With GOP sights set on reclaiming the House of Representatives in 2020, hard-line conservative candidates in key districts across the nation are testing the political waters in an effort check progressive and establishment Republican agendas on Capitol Hill.
Nolan Reidhead, a Republican primary candidate for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, is one such candidate.
Branding himself the “conservative choice for Congress,” Reidhead told The Western Journal in a Thursday interview that the broad government growth and elevated cultural tensions of recent years and decades have exposed a breach in America’s representative class — and the need for a return to values-based, local-first leadership.
“We’re seeing it now. We’re seeing a breakdown of of the constitutional values and rights that we have,” Reidhead said. “When in our nation’s history have you had the opportunity to go out and get an abortion, yet you’re not able to go to church? When are you not able to go out and purchase a firearm, exercise your Second Amendment rights, yet you’re able to go buy pot on the street?”
“We’re seeing our right to assemble being attacked. We’re seeing our right to exercise our freedom of religion being attacked.”
“Those principles — principles of free enterprise economy, principles of limited government — those are the principles that we’ve seen through the Reagan era, we’re seeing through the Trump administration. So that, to me, is conservatism and freedom: having the ability to make decisions based on our own conscience, based on our own rights,” he added.
“And that’s what I see as a true conservative. Not just going to Washington to be a part of the establishment, be a part of the swamp, if you will. But it’s taking the values of your roots and taking them to Washington to integrate proper legislation.”
A native Arizonan, Reidhead was born in Payson and spent his early years in the district, moving east with his family.
He would go on to learn the values of “hard work, personal responsibility and integrity” during an adolescence spent rising in the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America and laboring in the northern Arizona logging industry alongside his father, according to a bio released by his campaign.
These values, as well as a firm respect for the constitutional foundations of the United States, were cultivated further over the course of a legal education from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, eventually allowing Reidhead to open his own practice in Tucson.
Campaigning in a district that extends from metropolitan Phoenix to the tribal lands and rural industrial centers of the state’s northern and eastern sectors, Reidhead should benefit from this diverse resume — an edge he will need to capitalize on should he manage to secure the nomination.
Incumbent Rep. Tom O’Halleran, who was elected in 2016, took office in the midst of a now-8-year Democratic streak for the district, which has a history of frequent partisan transitions.
A former Republican and currently a co-chair of the “fiscally responsible” Blue Dog Democrat Coalition, O’Halleran won re-election over Republican nominee Wendy Rogers by more than 7 percentage points in the 2018 midterm elections.
The Lugar Center’s 2019 congressional bipartisanship report ranked the representative at No. 21 in terms of his willingness to reach across the aisle.
According to Reidhead, however, O’Halleran “has a voting record” — one that stands to paint the representative in a far more radical light than he may like.
“In previous elections, Tom O’Halleran has run more as a moderate,” Reidhead told The Western Journal.
“And so a lot of independents in Arizona — independents play a huge role in [congressional district 1]. And so they see him as an independent. They seen him as a person who would, I guess, work across the aisle.”
“The problem is for Mr. O’Halleran, he has a voting record, and he voted to impeach our president. He’s voted against the [Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act]. He’s voted against these free enterprise economic principles. He’s voting against some of the principles that the president is trying to get out there,” Reidhead added.
But sending just any Republican to the Hill in O’Halleran’s place was not going to cut it in 2020, the candidate said.
Reidhead said fellow Republican primary candidate Tiffany Shedd, who garnered just 19 percent support in the 2018 Republican primary for the seat, is not dissimilar to those establishment Republican representatives in the 115th Congress who squandered opportunities to see the Trump agenda accomplished following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, instead dragging their feet on failed health care legislation and tax cuts that only just skated by.
“There’s a huge contrast,” Reidhead said.
“On one side you have my opponent, who is an establishment candidate in the likes of your John McCain’s, your Mitt Romney’s, your Jeff Flake’s — the establishment side — and is going to go to Washington in that vein.”
Avoiding the company of such establishment figures, Reidhead claimed he will be joining the House Freedom Caucus if elected.
Made up of roughly 30 members, the Freedom Caucus is a coalition of constitutionalist and libertarian-leaning representatives. It is headed up by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and has a rocky reputation among more moderate members of the party.
“We need better leadership. We need leadership that’s going to stand up — and you see it throughout the country: Good leaders stand up. They stand for their principles. They don’t waffle based on the winds of change,” Reidhead said.
“The Freedom Caucus individuals stood up for President Trump during the impeachment process.”
“They’ve stood up for economic values. They stood up for our Constitution,” he added. “And it’s a situation where that’s what Americans are looking for. They’re looking for somebody who will bring those leadership values.”
The Republican primary for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District is scheduled for Aug. 4.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.