Every week, it seems, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says something that angers tens of millions of red-blooded Americans and pro-Israel supporters. One comment in particular – Omar’s characterization of the attacks on 9-11 as “some people did something” – irked Chris Kelly, a Minneapolis policeman and Iraq War veteran, so much that he decided to run against her in next year’s congressional elections.
He recently spoke to The Jewish Press about his views and chances of defeating Omar.
The Jewish Press: What do you think about Omar’s recent statements regarding Israel?
Kelly: I think there’s some kind of personal agenda. She’s on the attack, and it makes me wonder why a U.S. Congressperson would be making statements against Israel even to the point where she would be censored.
People [in our district] are wondering why she’s not doing anything in the district. She seems more focused on her social media status and her status with the press.
What do you think Omar should be doing for her constituents in Minnesota that she isn’t doing right now?
The first challenge in our area is terrorist recruitment. We know for a fact that ISIS has been targeting the young Somali population in our district. There have been people arrested and charged for conspiring to join ISIS, but Ilhan has spent more time defending them than condemning them.
Regardless of her feelings about Trump, she could have gone to his office and said, “Look, we have a problem and I would like your help combating this.”
Our district also has a problem with opioids and homelessness. Many people in our district are suffering.
The author of a recent newspaper article wrote, “[I’m] grateful that I have a brave representative who is willing to criticize not just the Israeli government but also the U.S. governmental system of which she is a part.” Do you agree with this point of view?
I think a representative’s job is to represent the needs and desires of his/her district and to assist the president of the United States in advancing the goals of the country and working to bettering and protecting her. I believe a representative can be critical of any country that has harmed or intends to harm us in any way, shape, or form.
Do you think a member of Congress should be criticizing Israel?
I have never seen Israel [try to harm] the United States and I doubt highly it ever would. Israel can and should be left to govern itself. After three deployments to the Middle East, I am acutely aware of who our solid allies are and which country’s allegiances shift like the sands in the desert.
It’s been reported that members of the Minnesota Democratic Party were dismayed by some of Omar’s anti-Semitic statements and even considered running another Democratic candidate in her place in 2020.
I have heard rumors regarding that, but I would be surprised to see a sitting U.S. representative challenged within her own party – especially one whom they believe represents the diversity of the party so strongly.
You’re currently running as an Independent. Would you consider running as a Democrat if the Democratic Party suggested the idea?
I am willing to have a discussion with anyone on any topic. However, I chose to run as an Independent because I have beliefs that encompass the platforms of both the Democratic and Republican platforms. I primarily lean conservative and make no secret about that, but I am also the son of a union pipe-fitter and I strongly believe in collective bargaining.
Additionally, I believe in a path to citizenship for DACA individuals along with a secure border and massive immigration reform. I feel that my beliefs are more centrist and in line with the majority of Minnesotans and Americans and, therefore, I cannot imagine myself running as a Democrat.
Did you consider running as a Republican?
I have previously run, unsuccessfully, as a Republican for a Minnesota state legislative race. It was an excellent learning experience. But I believe the Republican Party has abandoned its original conservative principles and, as such, I can’t be an active member of the party in good conscience.
I also don’t believe it’s possible to run as a Republican and win my district, which is a D+26 district.
If you don’t identify as a Republican, what would you consider yourself?
An independent conservative. My approach to problem-solving is based in Judeo-Christian ethics, my education, and my experiences. I am a traditionalist who appreciates science and technology. I believe in maintaining family traditions, heritage, and culture. I believe that government has no business telling people how to raise a family. I believe that sometimes welfare is necessary, but it is meant to be a “stop-gap,” not a permanent way of life.
I believe in the right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. I believe in the rule of law – first G-d’s law, then the government’s. I believe that goodness and light will always triumph over evil. I believe in respecting life from conception to natural death. I believe in honoring the dead by living the best life possible.
Why do you think people will vote for you?
Omar is kind of the gift that keeps on giving; she’s always spewing negativity. People are getting sick of it. We are going to run an aggressive social media campaign. We’ll be meeting with community and religious readers – anybody I can engage.
We have good support currently, and I believe there are many disenfranchised Democrats out there who don’t want to vote for her. I’m not looking for controversy or notoriety. I just want to be someone who, if fortunate to be elected, hits the ground running and represents my district well.