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Jon Fleischman

Where They Stand: CA GOP House Candidates –> Syria

We’ve decided to kick off a new feature here on the FlashReport to help our readers get to know the non-incumbent Republican candidates running for Congress around California.  Entitled, “Where They Stand,” this periodic feature will allow us to throw a question out credible GOP candidates running in either an open “safe R” seat or seeking to challenge an incumbent Democrat in a competitive district.  The question will typically be something up for a vote in Congress, so that these folks can weigh in on the public debate.

We sent the first question to Igor Birman, Elizabeth Emken and Doug Ose in CD 7, Tony Strickland in CD 26, Assemblyman Brian Nestande in CD 36, Pat Maciariello, Supervisor John Moorlach, and State Senator Mimi Walters in CD 45, and Carl DeMaio and Kik Jorgensen in CD 52.  All the candidates responded except for Strickland, whose campaign indicated that they would participate in the future.

The first question that we have posed to the candidates, with 300 words or less to answer, was:  If you were in Congress now, based on the information you have available to you, would you vote for a resolution authorizing U.S. military involvement in Syria, and why?

Here are their answers, verbatim.  And at the risk of being accused of skipping ahead, it is singularly worthy of note that every one of these candidates, were they in Congress now, would be voting no…



Igor Birman

Whether the United States should attack Syria — a nation that has in no way threatened our country or our allies  — is an all-time no-brainer.  Absolutely not.

How utterly irresponsible to breathlessly assure Americans that military action would be a “very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort.”  Once the first missile salvo is launched, we are at war with no control over the enemy’s response or the chain of events we have set into motion.

How utterly incomprehensible to take sides in a civil war where no matter whether Al Qaeda or Al Assad wins, a group of thugs will continue to dominate Syrialong after the mortars and missiles fall silent.

There is no denying that Syria is ruled by a murderous dictator and a scourge of utter tyranny.  Many nations share the same dismal fate.  There is also no denying that Assad’s regime has no ambitions outside its borders.

As much as the Administration would like to conflate Syria and Iran, it’s oblivious to a major difference between the two.  Iran has actively committed itself to nuclear arms precisely in order to upend the balance of power in the Middle East, threaten the existence of Israel and, if it obtains technology to mount those arms on intercontinental ballistic missiles, put America within its reach.  Syria has not.

I am heartened that after years of scorn, President Obama has rediscovered a long-lost respect for the Constitution and sought Congressional approval ofstrikes on Syria.  But that doesn’t mean that Congress should accommodate his reckless request.

It’s rare when Dennis Kucinich and Ted Cruz agree on something.  Perhaps we should pay attention to such moments, and I agree with both of them: we shouldn’t act as al-Qaeda’s Air Force.

Link to Birman campaign website.


Elizabeth Emken

Unfortunately for America, President Obama has navigated us into a no-win situation on Syria.  And knowing he has put America’s credibility at risk, he has punted the decision to Congress.  As a candidate for California’s 7th Congressional District, I oppose military action in Syria in the absence of a viable plan and I do not believe one has been offered.

Congress cannot let presidential pride, or even the legitimate outrage over the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians affect their assessment of what is in America’s national security interests.  This is a civil war and if the international community chooses to act, we should require support alongside American leadership and only if our national interests are at stake.  But the United States should not risk American lives to clean up the political mistakes of Barack Obama.

This Administration’s feckless foreign policy has undermined our credibility, alienated allies, and emboldened enemies.  We should have concrete and achievable objectives that will stabilize Syria and prevent President Bashar Al-Assad from further use of chemical weapons.  With Russian warships moving toward Syria and their intentions unclear, we need a viable strategic plan, not reactionary bravado that invites us into a foreign policy adventure with no defined outcome.

I urge President Obama to withdraw his request from Congress.  We must preserve our ability to maintain a united front in foreign policy, but regrettably the president has put us in a no-win situation. He has not earned the support of Congress and the American people. Preserving this credibility – to project American power when it is in our national interest to do so – is the vital national security interest at hand.

Link to Emken campaign website.

Doug Ose

Doug Ose

At this time, there is no way I would vote to authorize military action in Syria.

I do not trust this President.  Time and again, he has shown himself to be feckless, reckless and vague.  Our enemies see the White House’s weakness and waffling, so they advance their interests while this President all but begs for assistance from around the world – finding almost none.  Can you imagine President Reagan doing this?

This President either cannot or will not speak clearly about what we should do in Syria and how it would advance our national interest.

This President either cannot or will not explain why it is America’s burden to punish Assad, instead of Syria’s Arab neighbors, Russian benefactors, Chinese supporters or even the United Nations.

This President either cannot or will not outline any strategy to ensure that chemical weapons don’t fall into the hands of international terrorists if the Assad regime is toppled.
Perhaps that is why the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense made such lackluster and contradictory appearances before Congress.  They’re confused, too.

Democratic Congressman Ami Bera sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has access to classified intelligence data.  Yet he will not ask the tough questions of this President, nor will he challenge Democrats on the wisdom of action in Syria.  But that’s what is needed now.

This administration has made a shambles of American foreign policy.  They have no plan, no answers and no vision.  They punt or run at the first sign of difficulty.  And yet now they expect those of us with real-world experience to bail them out by sending our sons and daughters and those of our neighbors into a centuries-old tribal conflict and the middle of a bloody civil war.

The President has simply not made the case that we need to go to war.  Not even close.

Link to Ose campaign website.


Assemblyman Brian Nestande

Assemblyman Brian Nestande

It is preferable that we stand behind the president, the commander in chief, when he initiates military action. However, the case to use military force in Syria has not yet been made.  The American people and Congress need the president to outline a more coherent strategy, accompanied by clear objective goals to justify the use of force in Syria.

Furthermore, this is a civil war with no clear outcome that can favor the interests of the United States or its allies. The opposition is significantly composed of Al Qaeda or like-minded combatants.  Once again, without a clear foreign policy objective in the region it is hard to understand what will be gained from “limited” military action.

The president has a chance tonight to explain his foreign policy objectives, evidence and rationale for action in Syria. As a fellow American, I hope the president can restore America’s prestige and provide leadership to the rest of the world.

Link to Nestande campaign website.


Pat Maciariello

Pat Maciariello

Leaders make difficult decisions. For the President to set a bright red line was a mistake; for him to abdicate responsibility of that line is a dereliction of duty and beneath the office. He committed our resources to Libya’s civil war without seeking Congressional approval; he has unilaterally expanded both the breadth and scope of drone strikes against targets he deems necessary to protect national security. Across issues both domestic and foreign, the President has only rarely sought the legislative branch’s approval. Yet only now, in a conflict that is more than two years old, he seeks political cover to mask his own administration’s muddled resolve.

The framers endowed the executive branch with powers to lead decisively in situations like this, where circumstances change at a moment’s notice and where soliciting support from 535 legislators is not appropriate.

Leaders in Congress are not yet being asked to vote as the diplomatic process is still unraveling.  Just today we learned that Russian leaders are pushing Syria to place their weapons under international control.  As long as these good faith attempts are ongoing I could not authorize the use of force.

I believe the use of chemical weapons requires a response. The President has not yet convinced me, though, that at this time military intervention is the appropriate response, or indeed within America’s national security interests.

More broadly, we need to develop a consistent foreign policy. What is our policy in the Middle-East? We stood by while Iran slaughtered democratic protestors and developed nuclear technology yet we supported or were ambivalent to revolution in Egypt.  To operate effectively the world must know where America stands.

Link to Maciariello campaign website.

Supervisor John Moorlach

Supervisor John Moorlach

No.  The Middle East is one of the most complex and volatile regions in the world.  Treading here is not for the faint of heart or for those who have not mastered three-dimensional chess.  I see four major reasons to pause and reflect.

The first is that the United States is broke and its military is over-extended.  Without a thorough cost and manpower analysis, this nation should be reluctant to start a skirmish that could turn into another quagmire.  President Obama, if you start it, you have to finish it; and that could further endanger the fiscal well being of a country that has already had its credit rating downgraded.

Second, the U.S. is still suffering from a Benghazi hangover.  If going after Syrian President Bashar Assad is such a critical maneuver, why aren’t world leaders calling President Obama in droves to volunteer to assist in any way possible?  The phone is not ringing off the hook because the President lacks foreign policy credibility.

Third, President Obama unilaterally established a “redline” on what appears to have been a whim.  This is too weak a justification for Congress to support his crusade.  Obama needs to convey a strong overall strategy for the region.  The one he appeared to have depended and relied upon all of the wrong allies.

Fourth, Assad will cause Syria to collapse on its own.  If the U.S. to meddles now, it only delays the inevitable.  Let nature follow its course, let Syria resolve its internal affairs on its own, and then be ready to assist in the post-Assad rebuilding process.  Our nation can be there for Syria’s reformation, based on principles of economic prosperity, without the stain of having bombed or destroyed one building within its borders.

No website launched yet.

State Senator Mimi Walters


State Senator Mimi Walters

I am highly skeptical of President Obama’s plan to attack Syria. While I abhor the use of chemical weapons, I am not yet convinced that we should put our men and women in uniform in harms way when the President has still not explained the national security goals of the attack, the consequences on the ground in Syria or even the actual military goal. So at this point, I would be a NO vote.

Link to Walters campaign website.


Carl DeMaio

Carl DeMaio

Tonight, President Obama will make his case directly to the American people to strike Syria with a limited missile attack. After years of watching the conflict intensify, the President made a campaign promise last year that he would act if chemical weapons were used in Syria.

The President is now proposing the U.S. attack Syria nearly alone and in a conflict where both sides are now demonstrating hostility to U.S. interests. The President has failed to make a case that his plan for a military strike inside Syria is in the best interest of our national security. Ironically, the President’s plan will actually make the situation worse. I am not confident that the President understands the complexities of what could take place if Syria or Iran join the fight after a U.S. assault.

The President’s primetime nationwide speech comes at a time when our representatives in Washington, DC have been hearing from everyday Americans and their overwhelming desire to reject the President’s planned military strikes. Sadly, there are still members of Congress that haven’t heard the loud and clear message from their constituents that the President’s plan should be rejected. Some elected officials from California are still “undecided” as to what to do. Politicians that behold to their political party’s leadership should be rejected, too, especially when it comes to issues of national security.

Assuming a national security case could even be made to strike Syria, the U.S. Congress should always insist on a clear plan for long-term success before granting such authority to the President. I would vote NO on the President’s request to Congress to approve these military strikes.

Link to DeMaio campaign website.

Kirk Jorgensen

Kirk Jorgensen

Based on the information I currently have available, I would not vote for a resolution authorizing U.S. military involvement in Syria at this time.  To date, President Obama has failed to state the objective and appropriate course of military action to warrant my support. 

Nonetheless, I firmly believe that rogue dictators who use chemical weapons must be held accountable, and I would authorize military involvement if the President can articulate the following:

  1. How Assad and the chain-of-command that authorized the release of chemical weapons will be held accountable.
  2. How we prevent chemical weapons within Syria from falling into the hands of al Qaeda, other terrorist groups, and rogue nations.
  3. A credible end-state that defines the level of degradation needed to prevent future chemical attacks by the Syrian regime.

The safety of our troops and our national security is at stake if we do not stand up to tyrants who employ weapons of mass destruction. If our President presents a credible objective and clearly defines our goals, then the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime justifies swift U.S. military involvement.

No other country has the will or capability to hold Assad accountable.  If not us, then who?  If we don’t act when faced with evidence of chemical weapons and the brutal killing of more than 1,400 men, women and children, then when do we act?  However, our Congress must demand a legitimate plan of action prior to authorizing military involvement in Syria.

Link to Jorgensen campaign website.

It is our hope that all of these candidates will release these statements to their supporters, the media, and through social media channels (with a plug for the FlashReport!).

Disclaimer: In some cases we pulled a candidates photo off of the web.  If we pulled any sort of official government photo, that’s on us.