Eric Gurr is a 48-year-old Ohioan and a lifelong Republican. He was born and raised in Hamilton, a suburb of Cincinnati. Mr. Gurr is the CEO of a computer consulting firm based in West Chester, Ohio. He is married and has three children as well as two grandchildren. He and his family reside in fast-growing Liberty Township. He has never run for political office before.
Oh, and he just happens to be challenging House Speaker John Boehner in the Republican primary for Ohio’s 8th congressional district.
Mr. Gurr was kind enough to grant yours truly an exclusive interview.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview, Mr. Gurr.
So did you go to college in Ohio? How does your family feel about your decision to run for high public office? What prompted someone who has never run for political office before to decide to challenge one of the most powerful elected officials in the country?
ERIC GURR: I went to college at The University of Cincinnati. I started out in mechanical engineering in 1983, then switched to computer related. I dropped out in ’87 and have worked with computers, programming, and related endeavors since that time.
My family has been very supportive of my decision.
What prompted me to run was the realization that since 2008 Mr. Boehner had slowly pulled away from my views and what I thought was in the best interest of the nation long-term. I was not in favor of the TARP programs and I still think our monetary policy is on the wrong track.
Syria was the tipping point. I thought that war with Syria was a terrible idea. Essentially it is a very high-risk proposition with little or nothing to be gained. I also believe strongly that the immigration bill was a bad bill at the wrong time. It makes no sense at all to add to a workforce burdened by high unemployment and underemployment.
When I started putting all of these things together I realized that Speaker Boehner has just been in Washington too long. Publicly elected servants should serve a few terms and then leave lest they become forever detached from their constituents. Over time this leads to a moderation not only in positions and policy, but in passion for the fight. Inside that beltway, conservative values (both economically and socially) are seen as “extreme.” We as the base of the GOP have no desire nor need to apologize for these conservative principles as they have served the nation quite well for over 200 years.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: What are your thoughts on the multiple scandals that have engulfed the Obama administration – IRS, NSA, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, etc.?
ERIC GURR: The IRS scandal is the biggest scandal to hit this country since Watergate. The most feared institution has been used for political purposes. I find it highly improbable that Ms. Lois Lerner acted of her own volition. I am stunned that the Democrats don’t seem to understand the gravity of this situation. This scandal needs to be investigated until we know absolutely everything.
The NSA is not permitted to spy on citizens without a proper warrant. I think that the Constitution is quite clear on this. I know there are many who say that this invasion of privacy protects us all, but where does that end?
I also believe Benghazi is a real and serious scandal. If we follow the timeline it appears that we first received word of an attack at 10:00 PM. If the State Department didn’t send help they must answer the question: why? The canned response is that the main thrust of the attack happened at 4:00 AM and the forces would not have had time to get there. But there is no way they could have known when the next attack was coming.
Fast & Furious was probably a well-intended venture that spiraled out of hand. But when our own agents are shot with these weapons I think some answers should be expected. The attorney general has some real inconsistencies in his statements to Congress and needs to be brought back on the carpet. If we cannot trust the attorney general to follow the laws, who can we trust?
ROBERT ELLIOTT: How do you feel about the recent efforts of House and (some) Senate Republicans to defund Obamacare?
ERIC GURR: I think Ted Cruz and others supporting him are on the right track. With control of only the House there are few tools left in the tool box. It will be no consolation for Republicans to say in three or four months, “We told you this would happen.”
The bill is axiomatically prevented from working for several reasons. The biggest reason being that there is no addressing of the supply side in the bill. If you want to lower cost while increasing demand for services you must first address the supply. It takes years to become a doctor. So the first portion of a serious bill like this would have been to delay for eight years while you fund an increase in the number of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers and equipment. This bill added an anti-science and anti-technology excise tax of 2.3 percent. If the GOP is somehow successful in the endeavor and at least delays implementation by a year or two the economy will rebound, job growth will ensue, and we will have a clearer picture of what needs to be done to reform existing systems. If some of the old guard in the GOP leadership continue to delay and obfuscate, we’ll never get the opportunity to explain to the American people (the few who still support the bill) how damaging it is to the long term economic viability of the nation.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: Candidates who seek to unseat incumbents are almost always at a financial disadvantage. This is especially true in your case, since you are taking on such a powerful and high-profile incumbent in the Speaker of the House. How much cash do you think your campaign will need to raise in order to mount a credible challenge? And how do you plan to raise it? Have you considered a “money-bomb” type of event?
ERIC GURR: Money is the challenge. I’ve been contacted by people all over the country suggesting a “money bomb” type of event. I have tried to contact a few of the conservative outlets, but have been told I must be “vetted” first. Over the past two weeks I’ve tried to respond to as many online requests as I can and that’s starting to produce. The website gurrforcongress.com is averaging over 300 visits per day. I’ve tried to analyze the situation in the 8th congressional district of Ohio and the good news is that millions of dollars probably won’t be needed. Speaker Boehner can only bombard the voters with so much information. I’ve figured I’ll need about $300,000 to make a serious challenge. Although it sounds like a lot, the reality is if I can get a few thousand people to donate $25 – $50 I’ll be in a strong position. In order to become competitive with his fundraising machine I’ll have to look outside the district. With a solid drive and $100,000 or so I think I can pull that off.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: How do you feel about term limits? If elected, would you pledge to serve only a certain number of terms?
ERIC GURR: I’m in favor of term limits but much more in favor of politicians keeping their word. I would not serve more than four terms and prefer to serve three, then be challenged in a primary to get the word out about new candidates. If you lose, you lose. If not, the next year there are a few candidates the public has come to know who can run for the seat and I would drop out. There is absolutely no chance I would serve more than four [terms]. A citizen legislator must be a citizen first. If you stay in Washington for 15 or 20 years, you have become a professional politician.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: How would you work to tackle the federal budget deficit? Assuming you plan to support spending reductions, are there any areas that you think should be off-limits to cuts?
ERIC GURR: The deficit should be cut in two phases. In the first phase I would propose to Congress cutting 3% across the board with an exemption for Social Security and Medicare. Then I would push hard for a significant cut in the capital gains tax. This tax cut has historically increased revenue. I would also delve deeper into cuts for the EPA, agricultural subsidies, and even the Department of Education. All of these agencies have poor track records recently and have seen their budgets bloated beyond any reasonable level of growth.
Defense spending is worth a look, but I don’t know that I would commit to any cuts at this point. It’s not that I think there isn’t room, it’s just that I know when you have a certain level of access to information you may be inclined to change your views. I am in favor of missile defense but not in favor of a large standing army with bases spread across the world.
The American people have felt the pinch for five years and I think it is time for Washington, D.C. to share in a little of the belt tightening.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: Would your campaign like to communicate a direct message to potential donors and/or Republican primary voters in your district?
Frank Milillo, Eric Gurr’s campaign manager:
As many of you may have heard, Hamilton native Eric Gurr is challenging John Boehner in the May primary for the Ohio 8th district U.S. congressional seat. Many of us have supported Mr. Boehner over the past 20-plus years, but I think many of you now agree it’s time for a change. Eric is a principled conservative and wants to cut spending, lower taxes to promote jobs and economic growth, and put an end to the ill-conceived Obamacare.
It is difficult to defeat a politician as entrenched in Washington culture as Mr. Boehner has become. He has nationwide donations and deep pockets. But we believe the people of Ohio deserve better, and with your donation of as little as $25 we can get the word out and make a hopeful and helpful change for the people of Ohio and the United States of America.
To donate, please visit the campaign website at gurrforcongress.com
Orr if you prefer, you can send a check to:
Gurr For Congress
7182 Liberty Centre Drive, Suite O
West Chester, Ohio 45069