Bew: He's credible with military voters

041319 Richard Bew

Democratic Third Congressional District candidate Richard Bew, a retired Marine colonel, addresses members of the Pasquotank Democratic Party at the Pasquotank County Library, Thursday.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Third Congressional District candidate Richard Bew told Pasquotank Democrats this week that his experience and expertise in military affairs and national security make him the only member of their party who can garner enough Republican votes to win the vacant congressional seat in the upcoming special election.

Accompanied by his wife, Trish, the retired Marine colonel from Newport — one of six Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the April 30 primary — met with Democrats at the Pasquotank County Library Thursday night.

At the heart of Bew’s pitch for his candidacy is his analysis that the party’s nominee has to pull in 10 percent of Republican voters to be able to win the seat in the special election.

There are 95,000 voters in the 3rd Congressional District who cast ballots primarily on the basis of military issues, Bew said.

“And the only Democrat they will consider is somebody they are confident has better credibility on military issues,” he said.

Bew believes he’s that Democrat. He said both his combat experience from eight deployments and his experience working with members of Congress from both parties as the legislative aide to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff give him unique expertise and perspective.

Asked about immigration and border security, Bew said there are steps that should be taken to improve border security “but the analysis says the wall is not the highest priority.”

“The wall is not a solution,” Bew said. “It’s a talking point. I’m not a talking point guy.”

Bew said he has hiked and flown along the U.S.’ southern border and understands that the desert is the most formidable barrier possible.

Ways to improve border security include better technology at ports of entry and a good stabilization program to make people in Central America less prone to flee their homes to try to come to the United States

“Border security does not start at the border,” Bew said. “It starts with our southern neighbors.”

The United States does not have a good stabilization program now, he said. President Donald Trump got rid of career professionals in the State Department and recently announced he was cutting aid to countries in Central America, Bew said, adding that cutting the aid was “unconscionable” and “the worst possible idea.”

When he was asked by an audience member whether he was concerned that a GOP opponent in the general election would paint him as an “open borders” candidate, Bew said “they would be lying” if they said that and he would campaign on the facts.

“I’m not for open borders,” Bew said. “I have actually never met anyone who is for open borders.”

Bew said he welcomes the opportunity to debate the issues.

“I’m glad to go toe-to-toe with any candidate on border security and national security,” Bew said.

Bew promised to spend time in the Albemarle if elected and said he plans to station a district staff aide in Elizabeth City. While talking about the district staff, he said he would retain the current staff of the late Rep. Walter Jones if he were elected. He said doing so would encourage continuity of constituent service.

Bew also mentioned health care during his brief remarks to Democrats.

Bew said he is committed to protecting Medicare, supports Medicaid expansion and will work in a bipartisan way to come up with a plan that will enable all Americans to get the health care they need. He said his grandson, who was born with cerebral palsy, has made tremendous progress because of the excellent health care he has been able to get through his father’s service as a Navy corpsman.

And not only is his grandson happy and healthy, but his daughter has not been made destitute by medical bills, he said.

“Why wouldn’t we want that for every American?” Bew asked.

All Americans should be able to get health care that will allow them those kinds of good outcomes, Bew said.

Democrats make a mistake, he said, when they go with plans for health care already in hand to Republicans. He believes the best way to proceed is to ask Republicans to commit to the premise that Americans should be able to get good health care that’s affordable, and then go to work on specifics.

“Whatever we have to do on health care, it better be bipartisan,” Bew said.

Bew noted that the military has now opened all ground combat positions to women, yet the nation still has not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. “To me that’s just absurd,” he said.

Asked about medical marijuana, Bew said he believes it has “a lot of potential” but added he needs to study the issue more before forming a position. He said he would treat all issues that way, always starting from a foundation of facts and weighing them carefully.