Clifton Johnson's campaign is very different than the four other Republicans running in Nebraska’s U.S. Senate race. He doesn’t raise money or do interviews. He calls this approach “non-traditional.” In this NET News Campaign Connection 2014 Signature Story, Mike Tobias examines Johnson’s background and politics.
See the latest candidate campaign finance reports on the Federal Election Commission web site
"A Crowded Pack: Nebraska's U.S. Senate Race" (January 2014 NET News Signature Story)
"2014 Shaping Up as a Chaotic Election Year in Nebraska" (September 2013 NET News Signature Story)
"Two Democrats Put in Bids for Open U.S. Senate Seat" (April 2014 NET News Signature Story)
OTHER GOP SENATE CANDIDATE PROFILES
“How many think that the country’s doing great, headed in the right direction and the government’s working hard to expand our freedoms and liberties?” he asked. “How many believe we’re on a dangerous path to a socialist-leaning government, loss of respect around the world, increased crime across our nation, with our Midwest Nebraska values and morals fading away? Agreed. Remember George Washington, well, he’s back and he’s upset.”
The George Washington reference is common in Johnson’s campaign. “NewGeorgeWashington” is even part of his e-mail address, which Johnson used to tell NET News he’s not a conventional candidate, and is running a campaign that’s “not traditional.” Part of that philosophy includes declining our request for an interview for this story; he says he’s also declined other media requests and doesn’t accept donations. Johnson was excluded from a series of Nebraska Republican Party-sponsored debates, but he has been making appearances at other candidate events throughout the state, like this speech at a Douglas County Republican Central Committee meeting which Johnson placed on his web site.
“I have absolutely no interest in working with or helping this administration’s leftist agenda,” Johnson said at the Douglas County meeting. “I’m not a moderate Republican, and if the party hierarchy wants moderate Republicans, we’ll just end up with socialism-light.”
According to his website and campaign flyer, Johnson is a 51-year-old businessman and entrepreneur who has lived in the Fort Calhoun and Blair area for most of his life. He says he started 10 businesses, and currently owns hotels in Blair and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Johnson says that helps him understand government regulations and job creation.
“Moving forward, we need to reduce regulations, individual and corporate taxes for massive industry growth in order to create the number of jobs that we’re going to need moving forward,” Johnson said at the Washington County event.
On some issues, Johnson’s positions are similar to other Republican candidates.
“Important issues for Nebraskans are a mixture of state, federal and international, the drift to the left at every level of government to grow every level of government, increase its cost, to reach an intrusion into our personal and private lives, whether that be in the Department of Health and Human Services at the state level, Obamacare act at the federal level or now even United Nations on climate issues internationally,” Johnson said in his speech at the Washington County event.
Johnson opposes the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, saying Republicans need to present a common sense alternative to what he calls a “2,500 page socialized health bill.” On his flyer, Johnson says part of the conversation should include “fair-priced, community health care clinics in every community, offering payment plans where needed.”
On immigration, Johnson says “every U.S citizen should learn the English language.” At the Douglas County meeting, here’s how he addressed a question on immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally: “First we have to know who’s here. That’s the first thing. So I say we give them 180 days, six months, they have to come in, sign up. We can do the logistics through the DMV. They’ve got to give us a name, where they live and why they’re here. That will bring in most of the people with good intentions, and anybody that doesn’t come in and sign up in 180 days that comes in contact with law enforcement will be deported without delay.”
Johnson also proposes closing the border with Mexico by putting eight U.S soldiers every mile along a thousand mile stretch. At the same time, he calls for “making legal immigration easier and more expedited, especially for those legally waiting in line.”
Johnson’s flyer calls for “dissolving the Internal Revenue Service” and repealing the 16th Amendment, which defines our current federal income tax. He would replace this with a consumption tax, usually defined as a tax on what people spend versus what they earn.
Johnson talks often about love of country in his speeches, and of the need for Republicans to win elections before it’s “too late to save the country.”
“Now we have a radical, socialist administration with a number of like-minded senators and congressmen who have vowed to fundamentally transform the United States of America,” Johnson said at the Washington County forum. “Well, nobody burns the flag in front of me. Socialism has proven throughout the ages to be a failure. The time for political correctness is over.”
Johnson is counting on strong words to make up for his lack of resources in this self-described non-traditional campaign.