EXCLUSIVE: Meet The Virginia Senate Candidate Backed By Top Conservatives

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Republicans are anxious to unseat former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine from his Virginia Senate seat in November, and top conservatives in the upper chamber have been quick to throw their support behind Del. Nick Freitas in his quest to secure the GOP nomination.

Just weeks after announcing his bid, Freitas — a libertarian-leaning Republican, former Green Beret and father of three — has already managed to lock down the endorsement of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and receive campaign guidance from Utah Sen. Mike Lee after touting his legislative record and dedication to upholding the Constitution.

“Being able to get the endorsement of Sen. Rand Paul is not only important to me from a campaign perspective, but it’s important me from on a personal level as well because I really see Rand as someone that’s been a champion of individual liberty even when it requires taking on your own party,” he told The Daily Caller.

Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus — who opts against endorsing in primaries, citing a belief “cronies shouldn’t pick winners and losers” and the people should decide —  said he’s impressed with Freitas’ legislative accomplishments on the state level.

“Nick is great on all the fundamentals, the Judeo-Christian tradition, the rule of law, free markets and he’s a good guy,” Brat told TheDC. “And, so I support people who believe in those fundamentals and are good solid conservative Republicans.”

Recently in Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam edged out Republican Ed Gillespie in the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial race and Republicans narrowly held onto control of the House of Delegates after Republican David Yancey’s name was drawn in a tiebreaker against Democrat Shelly Simonds. Freitas said he’s hopeful his ability to work across the aisle on a number of issues will help attract voters and combat the leftward trend in his state.

“If you look at all of my scores from the NRA, from Americans for Prosperity, American Conservative Union and the Family Foundation, I’m As across the board,” he said. “But I still got support from groups that people would probably consider to be more moderate or maybe even left of center. And it wasn’t because I compromised on any of my principles, it was because I found those principles where there was common ground.”

The Army veteran — who served two combat tours in Iraq — said he wasn’t initially interested in running for public office, having rejected initial calls for him to run for the Virginia House of Delegates, but felt compelled to run after observing American politics while serving abroad in 2008. The candidate said he thinks Democrats have shifted heavily to the left since former President Barack Obama kicked off his initial presidential campaign, which he argues will take the country in the wrong direction. Freitas said he believes his commitment to fighting for limited government in conjunction with the experience he gained during his 11 years of active military experience could be beneficial to Republicans in the upper chamber, providing a fresh take on not just fiscal issues but also foreign policy and national security issues.

“I have a unique perspective with respect to how we should be fighting terrorism, how we should be fighting rogue regimes,” he told TheDC. “And I think that it’s going to rely a lot more on a buy-through width approach that is respectful of the constitutional limitations that we have with respect to going to war and conducting combat operations.”

Freitas — who faces Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart, conservative Minister  E.W. Jackson and Army veteran Ivan Raiklin in the June primary — said he’s looking to provide a sharp contrast to the way Kaine legislates. While beating Kaine in the general will be a challenge — with the incumbent having high name recognition after running for vice president, serving as governor and lieutenant governor in the state before being elected to the Senate in 2012 — Freitas said he’s hopeful his push for regulatory reform, permanent tax cuts, school choice and reducing federal spending if elected will sway moderates and possibly Democrats to cast their ballots for him in November.

“Ever since he [Kaine] became the vice presidential candidate and really to some degree moved up to the Senate it’s a completely different tone out of Tim Kaine — it is far more visceral it’s far more combative,” he said, noting Kaine has voted with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, someone he believes is “sympathetic” to socialism, 85 percent of the time.

Freitas has pledged not to go after his opponents in the GOP primary, arguing he thinks it’s more productive to highlight his record and promote his platform. The Republican Party primary election is scheduled to take place on June 12.

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