Fawell’s party label has changed, but Libertarian views have not
STERLING – Republican Bill Fawell has no prior experience in public office, but he sees that as a plus in his run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, in the 17th District.
“I think it’s a major advantage, because I’m not tainted and compromised by Washington, D.C.,” Fawell told the Sauk Valley Media editorial board Tuesday. “I’m running because I think our country is in a very dangerous place now.”
Concern about the direction in which the country is headed, however, could be a headwind for Republicans. Midterm elections historically serve as a referendum on the president. Many pundits predict that Democrats are likely to gain the 23 seats needed to take back a majority in the House.
After running unopposed in the March primary, Fawell, 64, of Galena, will face Bustos in the November general election. Mark Kleine, a Galesburg businessman, dropped out of the Republican primary in January.
Fawell ran for the 17th District seat in 2014 as a Libertarian, but he returned to the Republican fold, citing the difficulties of running as a third-party candidate. The former real estate broker wound up with 16 votes in 2014, as Bustos took nearly 56 percent of the vote in defeating Republican Bobby Schilling a second time.
Fawell compares his political views to those of Ron Paul, the former Texas congressman who ran for president once as a Libertarian, and twice as a GOP candidate. A staunch supporter of term limits, Fawell also has his sights set on two bills he says would go a long way in “giving government back to the people” if enacted.
One of those bills is the Regulation from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, which supporters believe is an important piece of regulatory reform. The REINS Act would require Congress to approve new major regulations and review those already in place.
“Federal agencies and lobbyists are writing laws for billionaires,” Fawell said. “We need to transfer the powers of federal agencies to the states.”
While the thought of giving more power to a state that has struggled mightily to produce an annual budget might frighten some Illinoisans, Fawell is confident that the decentralization of government will restore a true participatory model.
“When more duties are given to the states, people will take more interest when government is closer to them,” Fawell said. “Once we break up the monopoly of power in federal government, more money and services will come to rural areas.”
The second piece of legislation on Fawell’s radar is the Federal Transparency Act. That bill would require the Government Accountability Office to complete audits of the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve banks within a year.
Fawell cited the Affordable Care Act as a prime example of “instant reforms” produced largely by agencies. He wants to see the legislation either fixed or abandoned.
“I’d vote to get rid of it if there’s a good replacement, but if there isn’t, I’d stay with Obamacare for 2 years, take it apart and fix it,” Fawell said.
Fawell is critical of the nation’s military involvements around the world and the way veterans are treated when they come home.
“We should leave Afghanistan because we had no entrance or exit strategies,” Fawell said. “They are put through the meat grinder, come home with serious problems, and then we don’t take care of them.”
Fawell was hesitant to express full support of the president’s trade policies, but said he believes tariffs can fix a dangerous trade imbalance and are worth any short-term pain that is caused.
Although Fawell is running as a Republican, he has done it without party support. Any backing he still had dried up in August. Many state party leaders officially disassociated itself from Fawell, citing social media posts and reports in which the candidate appears to support 9/11 conspiracy theories and called the Newton, Connecticut school shootings a possible “false flag” event.
The Whiteside County Republicans said local party leaders had tried to provide guidance on Fawell’s campaign, but he was not receptive to input.
“Mr. Fawell seems to wish to run his campaign his way and not heed the advice of some of the area chairmen within the 17th Congressional District. We cannot be supportive or recognize a candidate that makes no attempt at refuting these claims after these horrific events shook our nation,” Kurt Glazier, chairman of the Whiteside County Republican Central Committee, said in a written statement.
Glazier said Fawell would not be mentioned in advertising or sample ballots to be printed in newspapers that were paid for by the party. He also was banned from the local organization’s meetings and events.
Fawell said neither Washington nor Springfield want to see him there, so he is used to being the lone wolf. His campaign has been focused on traveling to meet as many people as possible and connecting with voters through social media.