New conservatives join 2010 political battle: Jesse Kelly
By Linda Prussen-Razzano
In the first few months following the 2008 elections, many mainstream pundits either resolutely trumpeted the death throes of the Republican Party or implored Republicans to embrace a more "inclusive" philosophy. With alarming regularity, unapologetic conservatives were being ridiculed as out of touch with the American people. "Change" had come to America, and these smug pundits and Washington insiders were convinced that the Republican Party would become obsolete unless they shed the "right-wing extremists" in their midst.
As the media and the White House went after conservative voices, conservatives became entrenched. As the Administration pulled the country further left, conservatives became motivated. And as the Left's behavior grew more outrageous, conservatives acted.
My, what a difference a few months can make. The vanguards of la politique du jour will undoubtedly be surprised by the sharp surge in candidates who are proud of their conservative beliefs and have taken to the political battlefield to defend them.
Such was the case for Jesse Kelly, a candidate for Congressional District 8 in Arizona. His "battle ready" ad drew my attention; his conservative positions piqued my interest. As an Iraqi veteran, he obviously wasn't afraid of a fight. I had the opportunity to speak with Jesse about what prompted him to join the political fray.
Our conversation started off easily. At first, Jesse had a personable, engaging manner, with a rich timbre to his voice. As our conservation progressed, his cadence increased and the easy manner slowly dissipated, revealing a deep-seated passion behind his views.
"I love my country. I was perfectly happy with my life, but I knew coming up to the  election just how radical this President was." Alarmed by events in Washington, Jesse concluded, "I will not let him spend my [infant] son into debt before he is old enough to walk."
Did his wife, Aubrey, support his decision? Jesse revealed that he met his wife after his tour of duty ended in 2004, and that his congressional run was a decision "we made together." Serving in Congress was "100% 'our goal'."
When asked which three initiatives he would like to accomplish during his time in Congress, if elected, he paused. "It's hard to limit it to just three…there are so many…returning to limited, constitutional government, cutting taxes, funding for our security, border security, energy independence, making second amendment rights safe from interference, restoring our rights and our liberties.."
With Arizona being a border state, I knew that they felt the full effects of border traffic. "First, I would secure the border. You must patch the leak in the boat before you start bailing water." Jesse saw the border issue as critical to national security, because aside from people "…we are importing drugs and crime." He wanted to implement the double-row of fences that parts of California had in place, which successfully stopped the flow of illegal aliens into certain parts of the State. Then, he would turn his attention to businesses who hired illegals. "People need to come into the country legally, on our terms, like our ancestors did."
When asked who inspired him politically, his response was immediate. "Ronald Reagan. I know that sounds like a 'pat' answer, but it's true. From a very early age, he inspired me."
When asked who inspired him personally, he seemed momentarily surprised by the question. Then, firmly, "My father."
I wanted to know what he learned from his time on the front. Instead of waxing poetic about himself, he replied, "We have the most amazing people, men and women, fighting and dying over there. There were so many heroes all around me. I wasn't one, but I was surrounded by heroes. " His vibrant voice grew solemn and heavy with suppressed emotion. "I miss some of them…I miss them."
While I was disappointed that his website didn't reveal more historical information about him, I was able to confirm that his endorsements, including, among others, the Minuteman PAC and the Iraq Veterans for Congress PAC, were genuine. Here's hoping we read more, and learn more, about this unflinching conservative in the future.
Linda Prussen-Razzano is frequent contributor to Enter Stage Right and a number of other online magazines.