Earlier this week, I had the privilege of interviewing Jason Emert, a candidate for the 2nd congressional district of Tennessee.
Below is the transcript of our exchange:
JF: Tell me about your background, how you became conservative. Were you always of this worldview? If not, how did you get here?
Jason: Growing up in East Tennessee, our values of love of God, love of others, and love of country are deeply engrained and something I learned pretty early on. In school, I learned the history of our country’s founding and the principles that made America a beacon of hope and freedom across the world.
JF: Truly amazing, I wish more schools taught this. What made you decide to run for office?
Jason: America is at a turning point. Our world is constantly changing and the time is now for a new generation of leadership. The leaders of tomorrow must secure a future of prosperity and fiscal responsibility. Donald Trump’s outsider, anti-establishment campaign inspired me to throw my hat in the ring and do what I can for our community. Therefore, when Rep. Duncan announced he would not seek re-election, I felt called to step up to the plate for East Tennessee. Just like President Trump was, I’m the one true outsider in this race. In Congress, it’s my pledge to make Washington work for us again.
JF: Who is your opponent and how are you doing against them?
Jason: My two main opponents are Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and State Rep. Jimmy Matlock. Both Burchett and Matlock are career politicians, constantly making promises they can’t keep to their constituents. Specifically, Burchett failed to keep his promises on paying down county debt and Matlock voted against the largest tax cut in Tennessee history.
When people in East Tennessee voted for President Trump, they were looking for an outsider who could shake things up. I spend my days traveling the Second District to take my own outsider message to East Tennessee voters, and our momentum and support continue to grow. It’s clear that people in our District want to see change in the status quo, and I believe they recognize I’m the right person to help President Trump drain the swamp and get our country back on track.
JF: Interesting, I always wondered how politicians who do things like that are so often able to hide their public records. But what about you specifically makes you the ideal candidate to defeat those two?
Jason: As a businessman in my community, I have seen first hand the problems our small business owners and middle-class families face day in and day out. I’m not running for Congress to further my own career — I’m in this race to fight for East Tennessee values and make Washington work for us again. Anti-Trump liberal values don’t resonate with voters in East Tennessee. They want a congressman who will stand with President Trump on issues like immigration and taxes, amongst others. I’m confident they will see I’m the right person for the job.
JF: How is your district in terms of the electorate?
Jason: The second district is filled with conservative, hard working, God fearing people who know that government generally isn’t the solution to our problems — it is the problem. I’m running on a platform of what I like to call “East Tennessee values” — at the end of the day, most people just want to put food on the table and their families to be safe. And in Congress, I’ll fight to make that a reality for my constituents.
JF: Have you received any endorsements yet?
Jason: No, and I do not plan to. Running as an outsider candidate I am not soliciting or promoting any endorsements. While I greatly appreciate the support and well wishes I’ve received from numerous public figures, I only want voters to be evaluating my stances and qualifications when they head to the ballot box.
JF: Makes sense. What do you think of Trump so far? What about the GOP Congress?
Jason: From appointing strong conservative judicial nominees to championing historic tax reform, President Trump is truly a conservative reformer. The President consistently puts America first, just as he promised. As for Congress, they have worked well with the President, but we all agree they could do better. East Tennesseans deserve a fighter who will drain the swamp and change the way Congress functions.
The same group of DC insiders have spent decades in Washington bowing to special interests instead of serving the American people. In Congress, I’ll fight for reforms to drain the swamp once and for all.
JF: It seems that Tennessee is a strong red state on its face, but right now you have two Senators that may as well be Democrats, and the Democrat nominee for Corker’s seat has a real shot, according to polls. Why do you think this is, and do you think we can retain the seat?
Jason: As we see currently playing out, it’s vastly important for Republicans to keep control of the Senate, as there’s a great chance that President Trump will get to nominate yet another Justice to the Supreme Court. I believe fully that Marsha Blackburn will win this fall.
That said, I’m fully focused on my race. I’m traveling the Second District every day and making sure voters hear my message of making Washington work for us again. President Trump needs all the strong conservative allies he can get in Congress, and I believe I am one of them.
JF: What are your stances on taxes, spending and economic growth in general?
Jason: Since President Trump’s tax reform passed, companies are raising wages, middle class Americans are receiving more take-home pay, and previously discouraged workers are reentering the job market. It’s a step in the right direction, but our work isn’t done. We have to make these tax cuts permanent to ensure further growth and opportunity down the road.
But when it comes to improving the economy, cutting taxes will only take us part of the way. Washington spends far too much money, period. If we want to keep our economy thriving, then we have to stand up to wasteful spending. It’s time to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, otherwise the trend of needless spending will continue.
As for general economic growth, America is finally on a path of sustainable growth thanks to the leadership of President Trump. By cutting burdensome regulations and the corporate tax rate, the President has fostered the proper environment for growth. But there is still more work to be done and I look forward to helping him if elected.
JF: Another important policy area is immigration and sanctuary cities. Where do you stand on that issue?
Jason: We can’t allow cities to receive federal funding when they are in violation of federal laws. We need to ban sanctuary cities immediately and withhold funds from any city that harbors illegal aliens. Washington needs to take action to eliminate sanctuary cities — American lives depend on it.
JF: One relatively controversial area which divides Trump and the conservative base a bit is infrastructure. What do you think on this? How should the country’s crumbling infrastructure be improved?
Jason: Our roads and highways are crumbling, plain and simple. It’s time to take our infrastructure into the 21stcentury so that American citizens and businesses can continue to grow. President Trump made infrastructure a key component of his campaign. In Congress, I’ll work with the President to pass an infrastructure plan that creates jobs and carries America to a brighter future.
JF: Why should your district in Tennessee vote for you?
Jason: In 2016, people in East Tennessee rejected the status quo because they were tired of the same career politicians doing nothing on their behalf. They voted for President Trump because they wanted someone who would shake up Washington and bring back accountability to our government. I’m not running to make a life-long career serving DC insiders and special interests; I’m running to make Washington work for us again. I’m here to serve the people of East Tennessee and no one else.
JF: How can people seeing this contribute or help out your campaign?
Jason: If you’re in the area, we’d love to have you volunteer with us to knock on doors or make phone calls, or if you’d like to donate, you can do that, too. Visit our campaign website at jasonemert.com.
JF: Great, wish you the best of luck! Thanks for taking the time.