Administration has been in office. Wasteful government spending is going through the roof and many new positions are being created without the oversight of Congress. We need “checks and balances” in our government. I would propose that any Czar appointed would need to be confirmed by Congress. I would also suggest we look at removing the Department of Education and work to return education back to the States, and thus back the communities who best understand how to educate our children.
• Should the Federal government be involved in the regulation of our nation’s public school education system? If so, to what degree? Are you satisfied with the “No Child Left Behind” law? Explain.
The Federal government should not be in the business of education. Education and all associated tax dollars should be returned to the states. We need to look at eliminating the Dept. of Education or at minimum drastically reducing its size and role.
“No Child Left Behind” has been a clear failure in terms of education and in terms of fiscal policy. It was littered with unfunded mandates, it proved spending more money on education does not solve the problem, and it distorted the job of our teachers in our schools. Our education system and the tax dollars involved should stay as close to the school and its local community as possible.
We also need to post educational expenditures out in the open for everyone to see. Barbara Altman, candidate for school board District F has been a big proponent and leader in asking for this, and I think it is a great idea whose time has come.
• The inclusion of apparently wasteful, foolish “pork” and “earmarks” in Federal legislation is a historical practice – the public and many elected officials decry this practice, but with no one wanting to left off the gravy train, it seems impossible to curtail. As a U.S. Congressman, what will you do in regards to this issue?
I would support a bill or amendment that would allow parts of a bill to be pulled out line by line by Congress, similar to what we can do in our state legislature. This is something Sharron Angle has talked to me about, and I think it would go a long way to reducing the “pork” and “earmarks” we seen in Washington.
Additionally, I think we should look at an amendment that would allow a President to veto by line item on bills, similar to what our state constitution allows. This would ensure that when a future President promises no more “pork” or “earmarks”, they can be held accountable.
• Should the United States support Israel in their efforts to protect their nation’s security and safety of its citizens?
Yes. Israel is one of our best allies. Obviously, this is at risk with our current administration and the leaders we have representing us in Washington.
• How would you propose to reform the Social Security program?
I think we need to give younger constituents the opportunity to forgo money they have spent into the system and opt out. I am willing to let the government keep what they have taken from me just to escape another failed entitlement and federal control in my life. I know many Americans under 40 feel the same way. At minimum, we need to take another look at the fabled lockbox.
Whatever is left of the system, we need to look at reducing and scaling back. People who have reached retirement age should be protected, but for the remaining people, we need to look at means testing, reducing benefits, increasing the retirement age, etc.
• Is there an issue I failed to address that you would like to comment on? Go for it…..
This election is not about me. This election is about people coming together to take back our government. Please volunteer, donate, and help us return our government to the People. We need your help and we need your support. Please go to https://www.craiglakeforcongress.com/ for more info on our campaign and how you can get involved. Finally, if you live in District 1, I need your vote in the primary and in the general election. I promise to work hard for our District, our state, and our country.