Could Queens send a Republican to Congress this year? Anthony Pappas believes so.
Pappas is running on the Republican line in New York’s 14th Congressional District with his Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as his opponent. Ocasio-Cortez defeated U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, The Bronx) in a surprise victory last June.
The Astoria resident stressed that, as much as he wishes to focus on the general election this fall, a court order resulting from his ongoing divorce case froze his campaign contributions. This means he is unable to access his funds until the decision is reversed. Pappas viewed this decision as a result of the “bizarre legal system” and vowed to fight this in court.
“Suppose I didn’t pay my credit card bill. Would my credit card company [touch] my federal election campaign account?” he said. “Probably not.”
The Federal Election Commission did not report the total for Pappas’ campaign, but the latest filings for his opponent show Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign has over $268,000 on hand.
Pappas did note there was interest in his campaign yet elaborated that this consisted of verbal support and donations. No Republican official has publicly supported Pappas’ congressional campaign so far.
“If they want to step up, then I’m waiting for them to step up,” he said.
The conversation shifted to Pappas’ opponent: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He wasn’t surprised by Ocasio-Cortez’s victory and praised the Bronx native’s energy during the primary.
“She’s become a national media celebrity,” he said. “Trying to turn that into a positive, some of the attention may turn on me.”
In addition, Pappas said he would be open to debating not just Ocasio-Cortez, but also Rep. Crowley. Crowley will be on the Working Families Party line in the general election, but the outgoing official vowed not to run.
The economics professor did criticize some aspects of his opponent’s campaign. He did not accept her association with democratic socialism as he felt it did not correspond with the idea of personal responsibility and effort.
“Let’s say you’re guaranteeing everyone a job,” Pappas said. “Two people graduate from college, one with an A average and the other with a C average. On the job, will they get paid the same? Does the person with the A average deserve more or how much more?”
The St. John’s University professor felt skeptical of Medicare-for-All, a plan to expand Medicare for all citizens that would create a single-payer health care program nationwide.
“There are many complications that you have to consider. It’s easy to say I’m giving everything out for free, but you have to consider the costs as well as the benefits,” he said.
Pappas spoke about ideas that he felt would work well. For instance, he used Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship as a template for a voucher system. This idea would allow students to attend private schools at a cheaper rate.
The self-described “Theodore Roosevelt Republican” would favor more anti-trust actions as he felt that both the Democratic and Republican administrations have not done enough on this issue.
Furthermore, he also spoke in favor of “secure borders” when discussing the issue of immigration.
“If you don’t have any limitations, the country could be flooded with millions of immigrants,” he said. “I believe it has to be controlled and regulated.”
On foreign policy, Pappas favors the existing system of alliances and viewed talks with North Korea as positive.
“We saw during the Cold War that to maintain a dictatorial regime you had to isolate people from news. Radio Free Liberty or Radio Free Europe were jammed. But as information about the rest of the world reached the population, they began to reject communism,” he said.
Pappas did not feel worried about President Donald Trump’s divisive image and expressed more concern about polarization across the country.
“I tend to try to be a unifier and bring people together rather than being a partisan cheerleader,” he said.
Despite the obstacles, Pappas is already meeting with certain groups about his campaign. He wants to become part of a “trend by making valid points about the issues” while on the trail.
Pappas felt the election would be more difficult for the Republicans in a heavily Democratic city. Still, he felt optimistic of the next few months.
“You have to be realistic,” he said. “I say it’s an uphill battle, but you try to engage the voters and give them your viewpoint. It’s up to voters to vote on election day.”
The general election is set for Tuesday, November 6.