If you want to know more about Sidney native Warren Davidson’s desire to run for John Boehner’s congressional seat, consider…he’s a former high school wrestler, army ranger, and West Point cadet. Now who’s more competitive, and driven, than that?
Right on cue Warren Davidson popped in the door Monday for his scheduled interview. You would expect an army man, a West Point grad, to be punctual…on time.
He’s out pressing the flesh these days, knocking on doors, and generally letting people know that although he won the Republican primary back in the winter to be the nominee for John Boehner’s vacated 8 congressional district seat in Congress, there is a special election on June 7 and he must win that to finish out the last four month’s of Boehner’s term. Then, he faces the challenge of running again in November against the Democratic candidate for what would be his first full term in Congress.
It’s a big undertaking…three elections to win in the span of 12 calendar months.
It’s a huge commitment in time, resources, and obligation away from his small parts business on the west side of Troy. Why would anyone, in this political climate of Trump, Hillary, and general voter disgust with the political process and its operatives, want the job?
“I’ve always been driven to do the things that I wanted to do,” said Davidson while cracking open a Diet Coke. “I wrestled at Sidney High school, but I was never a talented at it. I wrestled three years on JV and maybe made a couple of varsity matches. When I graduated I wanted to join the service and become an army ranger, and when I was through there I wanted to attend West Point. Those were formative times for me and that’s followed me through life. I’ve always made it a point to know the answer to something, not hope for the best, or guess, because there’s so much available information out there if you want to take the time to access it. I’ve done that in the army, at West Point, and now in business. It’s the same principle of making the extra effort that Coach McCraken taught me at Sidney High School.”
But why Congress, and why now, given the general attitude of the voting public over business as usual, career politicians, gridlock in Washington, and lack of respect for elected office? If you press him, Warren Davidson cites the three formative steps in his life to become successful in business, as a husband and father, and a respected community member, as his motivation. That, and common sense!
“First, I’m a citizen like everyone else who gets tired of hearing stuff like ‘you have to pass the bill to know what’s in the bill’. No you don’t. I’m tired of arguments like that and others are, too. You get tired of people who say they believe all the science regarding climate change as the greatest threat to America, but ignore basic addition and subtraction in regards to the facts of how to balance the budget. You can have a general debate about the things we fund and don’t fund, but at some point you have to come back to the facts about balancing the budget, or about national security. It seems to me that if you have to consider those facts to live within a budget back home, then we should be more committed in Washington to run the country that way.
“That’s what Trump’s saying from his experience in business, and it resonates with voters who recognize his message and equate it to their own circumstances. Congress has to be more accountable because regular people can’t live like that. You can’t pretend that your budget’s balanced. If you do you’re going to wreck your credit rating or go bankrupt. You can’t ignore problems and not have them threaten your home.”
When his predecessor, Boehner, first ran for Congress in the early 90s he was fond of saying he would be content to be a one-term business man from Westchester with an agenda to remind Washington of the priorities of the people back home. Twelve terms later John Boehner had taken on a very different persona, as a power broker in the party and eventually Speaker of The House. Davidson’s explanation as to why was sensible, owing to the issue that many see as the problem with Washington.
“At some point in the process I think people go there to do the right thing and simply stay too long,” he says. “What they become is Washington D.C.’s messenger to the folks back home. But the way it was designed to be is that they would be the voice of the people back home and their messenger to Washington. I joke about it being too many days of wearing suits and cuff links and not enough days wearing jeans and T-shirts.
“I can’t speak to whatever transformation happened to Boehner as I was on active duty during the time he was first elected to Congress. He was my congressman for most of my adult life. But in the early days people viewed him as a guy who got some things done and broke a couple of scandals, and I think people wanted him to stay there and continue. Somewhere along the way he developed enough influence with his colleagues that they wanted him to stay in a leadership position. That’s the trade-off with the job. I like the idea of term limits, but you also have to respect the amount of time it takes to become a leader. The thing about term limits is it puts everyone on notice that they’d better show leadership qualities soon or they’re not going to be there.”
Warren Davidson seems to get it, riding the wave of sentiment created by Donald Trump for outsiders to come to the capital and govern with a common sense approach to budgets, borders, taxes, entitlements, and homeland security. As a small businessman he’s in a unique position of understanding how to create jobs and profit, and why we haven’t created more of it in the past eight years.
“First of all, wouldn’t it be nice to have a two-page tax code that everyone can understand,” he admits. “If you have to pay a percentage at the end of the year wouldn’t it be nice to look at the page and know what you have to pay. The real problem is that no one ever wants to tackle the real problems, the gorilla in the room. The rate of growth of the national debt. That’s killing the ability of people to save. And we have to get a handle on entitlement reforms.
“When Barack Obama was elected he coined the phrase that elections have consequences. What he was saying was, ‘I won so we’re going to do it my way.’ But then we voted Republicans to have control of the House and we wanted to hear someone in the House, John Boehner as Speaker say, ‘Yes Mr. President, elections do have consequences. We’ve got control of the House and the House runs the budget.’
“And while they did push down spending some, it wasn’t enough to offset the deficit growing massively. What I’m saying is we could be doing so much more to put a reasonable step forward on any number of issues. And for the life of me I don’t know why it has to be a divisive matter to hold the IRS commissioner accountable for shredding evidence and defrauding citizens. People have to have to be accountable for stuff like that.”
He’s open, eloquent, and gives every impression that he’s willing to listen and act upon the priorities of his constituency. Whatever shred of commitment and hard work that Coach McCracken instilled in Warren Davidson as a junior varsity wrestler forty years ago appears to have stuck. They say wrestling, by the way, is the hardest six minutes in sports, and if you couple that with being an army ranger, and the requirements of West Point, it’s no wonder he’s undaunted by the challenge of replacing John Boehner.
He cites the economy, a subject near and dear to all. He understands that health care in America accounts for 20% of the GDP (gross domestic product), which is no production of real goods and services at all…and that there’s no incentive within the health care industry to be competitive and drive down prices. He understands the political climate as a climate for sensible change in the country.
“What you’re hearing is the perfect contrast to what we’ve had,” says Davidson. “It’s the reason why Trump’s doing so well. He talks about issues that people know are out of control and he does it in language that people understand. He’s changed his position over time on some of the issues and people understand that. He talks about winning, and he has won. He’s done what he set out to do, and that’s what people are looking for now in a leader.
“My desire to go to Congress is the same as it was when I joined the army. My goal is to serve through a different kind of ‘active’ duty.”
Pausing, he smiled at the irony of it.
“It certainly pays better than the army, but there’s a lot more responsibility than a captain has. And maybe we shouldn’t stay long enough to draw a pension.”
From the man who would be a Congressman!