Col. McCalister Gunning for Nelson’s Job
By Zayida Baker
Retired Army Col. Mike McCalister, R-Plant City, is running to replace Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and be “the last line of defense” against politicians who do not properly protect the U.S. and its Constitution.
McCalister spoke June 18 at the Republican Leadership Conference. In November he debated competitors at the Florida Tea Party Convention. In October he greeted a Lakeland convention on Agenda 21, the United Nations’ plan to standardize environmental laws and measures worldwide.
McCalister, an “unapologetic conservative,” gave a characteristically energetic presentation of his candidacy December 13 to the O’Brien Tea Party in O’Brien, Suwannee County.
EDITOR’S NOTE _ The “detractors” link below takes the reader to a page with colorful, but relevant, material.
McCalister had a 33-year military career, paired with work in the healthcare industry, until he retired in 2005. He has a doctorate in business, which he now teaches at the graduate level.
He emphasized his background as a businessman, professor, and former colonel in calling for patent and trade protection for U.S. business, improvement of the education system, and strong national defense.
Accordingly, McCalister warned that cutting spending alone would not restore the country.
He promised to promote smaller government, a pro-business environment, tort reform, the Fair Tax, a balanced-budget amendment, rights of the unborn, border security, and traditional marriage.
McCalister suggested that senators’ unique role in confirming treaties gives them influence over wars and jobs lost overseas.
A believer in the Tenth Amendment, McCalister would trim back federal regulations and agencies such as the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the National Labor Relations Board and public-sector unions, and the EPA. He wants Roe v. Wade reversed and thinks states should be able to protect themselves from illegal immigration.
McCalister will court Florida’s 1.8 million veterans; he believes that the Republican nominee cannot prevail in 2012 without them.
He vowed to “spank” Nelson in the general election.
McCalister repeatedly declined to criticize his Republican opponents, but the Democrat incumbent’s record was “fair game.”
Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry recently called for less infighting among primary contenders.
Although detractors have attacked his service in the Army Reserves, McCalister held his own alongside senior non-Reserves officers in briefing and advising the U.S. Special Operations commander, setting training, managing resources, and preparing testimony for Congress. Superiors recommended a promotion to brigadier general.
He served in the Center for Operations, Plans, and Policy and represented the Special Operations commander on a Pentagon committee to train and transform the Department of Defense.
After declining retirement, McCalister served with Special Operations Command for six years total, including one year of post-9/11 active duty, with a short stint in Southwest Asia as assessment chief for Cobra Gold.
McCalister called Nelson a “flagbearer” for ObamaCare and decried its six-billion-dollar drag on Florida’s budget. He said that it would increase Medicaid spending by 35 percent.
McCalister reviewed the state’s $67 billion budget in a shoestring bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010.
Ray Carlile, head of the O’Brien Tea Party, has not yet endorsed McCalister, whom he calls “a natural-born leader,” but now prefers him as a conservative outsider.
Carlile distrusts Rep. Connie Mack, former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, and former interim Sen. George LeMieux for their establishment ties, noting that “the Republican Party of Florida went out for [Hasner] full bore when he first announced the same as they did [former Gov. Charlie] Crist” in the 2010 Senate race.
Carlile cited businessman and newcomer Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., as a non-establishment model.
Carlile defended McCalister for having a military record, unlike some critics: “Eisenhower . . . was never on the ground, and you can’t say he had nothing to do with World War II. . . . He [was] a planner [like McCalister].” Colonels set supply levels for troops, a necessary function for victory.
Zayida Baker covers Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Steve Southerland for Tea Party Patriots’ Government Accountability Project. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.