Former state senator and frequent Republican challenger John Carroll is back for another race, this time pitting himself against former Gov. Linda Lingle for the GOP nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat.
Carroll, 82, continues to practice law while running his campaign for the congressional post. He said he sees three top issues facing Hawaii that are important in the upcoming election.
“For me, it happens to be the state of the economy, the number of homeless and unemployed and the lack of leadership,” Carroll said.
In particular, he cited Lingle, who left the state in distress after two gubernatorial terms. He said his previous legislative experience — four terms in the state House and one term in the state Senate — as well as military experience, and domestic and international business experience, put him ahead of Lingle and the leading Democratic candidates.
He said he’ll vote across party lines, something he learned to do during his time in the Hawaii Legislature in the 1970s.
“I worked very well with the Democrats to get my stuff passed,” he said.
His bills included protections for green sea turtles, a clean water act and measures to promote ocean thermal, geothermal, wind and solar energy production via tax benefits.
“The people in this state are fed up with the money they have to pay for government to operate,” Carroll said. “With the loss of the SuperFerry, furlough Fridays, the cost of living, these are all things people are looking at pretty closely.”
He’s a big proponent of eliminating the Jones Act restrictions on Hawaii. The act, enacted in the 1920s, requires any ship traveling between U.S. ports to be American-owned, -flagged and -crewed. The act prevents an Asia-based ship headed to the United States with cargo, say cars, from stopping in Hawaii along the way and unloading the cars local dealers have ordered before continuing on to the mainland.
“The climate for business here is the worst in the world,” Carroll said. “We need to get the climate, with respect to shipping, up to speed with every other country in the world.”
It’s a constitutional issue, he added.
“With no highways or railroads, we’re unconstitutionally constrained from doing business around the world,” he said. “We can be a trade center for around the world.”
Getting rid of the Jones Act wouldn’t just provide economic stimulus by lowering the cost of bringing products to the islands, he said. Hawaii would also be able to more easily market its produce around the world. On one trip, he said he paid $45 for a California cantaloupe. What would someone pay for a Hawaiian mango, he asked.
He’d like to see protection in place for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The problems facing Social Security, he said, stem from federal officials “using it as a buffer for a lot of people who didn’t pay into it.”
Carroll said he would support cuts to the Farm Bill, noting that some of the subsidies “are ridiculous,” particularly “paying people not to plant.”
Defense spending and foreign aid are also places for spending cuts. Carroll, a Korean War veteran, said he endorsed Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. Carroll holds several of the same positions regarding military spending and aid as Paul, a Libertarian, including criticism of what they said was a war begun without Congressional authorization and the wastefulness of some foreign aid.
Carroll specifically cited money sent to Pakistan, Egypt and Israel as examples of such wasteful aid.
He proposed changes to the Akaka Bill, which would give Native Hawaiians federal recognition.
“The Native Hawaiians were recognized long, long ago,” he said. “They had a constitution, a bicameral legislature, tri-level courts, treaties.”
To have two countries in as small of a land mass as Hawaii is “absurd,” he said. And it goes against what Hawaii’s original lawmakers intended, based on the Hawaiian kingdom’s original constitution, he added.
“They went out of their way to say everybody’s equal,” Carroll said.