In today’s unpredictable climate, some may think that that leaving a multi-million dollar business venture for the volatile political arena would be unwise.
“You hit the nail on the head with that one,” joked Republican Senate candidate Barry Hinckley, who is leaving behind the Bullhorn Software company he founded in pursuit of the United States Senate.
A first-time candidate, Hinckley hit the trail early, and has already been campaigning for seven months. He rode his bike through the state, talking about key issues in his candidacy, and on Sunday knocked on more than 100 doors in Johnston. Based on voter reaction so far, he is confident that a newcomer has a real chance at taking down Whitehouse, who has served in the Senate since 2007, after a five-year stint as the state’s U.S. attorney and a four-year run as Attorney General.
“People are dying for a change. They realize we need a new generation of new faces. A vote for Sheldon Whitehouse is a vote for the status quo,” he said.
Hinckley fears that the status quo will leave the country worse off than it is now. That fear prompted him to run.
“I got to the point where I saw nothing happening and, as a parent, I feel that it’s my responsibility to make sure that my children have the same opportunity that I had, and I don’t see that happening right now,” he said. “I’m going to take a risk for my state, my country and my family to make a difference.”
Hinckley pledges that a vote for the new guy is a vote for significant change. At the top of his list is a Balanced Budget Amendment, implementing term limits and revising the nation’s tax code.
The 45-year-old Hinckley has spent his personal money lobbying to revise the nation’s 80,000-page tax code, which he believes is too cumbersome. He pointed to big businesses that pay relatively no taxes on massive income amounts, because they have lawyers that can navigate the system and use the code to their advantage.
“It’s criminal that this tax code is in place,” he said. “Small businesses pay taxes because they don’t have the money to pay for fancy lawyers. We need a fairer, simpler tax code. I have a lot of experience in tax reform.”
Fairer would include cracking down on those who do not pay taxes.
“We don’t need more taxes; we need more taxpayers. We don’t have enough people pulling the wagon,” he said.
Taxes are as much a state issue as a national issue. When asked why Hinckley chose to go for a federal office rather than start locally, he said he believes starting at the top would impact government at all levels.
“If I can lead by example and reform taxes at the federal level, Rhode Island will follow,” he said. “Washington, D.C. has not been living within its means in many decades.”
Streamlining regulations and making America more business-friendly is what he believes will bring jobs back and ultimately put the economy back on track.
“We need to deregulate. We need to make America the most competitive team in the world,” he said.
Hinckley considers education to be an important component in making the state and country competitive. He has two children, both of whom he chooses to send to private schools.
“Our schools are failing so badly in Rhode Island that if you can afford it, you send [your kids] to private school,” he said. “I believe in public schools but public schools should have to compete to educate our children. It’s just like any other market.”
He is a supporter of school choice, or vouchers that allow families to decide where to educate their children, rather than have it determined for them based on location.
“More competition will lower the cost of education and bring up the quality. We need more diversity in education; this one size fits all doesn’t set up each of our youth for success,” Hinckley said. “If we are undereducating our youth, businesses won’t move here.”
Job creation is another component in rebuilding the economy. Ask Hinckley about economic development, and he’ll quickly point out that he has real experience in creating jobs. Bullhorn employs 150 people, and his family is one and the same with Hinckley Yachts, which has been building boats since 1928.
“I’ve got a lot of experience in creating jobs. I know what goes into making a job; I know the formula.”
Referring to career politicians, he added, “None of them have ever created one job and that, to me, is a pretty glaring reason we’re in the situation we’re in. The government can temporarily create jobs but ultimately, that temporary job creation creates a hangover. Sustainable, wealth-creating jobs always come from the private sector. The only way out of the mess we’re in, is to re-grow the private sector.”
In other words, Hinckley is an advocate for smaller government. Diminishing the role of government goes back to his demand for term limits. He will limit himself to two terms and, if he is successful in his campaign, plans to introduce term limit legislation immediately.
“It’s very important to have representation of the people. The longer you’re in Washington, D.C., the more you become disjointed from the people,” he said.
Medicare is an example that Hinckley believes shows a lack of political will. He does not think that Medicare is sustainable as it stands now, but he doesn’t see any politicians stepping up to make the hard choices. He likened Medicare reform to pension reform that Rhode Islanders are just now confronting.
“You can be a coward and not lead and watch this thing come to disaster, but doing nothing would be irresponsible. You have to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse and you also have to decide what we can afford,” he said.
All of this, he says, goes back to leaving the country in better shape for the next generation.
“It’s our duty, as Americans, to pass a country to our children that has money in the bank and not our debts. I’ve never met someone who has planned their will to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to their kids,” he said. “What we’re doing now is immoral.”
Before many candidates have even decided whether or not they will run, Hinckley can already say the experience is the most rewarding of his life.
“I’ve gotten out and met real Rhode Islanders and it’s really encouraging to meet so many amazing people who care. It’s been empowering,” he said. “I’m so confident we’re going to beat this guy.”
For more information on Barry Hinckley’s campaign, visit www.hinckleyforsenate.com.