America is in a pissy, irascible, throw-the-bums-out, anti-incumbent kinda mood. Even, apparently, if it means unseating a longtime congressman with some serious seniority and a choice committee chair.
According to Charlie Cook over at the National Journal, there are some 22 House Republican primaries to watch this year. Rep. Ralph Hall's 4th District seat -- a staunchly Republican suburban and semi-rural district -- is one of them. The 32-year House veteran -- the oldest serving member, in fact, of either House of Congress -- was a Blue Dog Democrat until 2004. He's currently the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, where he's inveighed against EPA investigations of fracking contamination, birth control and the confiscation of astronaut souvenirs.
These days, the fickle GOP primary electorate regards the words "career politician" with as much distaste as they do "President Obama."
That's where an Upstate New York-raised race car driver comes in. His name is Lou Gigliotti, from East Tawakoni, in Rains County. He owns LG Motorsports, a company based in Wylie that builds and races Saleen Mustangs, Corvettes and Camaros. He won the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2001. He won the Silver Spectre 341 Hill Climb in Nevada last year. Now he wants to win the Republican nomination for Hall's seat.
He tried in 2010, but that, Gigliotti says, was just a test run. "When you go to the racetrack, you walk the track. You look at the corners and the potholes. Now, I'm racing. I'm in the race and I'm gonna do everything I can."
Gigliotti was kind enough to chat with Unfair Park and share his thoughts on Hall, the country, the federal government, and why he believes he can do some good in D.C.
Gigliotti on Hall's incredible longevity and the need for fresh blood: "He's well-loved, and he's been elected for something in Rockwall since 1948. He got his first elected position as a judge before I was born.
"They never intended people to stay (in the U.S. House for) 32 years. It was always supposed to be the peoples' House, and I'm the people. Politicians with no experience in business don't have a clue what effect rules and regulations have on the people."
Gigliotti on environmental regulation: Mount Pinatubo exploded and put more pollution into the atmosphere than since the beginning of mankind. We're a pimple on Mother Earth's butt."
"Now they're gonna try to tax cows for farting?! Explain to me where that makes sense. Who does that help?"
Gigliotti on his qualifications: "I went to the Lou Gigliotti School of Business. I've run my business since I got (to Texas) in 1983."
Gigliotti on government spending: "We spend $10 billion a day in the federal government. We have to borrow $4.3 billion of that, or print it. Of that $10 billion a day, $1 billion goes to pay the interest on our national debt."
"The government doesn't make a product. It doesn't add to the economy. It subtracts from the economy. You can't grow the economy by stealing from the economy."
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Gigliotti on Gigliotti campaign finance: I've sold some things. I've raised money. I will probably spend $70,000 by the time this thing is over. I sold a chunk of land and a race car trailer. It means so much to me, I'm putting my company on the line."
Gigliotti on business and government: "The thing about being in business and government ... you're interconnected. So much of what you have to do as a business guy, you have to become aware of what's going on, the taxes, Social Security, FICA withholding."
"Things are just getting out of hand. The economy's going down. Why is it going down? The government is getting too big. Are we going to sit around and hope they'll do the right thing? I figure it's time for a normal guy like me to get off the couch and do something."
"I guarantee you, I'm as smart or smarter than Ralph Hall, and I've got a lifetime of business experience. I've always told people I'd never stay more than six years. I'm giving 25 percent of my (congressional) paycheck to the volunteer fire department."