Stafford County resident Tony DeTora is one of four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Virginia. On Saturday, June 7, the state GOP convention in Roanoke will select a candidate to challenge incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D-Alexandria) from a list of competitors that also includes Ed Gillespie, Shak Hill, and Chuck Moss.
DeTora spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner last month on the sidelines of the Fifth District Republican Convention at Hampden-Sydney College near Farmville. The interview began with a look at Warner's vulnerabilities as he runs for re-election in November.
“If you look at the perception of Governor Mark Warner,” DeTora said, “and you compare that to the record of Senator Mark Warner, they're two different people.”
That, he said, is “a huge vulnerability.”
'Not the right guy'
Republicans “need to point that out as we approach November [because] that opens the door for us to get in there [as] some people still really, personally like him. They need to be convinced that maybe he's not the right guy for us in Washington.”
DeTora explained that in his “day job,” he is a senior policy analyst on the staff of Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California). Rohrabacher recently submitted a successful amendment to an appropriations bill that would have the effect of prohibiting the federal government from interfering with medical marijuana providers in states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Since DeTora works for Rohrabacher, what does he think of efforts to reform marijuana laws?
“I don't think we should be restricting people's freedom,” he said, “without a clear constitutional reason to do so, so I'm supportive of the things he's trying to do.”
Working the system
DeTora's experience on Capitol Hill is one of the key assets he claims to bring with him into the Senate race.
“I also understand the politics and the games and how that works,” he asserted. “I understand how to work the system as well. I'm the only candidate in the race who understands all of that, has all that experience, and wants to go to Washington not to play the games better but to undo them.”
The first-time candidate also believes he can appeal to libertarian voters in the general election.
“Libertarians are going to absolutely be interested in my message. Most of this campaign is going to be about economics because the state of the economy is in a shambles. Obamacare is hurting that. Pushes for increases in the minimum wage is hurting that. All of these things are just compounding so my fiscally conservative message will resonate with libertarians,” he said.
Noting that Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis will be running for the U.S. Senate this year, DeTora said that while Libertarians are “interested in getting the Libertarian Party a permanent spot on the ballot, they also don't want to send Mark Warner back to Washington to represent Virginia, so we can appeal to them that way.”
Taking the long view, DeTora explained he got into the Senate race for the sake of his two-year-old daughter.
“I'm concerned about her future,” he concluded. “We want to male sure that we secure the blessings of liberty not only for ourselves but for our posterity, as they write in the founding documents. I'm concerned that as we approach her future, that America won't be the great nation it still is.”
A podcast of this interview with Tony DeTora can be heard on Bearing Drift's "The Score."