By MICHAEL C. BAILEY
When it came time to start thinking about the 2012 elections, Christopher Sheldon decided to look around and check out the potential field of Republican candidates.
What he quickly learned was that the prospects were few and far between. “I started looking at this race about 12 months ago, trying to find a great candidate,” he said, and in meeting with potential candidates, “time and time again, the response was exactly the same: ‘I’m not interested in running, haven’t heard of anyone who is, if you find someone, let me know’.”
After six months of dead-ends, Mr. Sheldon said people started to suggest that he run for Congress, so in March he formally launched his campaign, and he’s betting his professional background will strike a chord with voters.
“I think [voters] are going to look at me and say, ‘This is a guy who’s really different and perhaps even more qualified than anyone we’ve seen in this area in a long time’,” he said, “and I think that’s something that’s going to excite them, and that that’s really where I differentiate and distinguish myself from my potential opponents.”
Mr. Sheldon is running in the Republican primary against Adam G. Chaprales of Marstons Mills. The winner of that race will face the winner of the Democratic primary between C. Samuel Sutter and the de facto incumbent, Congressman William R. Keating (D).
Rep. Keating currently represents the 10th District, which is being eliminated as part of the decennial redistricting process. Portions of the 10th District, including the Cape and Islands, will be rolled into a new Ninth District that also includes the New Bedford area, which is currently part of the Fourth District.
Mr. Sheldon said he viewed the Ninth as a “50 – 50 district, one that could go either way” in terms of whether voters chose a Democrat or a Republican, and he hoped voters will choose to break up the Democratic lock on the state’s Congressional delegation (all 10 Massachusetts Congressman are Democrats).
The Springfield native and current South Plymouth resident touted his extensive and varied private sector experience as a key component of his candidacy. Following his graduation from Syracuse University, he joined the New York-based Worldco Financial Services as a logistics coordinator, and later spent several years with the company as an equities and derivatives trader. The company dissolved in 2003 and he joined the Florida-based iHealth and led the consumer goods company’s sales and marketing department.
After obtaining his Master of Business Administrations from the University of Florida, Mr. Sheldon became a consultant for — and still works with — AlixPartners in New York and Bridge Strategy Group in Chicago, as well as for businesses in the health care, utility, and manufacturing sectors.
Mr. Sheldon believed that voters will find his résumé an appealing change of pace from the professional politician environment that dominates Congress. “Folks are tired of business as usual, they’re tired of professional politicians, they’re tired of people – by people I mean politicians – not taking on the tough challenges, the tough decisions,” he said. “They want somebody with a business background…I think that is unique to my candidacy.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Sheldon is emphasizing the economy in his platform, with an eye toward improving the business climate locally and nationally. “I would like to see this country move in a more business-friendly direction,” he said, explaining that increasing government regulations, operational costs, and a corporate tax rate that is not competitive in the global market are conspiring to drive businesses overseas.
In 2012 the United States’ combined corporate tax rate (which includes federal, regional, and local taxes) stood at 39.2 percent, and until March was the second-highest combined rate in the world behind Japan (which dropped to 38.01 percent). The top federal corporate tax rate is 35 percent.
“We’re simply not competitive,” he said, and what the nation is experiencing now in the “flight of capital or the non-return of capital” to other countries is reminiscent of what happened in the 1950s, when businesses began to leave urban areas for outlying suburbs.
“If you go back into the fifties, you see cities believing, ‘We can make these decisions about our local city property tax rates and income tax rates and nobody will ever leave the city. This is the economic hub of our state’,” he said, but those high costs drive capitalists out, and businesses followed soon thereafter.
To reverse this trend, Mr. Sheldon said he would push for a corporate tax rate of 25 percent for large corporations, “and we need consider and at least have a healthy debate on eliminating corporate taxes for small and medium-sized businesses…and we need to consider eliminating corporate income taxes for new businesses, to try to encourage investors and new businesses.”
Mr. Sheldon also wants to greatly simplify the federal tax code, which he described as “convoluted” and “completely unwieldy,” to get rid of special interest-driven deductions and exemptions; and sustain the Bush Tax Cuts for all income levels.
“I don’t think our economy is in a position to really absorb any major shocks right now,” he said. “We’ve created an economy that’s fragile enough that we shouldn’t be messing with it right now.”
While the Ninth District would benefit from such actions in the form of increased tourism spurred by greater economic prosperity, Mr. Sheldon said the district needs industry-specific relief, namely from federal regulations that dampen the fishing industry.
“That is our greatest asset, our coastline,” he said, “so we need to make sure we protect the coastline environmentally…and we need to allow for the continued development of coastal businesses like fishing.”
Through these economic stimuli strategies, he said, the nation can recoup some of the revenue lost through cuts and tax reduction in the form of income and payroll taxes paid by employees and employers as the job market expands. “It’s a lot more powerful to have a growing economy, to have people working, than it is to sit around complaining companies aren’t paying enough in taxes,” he said.
However, Mr. Sheldon said spending cuts must also be part of the equation, and politicians on both sides must be prepared to make sacrifices. “We need to take a step back to try to figure out what out priorities are, try to figure out the things that have to be done versus the things we’d really like to be done, and make some tough decisions,” he said. “I don’t think that any organization at the government level is off the table.”
He included Social Security, and he faulted Rep. Keating for failing to address the issue. “He absolutely refuses to acknowledge that there’s any issue,” Mr. Sheldon said, stating that the Congressional Budget Office has projected bankruptcy for the program by 2031.
(The CBO predicted in 2011 that Social Security will exhaust a $2.5 trillion surplus by 2037. It expects to begin tapping into the surplus in 2018, and once the surplus is drained, assuming the system has not been reformed by then, the program’s annual revenue will be sufficient to cover 75 to 80 percent of its obligations. Rep. Keating has opposed raising the retirement age and privatizing the program.)
A middle ground solution for reducing government expenditures Mr. Sheldon hopes to play a role in implementing is in the elimination of fraud and wasteful government spending, although he admitted that might be a considerable challenge. “It’s weird. Everybody agrees we should get rid of fraud, waste, and abuse,” he said, “but for whatever reason, when you point to wherever you think that there’s fraud, waste, and abuse, then all of a sudden you get an outcry, even though everybody internally and externally agree it exists.”
Mr. Sheldon also expected to realize savings through the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare,” and maintained the a full repeal would be necessary before the government made a new attempt at meaningful health care reform.
“What we have there is a giant bill with a ton of uncertainty, but one that didn’t really address the issues that they said it was going to address, which is lowering our overall health care costs and making sure that everybody gets covered and making sure people get to keep their plans,” he said. “It doesn’t address the two major issues that we have with health care in the country today, which is a lack of transparency and a lack of competition…the ACA did not accomplish that on any level.”
Because of the bill’s complexity, Mr. Sheldon said it could not be amended piecemeal without risking unintended consequences to other parts of the law. “There’s just too much there in the ACA for us to peel it all back one piece at a time,” he said, “and make some subtle tweaks and changes…what is relatively easy to do is to get rid of stuff cleanly, and it’s a lot cleaner to get rid of the ACA and start over.”
To learn more about the candidate, visit Mr. Sheldon’s official campaign website at www.electsheldon.com.
Other Issues At A Glance
Wants greater energy independence in the U.S. but wants the free market rather than the government to decide which energy sources are best for the country.
The Middle East
Supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine; thinks America should not have an “occupying presence” in the Middle East or engage in nation-building, but should retain enough military presence to address security threats; supports troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“This decision should ultimately be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor,” he said, but wants to reduce abortions performed in the U.S.; opposes federal funding for abortion services, which he said should be covered entirely by the patient and/or her insurance.
Marriage is primarily a religious issue, not a government issue, Mr. Sheldon said, but states should decide on who may be legally married through direct voter input rather than court action; supports a repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
“Unequivocally” supports the right to own firearms, does not believe “responsible citizens” should be restricted in their gun ownership.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.