I met Warren Redlich in 2006. Then he was a candidate for Congress, in his second attempt to unseat intrenched incumbent Mike McNulty. He ultimately failed in his bid, but did manage to out perform most previous candidates. His platform seemed simple - stop wasting money. I guess such a simple message didn't resonate then as it does now. Redlich has turned from two time Congressional candidate to Gubernatorial candidate - seeking both the Libertarian and Republican Party lines. Redlich is a small business owner, a local Town Board member, and a libertarian leaning Republican with some interesting ideas on the issues. Redlich was willing to answer some of my questions for an email based interview. His answers follow.
Matthew Newman: Early on, there was a draft movement to convince you to run for Governor by Libertarian activist Eric Sundwall. What, in the end, finally led to you deciding to pursue this and run for Governor?
Warren Redlich: For a while now, my soundbite has been "Stop Wasting Money". That's the name of my political blog. After Eric and others asked me to run, I reviewed the state budget and found a tremendous amount of waste. That meant running for Governor fits with my underlying message. My campaign focuses on ways NY can stop wasting money - by capping bureaucrat pay at $100K (and their pensions at $75K), eliminating corporate welfare and more.
MRN: Compared to the current leading GOP candidates, Rick Lazio and Steve Levy, you come as a political outsider. How do you feel your campaign will be able to compete in primary in this current political climate?
WR: I'm hoping to get grass roots support from the Tea Party movement. With their help I can get on the ballot and, once on the ballot, the choice for Republicans becomes very clear. Lazio and Levy are insiders with a long history of increasing spending. I'm also a better choice on some core conservative issues like the Second Amendment.
MRN: How do you feel your experiences in and outside of government would apply to serving as Governor?
WR: I've worked with several state agencies over the past 15 years. That's a pretty good start.
Going back, I studied legislatures when I got a Master's degree at Stanford. And I have a legislative role now on our town board. So on both theoretical and practical levels, I have a pretty good idea of what to do.
The main lesson is how to start. I would pick the strongest issues and fight for them. I'd identify the most vulnerable legislators and encourage them to join me on the issue. If they say no, I'll be in their districts the next day recruiting candidates to run against them. There's nothing they fear more than their next election.
MRN: What do you feel are the most important issues facing New Yorkers today?
WR: Runaway state spending is colliding with declining revenue. We are now seeing threats to close state parks, lay off teachers, and add a variety of new taxes such as the soda tax. We can avoid these threats by eliminating wasteful agencies and taking on overpaid bureaucrats.
MRN: One of your major proposals is the elimination of a number of State departments. How feasible do you feel this goal is to accomplish especially with a combative and Democratic dominated State Legislature?
WR: Of course it's a challenge. But the departments I list are hard to defend. From a practical political view, eliminating 10,000 jobs to save a million jobs is a no-brainer. It's really us vs. them, and there's a lot more of us.
As I mentioned above, I would start with the most vulnerable legislators and work my way through the rest of them.
MRN: You mention on your website that, "Most state revenue comes from a small number of sources, mainly personal income tax, sales tax, and
corporate tax. If we cut spending even a small amount, we can eliminate nearly all the other taxes." What are some of these other taxes and what would the average savings be on the taxpayer if these were eliminated?
WR: It starts with simple things like parking fees at state parks. We already paid for the parks in our other taxes - why are we paying again? There's the proposed soda tax and the MTA commuter tax. Thruway tolls are another great example - the bonds were paid off years ago.
I don't have specific numbers because there's so many of these little taxes it's hard to add them up.
But the focus of my campaign is not taxes. That's putting the cart before the horse. We have to cut the spending first. Anyone can talk about cutting taxes, but it's empty talk if you keep spending like drunken sailors.
MRN: At this point, with Governor Paterson not seeking reelection, the expected Democratic nominee is Andrew Cuomo. What is your opinion on Attorney General Cuomo?
WR: As head of HUD, he contributed to the mortgage crisis by pushing for looser lending standards and for expanding Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He is bought and paid for by big money insiders - he even got a $55K contribution from a Manhattan parking garage. Think about that one for a minute.
So I'm not fond of Cuomo. But it's early yet. So far he's not running and he hasn't offered any real answers to NY's problems. We'll see what he does say if he runs.
MRN: Will you still run in the general election as a Libertarian if you receive their line and do not receive the Republican Party line?
MRN: Wealthy Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino is also running for Governor and seeking the Republican, Conservative, and reportedly creating a Tea Party line. What is your opinion of his campaign and has his entry into the race impacted your decision to run?
WR: He's certainly interesting, and he has a following. So far I'm hearing a lot of talk but I'm still waiting for some real substance. I'm going to wait a bit and see how he does. There's even a possibility we might be able to work together.
MRN: What is the one thing you want to make sure potential voters know about your campaign?
WR: A public library administrator makes $689,000 a year. The head of a state university makes $280K while getting a $241K pension and a $100K state consulting job on the side (total $641K). A guy running municipal parking lots makes $130K. Fifty-four employees of the MTA make over $200K while the MTA loses $500 million a year.
Government in New York State is broken. I'm the only one with a plan to fix it.
I'm the only one who tells people where I'll cut spending. Lazio has no answers on that. Levy claims he has a history of cutting spending, but it's not true. In his first 5 years in Suffolk County he increased spending 33% - an average of 6.5% a year.
Redlich is a candidate with some very specific ideas on the issues. His website is filled with policy statement after policy statement. If you are interested in learning more, I suggest you check out his website. I thank Mr. Redlich for his honest answers to these questions and I look forward to seeing how his candidacy plays out.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant