Bircher says Jolly's late decision to file made him "dig in"
Mark Bircher finished last in a three-way Republican primary in 2014 after longtime congressman C.W. "Bill" Young died, receiving 24 percent of the vote.
Incumbent 13th District Congressman David Jolly won that primary and went on to beat Democrat Alex Sink in a special election a few months later.
Bircher a retired bridgadier Marine general,decided to run again late last year after Jolly announced he would run for U.S. Senate. Marco Rubio was running for president and had said he wouldn't fight to keep his Senate seat.
But that scenario reversed itself in June. Rubio decided he wanted to keep his Senate seat after all. Jolly, then quit the Senate race and vowed to defend the 13th Congressional District against Democrat Charlie Crist.
Bircher told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board Thursday Jolly's late decision to run for the GOP nomination in the 13th District strengthened his resolve to continue his longshot candidacy.
"It made me want to dig in," said Bircher, a 63-year-old Seminole resident, who is also a pilot and attorney.
Bircher criticized Jolly on the Affordable Care Act, border security and fiscal issues, but spend most of his time talking about his own political philosophy.
That philosophy in a nutshell? A radical downsizing of the federal government. Bircher returned repeatedly to his theme that Washington, D.C. should be concerned primarily with national defense and foreign policy.
Call it states' rights on steroids.
Health care, in which the federal government currently plays a large role through Medicare and Medicaid? Turn it over to the states.
Social Security? Protect it, but turn it over to the states.
Social programs? That's not a federal responsibility. Let the states decide.
Bircher compared the federal government to the Wizard of Oz, playing perilous games with taxpayer money. It's run on money taken from the states or by floating debt, he said.
"We've traded our liberty for our entitlements and been blinded," Bircher said.
Bircher remains an overwhelming underdog in the Aug. 30 primary, raising just $18,501, $15,000 of that a loan made to himself. Jolly has raised $1.3 million for his Senate race. He transferred most of that money to his House race. The newest round of campaign finance filings will be released next week.