Senate Candidate Dan Bongino Talks Issues
Patch asked the GOP hopeful for U.S. Senate where he stands on health care, the achievement gap, congressional redistricting and more.
Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino is hoping to defeat incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) this November.
The Severna Park Republican has an uphill battle in front of him with Cardin's seat marked safely Democratic by Real Clear Politics and Roll Call. Bongino, who was a virtual unknown until he won his party's primary in April, took a few moments to answer Patch's questions about where he stands on the issues.
Bongino said he is firmly against President Barack Obama's health care legislation and will work with Republicans to repeal it.
"Anyone who tells you that Republicans don't have a plan for health care reform is patently, flat out lying to you," Bongino said. "On our plan, you could cancel your insurance company and take that premium support elsewhere to an insurance company that will adequately serve your needs."
This is an option that he claimed wouldn't be available under the current legislation.
"We have risk pooling plans, health status insurance plans, tort reform plans and plans for buying health insurance across state lines," Bongino said.
One issue Bongino focuses on in his campaign ads is the importance of education.
"Maryland is supposedly number one in public schools, Bongino said. "I say supposedly because when you parse the data more you find out that we are actually close to the bottom in disparity."
He advocates for parent choice—which is more commonly known as school choice or school vouchers. It's a controversial idea that would allow public school parents to receive state and/or federal tax dollars allocated for their school in a check known as a voucher to help cover the cost of private-school tuition.
"There are struggling families around Baltimore City and Annapolis who don't have that option," Bongino said. "If their public school can't educate that child, they have no choice in the matter. I find that to be patently unfair."
If Bongino defeats Cardin in November, it will be the first time he's ever served in an elected office. When asked about whether he has the experience necessary to effectively govern, Bongino said, "What has political experience done for you? Taught you how to sell out?"
He's proud of the fact that he hasn't made a career in politics. Instead he touts his educational experience, his small businesses and his role as a husband and father. Bongino said if his experience isn't enough to win him the Senate seat, then "that's not a club I want to be a part of. I think it's time to get back to the citizen legislator.
"Ben Cardin has been in office 45 years. I challenge folks out there to tell me one serious piece of legislative action that has made a difference in their life."
Bongino recognized that both parties gerrymander districts to a degree, but he thinks the situation in Maryland goes beyond the pale.
"Do you believe that communities should have a voice or not? It's a very simple question, and it's not a partisan question either," Bongino said.
He supports the efforts of his congressional counterparts to bring Maryland's newly redrawn U.S. House districts to a voter referendum.
Bongino said that if voters only remember one thing about him, he wants it to be: "I'm one of them."
He said growing up poor gave him invaluable insight.
"I made my own way," Bongino said. "I can't necessarily say that for the other guy in the race."