Philip Pidot claims mantle as true GOPer

Philip Pidot claims mantle as true GOPer

While he now will not get a chance to run against him in a Republican primary, Philip Pidot said he could have beaten state Sen. Jack Martins as the true conservative in the 3rd Congressional District.

Combined with his successful fight to cancel the Oct. 6 primary and, previously, to delay the Nov. 8 general election, Martins’ “distinctly liberal voting record” and ambivalence toward reform in Albany alienated his conservative base in the North Shore district, Pidot said last week in a sit-down interview with Blank Slate Media.

“I think if anyone doesn’t have a credible chance, it’s Martins,” Pidot, a Glen Cove fraud investigator, said before a federal court canceled the Republican primary. “After he runs through whatever the rest of his litigation is … what constituency does he have to go back to?”

Pidot pushed for a Republican primary from May, when the state Board of Elections first ruled him off the ballot, until a federal appellate court overturned a lower court ruling that set the Oct. 6 vote. His campaign has cast Martins as a machine politician who has compromised conservative principles and has ties to corrupt Albany leaders.

For example, Pidot said, Martins failed to support term limits for state lawmakers after taking an endorsement from the Reform Party, which made support for the measure a condition for its backing, Pidot said. The party endorsed Martins in the congressional race.

Pidot also cited the New York State Conservative Party ranking Martins the most liberal Senate Republican last year. He was tied with senators William J. Larkin Jr. (R-Troy) and Sue Serino (R-Hyde Park). The Conservative Party also endorsed him for Congress.

Martins also voted for a state budget that included a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 after warning about its dangers as chairman of the Senate’s Labor Committee, Pidot said.

Pidot would have voted against the last four state budgets, both because they boosted spending too much and contained taxpayer funding for abortions, he said.

“They are raising the tax burden every time they jack up spending,” Pidot said, which hurts taxpayers and makes New York’s business climate more unfriendly.

Republicans say they got a middle-class tax cut and increased school funding, to the relief of many local districts, in exchange for the minimum wage hike.

Martins has not run his campaign as a hardline conservative but rather a bipartisan compromiser who gets things done.

He has touted his tax-cutting efforts in Albany, including the repeal of the MTA payroll tax; his support for “common sense” statewide gun control; and the minimum-wage and paid family leave measures passed this year.

Martins is the only candidate in the congressional race who has actually cut taxes, E. O’Brien Murray, his campaign strategist, wrote in an email, adding that the Conservative Party endorsed him in this race and all three of his state Senate races.

He also expressed support earlier this year for term limits on leadership posts and committee chair positions, and voted to strip pensions from lawmakers convicted of felony corruption. He said last month that he would support term limits in Congress.

“Jack Martins has earned voters’ trust and support time and time again because they know that he delivers on the priorities they care about,” Murray wrote.

Pidot’s policy positions veer to the right of political orthodoxy in the 3rd District, which tilts slightly Democratic and has elected the moderate state and federal representatives in recent years.

He wants to combat “pay-to-play” politics by strengthening federal bribery statutes and broadening corruption laws to punish officials who dole out influence or access as favors, not just policy actions.

He also want term limits in Congress of eight to 12 years and to eliminate pensions for elected officials, which he said would combat a corrupt system of entrenchment.

“I think in the last several years politicians have gotten very comfortable with the idea that there is very little downside to selling favors, influence, legislation from their office,” Pidot said. “It rarely gets prosecuted, and if it does, it is now increasingly being overturned.”

Pidot said he favors conservative tax reforms such as eliminating the estate and capital gains taxes, consolidating the seven federal income tax brackets into four, cutting the top income tax rate by at least 10 percent and reducing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

He has signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to never raise taxes, and said he would not accept $10 in spending cuts for $1 in new tax revenue.

“I think earlier in the process than the final horse-trading comes from that trying to persuade one’s colleagues in Congress that tax increases are not going to help anyone,” he said. “Even if you throw me something that I really wanted in exchange for it, they’re something that’s destructive to the economy of the country.”

Some of those proposals could be expensive. 

The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated an estate tax repeal the House passed last year would cost about $269 billion in revenue over 10 years. 

But rooting out unnecessary federal subsidies, Medicare fraud and other government waste could save up to $1 trillion a year, Pidot said.

Like Martins, Pidot favors repealing the Affordable Care Act and supports Republican Donald Trump as the most viable presidential alternative to Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

But Pidot said he has concerns about Trump’s temperament and “authoritarian” tendencies.

“I think ultimately the criticism about him that he is not a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, whether fiscally, socially, on trade and foreign policy, is accurate,” Pidot said.

Pidot opposes a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine and said the U.S. should change its position that Israel is occupying the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a departure from the American foreign policy of the last 50 years. He also said it was more important for Israel to remain a democracy than a Jewish state.

Pidot said the U.S. should have applied greater military and diplomatic pressure when negotiating last year’s nuclear accord with Iran, which he said he opposed. He said he would support military action against Iran to prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb.

“This is a belligerent, well funded — now even better funded — potentially nucelar-capable country, and it’s one that we don’t want to be sitting down to negotiate over the release of hostages, over the timetable upon which they can add new [nuclear] centrifuges,” Pidot said.

Pidot would also support putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria if military generals say it’s necessary.

By Noah Manskar

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