ORLANDO — Republican Todd Long had about $4,300 in his campaign bank account at the end of the third quarter, compared to more than $3 million raised by his Democratic opponent, Alan Grayson.
Long is a lawyer and has hosted a weekend talk show on local radio stations. This summer, he defeated a GOP opponent who national Republicans considered more electable. Many believe Long won in part because Grayson spent money attacking Long’s opponent.
2chambers spoke with Long before arriving in Florida. Our interview, edited for length and clarity, appears below:
2chambers: Why did you want to run for Congress?
We’re bankrupting the country. People are hurting, so until we start solving problems, I’m very solution-oriented, I’m a tax reform guy. I was doing a radio show before and it got to a point that – you know, I have two children, and if you’re not paying attention, then you should.
I’d rather fight and fight and lose for solutions to problems than not fight and tell my children that I saw their future go away. You have two choices: You fight, or you don’t. We choose to fight, we think we have very specific solutions that will turn the country around and put us on a good course, but obviously people can vote and they’ve been voting for these career politicians for a good time. It’s tough to break through, we know that , but we’re making progress.
2chambers: But how do you expect to win in a district that favors Democrats?
Long: Voter registration here is 43 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 29 percent independent. If you look at that – that’s 57 percent to 43 against the Democrats. Alan Grayson in his last race didn’t get any better than the Democratic vote. He’s wildly unpopular for many reasons, there’s no reason for independents to vote for him.
There’s been two objective polls done here, and they have us statistically tied by the margin of error, or down 2 points in a 5-point margin of error race.
Most of the Democrats down here are Christian Puerto Rican Democrats who have nothing in common with Grayson and the ACLU, who’s constantly on the attack against Christians and Christian values. I married a Hispanic, my kids are Hispanic, there are several reasons why we should do well.
2chambers: Why can Alan Grayson not go back to Congress in your view?
Long: He had his chance, he was thrown out. Nothing went well for anyone, especially the middle class. Instead of solving problems – gas prices went up, the debt went up, more people are on food stamps than ever – everything went the wrong way and Alan Grayson, instead of working with people, just started screaming at Republicans and calling people names.
If you have congressmen calling women “K St. Whores” and calling Dan Webster, “Taliban Dan,” obviously our country is going to go in the wrong direction. We have to have serious people up there with serious problems. He had his chance and it was an embarrassment for this entire district. We don’t scream at people and lie about things and call women whores. Most people that I know just can’t imagine the kind of person who would vote for this guy.
He got 40 percent of the vote against Dan Webster – who would vote for this guy? If that’s the kind of nation that we want to become, that we want our children to become little Alan Graysons, it’ll become a sad country and a sad place to live. That’s just fact.
But the country has a lot bigger problems than Alan Grayson. We aspire to much greater things than that, to help people who are hurting right now.
If I lose this time, I might run again. If nobody else is going to fight for the things I want to. Especially if it’s a close race and we lose by just 2 or 3 points. If he ekes out a slight victory because Obama’s on the ticket, then maybe again next time.
2chambers: So you used to host a radio show?
Long: I was in it off and on. I host conservative radio shows and wrote a conservative book, “The Conservative Comeback.”
2chambers: Why do you think conservatives do so well on the radio?
Long: All’s I know that being one, speaking for conservatives, I like to know what’s going on. The conservatives I know are very interested in the future of this nation, what’s going on, want to know what’s going on, they’re upset with Republicans – most conservative talk show hosts are going for Republicans. There’s conservatives who say, hey, we’re abandoning everything that made this country great, both parties are.
It’s the only voice we have, we don’t get on TV, it’s people who think like us with common sense.
2chambers: How did you get into radio?
Long: I’m a lawyer with a small business, I spent my own money on a weekend talk show. When I saw what was going on, this isn’t what’s supposed to be happening.
2chambers: And you grew up here in the D.C. area?
Long: Yup, in Arlington, went to George Washington University for them, played tennis. Then transferred to Rollins College in Winter Park, went to law school at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. My father was a State Department employee.