On Friday, former Republican Hill staffer and conservative journalist Quin Hillyer announced he was going to put his laptop aside and run for office in the open Alabama 1st Congressional District to replace Rep. Jo Bonner, who announced he will not seek re-election.
I’ve known Quin for years, but, like most of his colleagues, I didn’t see this one coming. He agreed to answer some questions via e-mail:
How did a nice journalist like you wind up in a campaign for a House seat? Are you sure you want to go to the dark side? Rep. [Jo] Bonner opened a rabbit hole and I fell through! Seriously, with my experience first on the Hill and as a journalist, I can hit the ground running inside Congress and in the media, for the good of southern Alabama.
What’s your connection to the state? I was born and grew up in New Orleans. I moved to Mobile in 1998 and worked for eight years as an editorial writer/columnist for the Mobile Register. (I moved) back again exactly two years ago. It’s my wife’s hometown, and my long-adopted hometown.
How would journalist Quin Hillyer assess candidate Quin Hillyer’s prospects? Quite good, once all the smoke clears.
You are a history buff — what period intrigues you the most? Easy: The period of America’s founding. Or, for a broader sweep, the four-decade period of James Madison’s active career.
What is the most outrageous Obama scandal and why? Every time I think one is worse than the others, something new breaks to make me change my mind. Maybe the biggest scandal is that there are so many things with this administration that truly are scandalous.
Does your family think you are nuts? If they do, they haven’t said so. They have been most supportive!
What would be your immediate priorities? You mean once I get to Congress, or in my campaign? If the former: Working to replace ObamaCare with market-based solutions of the sorts conservatives have been pushing for years. Aside from that, working feverishly to relimit the size and intrusiveness of government — except defense, which needs to be lean but robust — for the sake of freedom .
Who is your ideal congressman? James Madison circa 1790-92. And Bob Livingston as Appropriations Chair in 1995-96, when I helped him and others cut $50 billion in actual domestic discretionary dollars when $50 billion was “real money.”
Are getting things done incompatible with being a principled conservative? Definitely not. A principled conservative will know how to accommodate enough different views without sacrificing principle that he really does “get things done.”
I’ll add a few insights from a personal perspective. Quin and I haven’t always agreed on every issue or every race, not by a long shot. But he, without exception, always made his counterarguments with humor and by marshaling facts and never lost sight of the fact that a disagreement on one issue or candidate doesn’t mean you won’t agree on a host of others. He also has a keen sense that Republicans have lost the ability to gauge when to stand and fight and when to strike a deal. He has a deep understanding of national security and is a forceful advocate of discerning but bold U.S. leadership in the world. In those respects, Quin unfortunately is relatively rare these days.
We’ll keep an eye on his race.