Rice opponent for Congress seeks to start a ‘political revolution’

Rice opponent for Congress seeks to start a ‘political revolution’
Bob Shanlin, an Oceanside resident, is challenging Congresswoman Kathleen Rice in his first run for elected office. (Photo courtesy of Bob Shanlin)

Bob Shanlin has never run for elected office, but said he has been active in politics since he was 13 years old when he led an anti-Vietnam War protest march across Oceanside.

Shanlin, a 60-year-old retired correction officer from Bellmore, is challenging U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) for the Democratic nomination for her seat in the 4th District.

On his campaign website, Shanlin said Rice is a “Republican who changed parties because of the district we are in.”

He goes on to say Rice has “no values except that Kathleen Rice should be elected.”

Rice ran as a Democrat and won election as Nassau County district attorney in 2005, defeating the 31-year incumbent and becoming the first woman elected to the office. She was elected to Congress in 2014 and re-elected in 2016.

“Congresswoman Rice is proud to run for re-election on her record of putting her constituents first and fighting for Long Island’s priorities in Washington,” Coleman Lamb, a spokesman, said in a statement. 

Shanlin said he disagrees with Rice on a single-payer health care system, which he is for and she has not supported.

Since retiring as a sergeant after working for 25 years at the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow in 2008, Shanlin has written a book about politics and acted in and written plays for community theater.

Shanlin said he does not see his lack of experience in elected office as a negative.

“The fact that you have to be a professional full-time politician is nonsense,” Shanlin said. “I want to represent the voters and not the donors.”

Shanlin said he is looking to start a “political revolution” with his campaign promise to not accept any donations.

He said that if someone can win without money, it would inspire others to try it across the country.

Taking money out of politics is one way Shanlin said he wants to help protect the nation’s democracy.

“We have a legalized system of bribery in government,” Shanlin said. “You can buy any law no matter how insane if you’re willing to pay for it.”

Shanlin described Republican backing from the National Rifle Association as one example of politicians using donations to guide policy.

Without donor-backed politicians, elected officials would agree on much more, according to Shanlin.

“Once you have someone who’s not paid to believe what you believe most of your differences disappear very quickly,” Shanlin said. “People aren’t that far apart in what they want to accomplish if you focus on doing what’s best for the people and not bribed to believe nonsense.”

That “nonsense,” Shanlin said, includes climate change deniers.

Climate change should be at the top of politicians’ agendas, Shanlin said, especially on Long Island.

“Long Beach is going to become a short beach and then an underwater sandbar if we don’t get serious about this,” Shanlin said.

Other issues Shanlin supports includes legalizing marijuana, increasing the minimum wage and supporting the Dreamers.

In Shanlin’s crusade to protect American democracy, he said he also advocates for switching back to older voting machines that “can’t be hacked like any computer.”

According to Shanlin, President Donald Trump is a “Russian agent in the Oval Office.”

Protecting elections and democracy is at the forefront of Shanlin’s campaign, he said.

Another priority for Shanlin is overturning the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, he said. That ruling in 2010 allowed companies and unions to make unlimited independent expenditures in election campaigns.

“You’re not going to get the money out of politics if the people making the laws are getting paid,” Shanlin said. “We have to elect people who aren’t getting money.”

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