Former Cato Intern Spreading Liberty in Arizona

By Ilya Shapiro

The point of our internship program is, of course, to spread the ideas of liberty in all the various realms of human endeavor these young people go on to pursue.  Well, it seems that one former Cato intern has gotten himself hired as the policy director to a congressional candidate who’s talking a good game with respect to limited government, bringing fiscal conservatism to the Republican Party, etc. 

Adam Kwasman, who went on to study economics and law at George Mason University, worked for my boss, Roger Pilon, at our Center for Constitutional Studies several years ago, before I came to Cato.  I’ve gotten to know Adam socially and was intrigued to hear that he’s now working for Jesse Kelly, a young (thirty-something) Marine combat veteran and businessman now running for Congress in Arizona’s 8th district. 

I actually met Kelly once and was impressed with how forthrightly he spoke not only about “limited government” generally — any politician can mouth that — but about constitutional protections for liberty, such as Article I’s enumerated powers and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Adam tells me that Kelly’s been known to reference Locke, Jefferson, Hayek, and Friedman at house parties and fundraisers alike.  Heady stuff from a politician!

The Arizona 8th, which covers part of Tucson and the extreme southeast of the state, is currently represented by Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.  Giffords won in this traditionally Republican district in 2006 when the GOP fielded a candidate too socially conservative for this libertarian area.  Though she was reelected in 2008, John McCain carried the district 52-46.  Giffords is considered to be vulnerable; while apparently a member of the “Blue Dog” caucus, she voted for TARP, the stimulus, Obamacare, and cap-and-trade, and has a D+ rating from the NRA.

And so the 2010 election should be an opportunity for a libertarian Republican like Kelly.  In the Republican primary, Kelly will likely be facing state senator Jonathan Paton, who has received C and B- grades the last two years from the Goldwater Institute (including a D on regulation) and has been called a “Friend of Big Government” by Americans for Prosperity.

This will definitely be a race I’ll be watching next year, and I’m glad Adam will be in the thick of it to provide an inside scoop.  If Jesse Kelly is as good as he talks and writes, this will be a great opportunity to spread our message of liberty to a parched land.

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