This article is most likely to be the last concerning the Jay Fant/Paul Renner race in Florida’s 15th State Representative District. However, it most certainly won’t be the last concerning the disrespect politicians have for voters, or their insistence to fashion campaigns avoiding truth, facts, and the questions that surround those principles.
The Examiner.com reached out to both candidates in this highly contentious race, with only the agreement from one of them to sit down for an interview. As documented in recent articles, The Fant Campaign is admittedly more interested in staying on message than to answer valid and sincere questions by the people of the 15th District of Florida, ( #justanswerthequestionjay ). We sat down and spoke with Cmdr. Paul Renner, (for brother Grunts that’s equal to a Lt. Colonel).
The interview is as follows:
Examiner: Commander, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk to you before the Primary wraps up Tuesday.
Paul Renner: Jim, you can call me Paul.
Examiner: OK, Paul: People in the 15th have been bombarded with ads from organizations with fictitious names. The Fant campaign appears to be rabid, yet you continue to be a gentleman towards the opposition. Why didn’t you fight back with similar vitriol and hyperbole when that’s what he gave you?
Paul Renner: I think this race really comes down to leadership and our respective records. I made a commitment to my opponent; and I believe we’ve kept it to do nothing but speak truthfully about our record, and to only impress things that are true about our opponents record, and not engage in hyperbole, or try to claim that he’s something he’s not. So I think it really comes back down to leadership. When I talk to people door to door, when I talk to people on the phone, I don’t talk about my opponent, I talk about my record. My record of leadership in the military during two wars with twenty-plus years of service, I talk about my experience as an Executive Officer of three units, and the Commanding Officer of another. I talk about my leadership among my peers as a Prosecutor, and how I finished out as the lead in a felony trial unit. But also I have broader experience. As a business attorney I dealt with many types of small businesses here in our community and understand their challenges, and I’m also a small business owner, so I’ve signed the front of the check as well as the back. I think those two things: the broader experience and more leadership under pressure is what sets our candidacy apart from our opponent. Also I think conservatives, more than ever are anxious to have true, principled leadership: that’s why I plan to be a true, principled leader in Tallahassee. I think people need to filter out the white noise and determine who has a record of accomplishment, and who can lead in a principled way in the future- and that’s what I plan to do.
Examiner: You sound like a soldier on a mission. Why did you decide to run for office?
Pau Renner: I ran for two reasons. One was political and one is personal. My parents’ are- Dad was a minister and Mom was a school teacher, so I’ve always had a love for public service and an appreciation for its importance. That led me to the Navy, and into the Prosecutors office: public service has been the passion of my life. The second, the political reason is; after coming back from Afghanistan I saw how our nation, at the national level continues to go in a decidedly wrong direction. We’ve abandoned foundational principles: conservative principles that have made us the most free and the strongest nation on Earth. If we don’t return to those principles, we’ll face the consequences. It’s just so important that we lead in the right direction. It’s not enough to elect people who campaign as conservatives, we have to elect leaders. I believe we need that now more than ever. Those are the two reasons I ran. I told everyone in 2012 that if Obama was reelected this would be the tipping point for us. When you do lose you can either quit and crawl into the fetal position and cry yourself to sleep at night, or you can go out and fight. You know, I tell people our veterans are all born without “Quit” buttons; I am too. I’m not giving up, but I’m going to do more: and “more” was running for office. That’s why I chose to run for this office.
Examiner: Incidentally, you aren’t just unemployed and need something to do, are you?
Paul Renner: No, I’m employed, this is a part-time job, I’ll keep my full time job as a business attorney.
Examiner: Many of the states problems are a result of the Administration- and the Senate Democrats running interference for them. How do you see yourself addressing these issues from Tallahassee?
Paul Renner: I think we need to stand up for the Tenth Amendment, first and foremost. I am a supporter of the efforts under Article Five of our Constitution to promote a federal balanced budget amendment. A sufficient number of states have now have proposed that amendment. There are currently efforts to send out language out to the states for ratification. This exemplifies how states can push back collectively, in this case to put the federal Government on a fiscal diet. Beyond that, under the Tenth Amendment, we need to begin examining mandates from the federal government, and whether those mandates are, or are not Constitutional. If they aren’t, we need to say so. We need to push back on those. Too often the claimed partnership between the federal government and the states looks more like a Master-Servant relationship. We need to change that.
Examiner: Do you see yourself initiating the reassertion of the Tenth Amendment from Tallahassee?
Paul Renner: As a Conservative attorney, I’ve been involved with conservative groups like the Federalist Society, which is concerned with the Constitution and the proper balance between the federal government and the states. Federal government has a role: such as National Defense, but the states have a significant role that the federal government has gobbled up, and tries to gobble up areas that don’t belong to it. Areas such as education, such as healthcare: the states should individually and collectively work towards innovative solutions that put people in control of their lives, not the federal government.
Examiner: Is that a yes?
Paul: That’s a yes.
Examiner: As a follow up on that answer: Fant supporters have accused you of supporting Obamacare. Do you support Obamacare?
Paul Renner: I don’t. It’s an over reach by the federal government, and hurts businesses in Florida and around the country.
Examiner: What can be done from Tallahassee to stop Obamacare from harming Florida’s’ recovery under Governor Scott?
Paul Renner: The first, most tangible thing the state can do with Obamacare is not implement expansion of Medicaid. I am 110% opposed to the expansion of Medicaid- which would create a massive new entitlement. The federal government said they would cover the majority of those expenses, but with the fiscal budget at the national level being what it is, I think you would see a time when states would share a greater burden to pick up that tab. At the end of the day, Medicaid is a broken system. Broken and dysfunctional systems should not be expanded; so I would be strongly opposed to Medicaid expansion. Also, I would look at other ways, in the way of implementation to stop Obamacare from taking root here in Florida. I’m hopeful the Republicans can take the leadership in the US Senate; I’m hopeful the nation will come to its senses in 2016 and elect a conservative Republican President who will be committed tothe repeal of Obamacare with something that will put patience and providers as the priority of healthcare reform, and not the federal government.
Examiner: The other candidate says he’s a small businessman- but his business left the tax payers holding the tab for $82,000,000. Has your business failed, or left the taxpayers footing the bill?
Paul Renner: No. I started my own law practice as a solo practitioner, so I’ve experienced going to the post office box hoping there was a check because if there wasn’t my assistant would get paid: but I wouldn’t. That business grew and prospered when I joined with a firm here in Jacksonville. That firm is alive, well, and growing. So no, I’ve never had a business failure.
Examiner: Our investigation into the organizations attacking you in support of your opponent seems to have a lot of sugar companies involved with it. There are several resources that show that industry has been known to use illegal aliens as laborers. That causes us to wonder. Do you support illegal immigration, or the use of illegal aliens for labor in the state of Florida?
Paul Renner: I do not. I think what’s happening in the southwest border [of the nation] is a man made crisis and the man who created that crisis is Barack Obama. His policies have been harmful. We had an immigration system that was already broken, and he’s made it worse. I do not support the use of illegal immigrants for labor here in the United States, or the state of Florida. Just so you know, I would not have supported the recent legislation that gives in-state education benefits to illegal immigrants. I understand why some Republicans got behind that legislation, but I would have voted against it.
Examiner: Finally, if you had one simple message: why should the people of the 15th District elect you to represent them in Tallahassee?
Paul Renner: One word: “Leadership”. I would say look at my record and you’ll see someone who has broad experience in the military, as a Prosecutor, as a business attorney helping small businesses throughout our community, and as a small business owner myself. That experience is broader than our opponent, but also more importantly is I have leadership under pressure skills. I’ve been I two wars, and served as a Prosecutor. I’ve been in a lot of tough situations, and as the record demonstrates; I’m someone that you can count on. I’m a life-long conservative that’s been working for conservative causes going back as far as Ronald Reagan when I was a young 12-13 year old. I’ve been doing so ever sense. I’ve been involved with and chaired the Federalist Society, I’ve been involved with several election cycles as a Republican attorney helping all our Republican candidates on election day, making sure there was no fraud at the polls, being engaged in election laws. So to come back to a very simple response: the answer is “Leadership”. If people will closely examine the two candidates in an honest and diligent way, them I’m comfortable we’re going to win on Tuesday.
Examiner: Thank you Cmdr Renner
The Examiner reached out to the other candidate in this race for comment or interview, but at the time of this posting, no inquiries have been responded or acknowledged.
After weeks of accusing Cmdr Renner of being against conservative principles, and for the President’s agenda, the evidence suggests that the assertions are more in the vein of smear tactics against Cmdr. Renner, if not simply a political tactic to avoid answering valid and reasonable questionable concerning business experience. Cmdr. Renner passes the smell test and is found to be a true conservative, but just as importantly: and honorable man who is committed to conservative principles.