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Three years after the 9/11 attacks, Allen Chesser convinced his mom to sign a waiver so he could enlist in the Army at age 17. He credits the same sense of duty with launching his congressional campaign.
“I saw a problem and I only saw one solution,” Chesser said, “and I didn’t want to wait for anyone else to do it.”
A military and law enforcement veteran, the 32-year-old Chesser is challenging U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh in the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary. Holding, 50, is a former federal prosecutor seeking his fourth consecutive term on Capitol Hill.
Chesser shared his message of limited government, individual rights and Christian principles with Wilson County GOP members and guests Monday evening. The local party held a social at the Wilson Elks Lodge to celebrate unaffiliated conservative Ken Fontenot’s successful ballot access petition drive for N.C. House District 24.
Chesser deployed to Iraq in 2005 and “engaged the enemy over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” He said his experience as a soldier has prepared him for service in the U.S. House.
“That was my introduction to selfless service, and that’s what I think is lacking in Washington right now,” he said. “We don’t have selfless service in Washington — we have selfish service. ‘What can I do to benefit me? What can I do to win re-election? How can I manipulate this vote to where it looks like I did something for the people when I really didn’t?’
“We don’t have warriors that stand in the gap to defend the people who put them there. That’s what I want to do. I want to be the shield that stops government from overwhelming the people and continuing to grow at the rate that it’s growing.”
After his stint in the Army, Chesser worked as a police officer in Nags Head and Raleigh. He, his wife Jessica and their four children live near Spring Hope.
Chesser said some in his church avoided politics, but he found 15 Bible verses commanding Christians to take an active role in secular government. After sharing that message during a Wednesday night service, he felt the call to run for office.
“A conviction hit me when I told somebody we can’t stand and say there’s a void of leadership over there and sit in the pew and expect someone else to fix it,” he said. “I can’t stand there and see a void of leadership and not to anything.”
‘UPGRADE’ OVER HOLDING
Chesser said he noticed a void in the 2nd Congressional District’s leadership. On his campaign website, he notes that Holding pledged to fight special interests but has received nearly $790,000 in contributions from political action committees.
Touting high survey scores from the National Rifle Association, Grass Roots North Carolina, Numbers USA and the Campaign for Liberty, Chesser said he’s the principled conservative the district needs.
“I’m an upgrade,” he said. “Everything you guys like, you’ll get it. All the stuff you don’t like about the current situation, check me out. Where we’re different, you’ll like it.”
Chesser said he takes the U.S. Constitution and its guarantees of free speech and individual rights seriously.
“I’m a huge constitutionalist,” he said. “I push individual liberties over collectivism. Right now, that’s the greatest threat to our country, guys, is collective rights. Where is that in the Constitution? We’ve got to protect individual rights. I’ve got to protect your right to say something that I disagree with so that I have the right to say something that you disagree with.”
PLEDGING TO SERVE
Chesser created an 11-point plan to improve veteran care and publicly signed the document on Veterans Day 2017. He’s also inked a term-limits pledge guaranteeing he will serve no more than 24 years in the House and Senate — though he said even that amount of time is too long.
“I’m not going up there to just stay up there and encompass myself with power and authority like they do now, get on committees and just keep raking it in so that I can keep adding to a paycheck,” he said. “It’s not a retirement plan, guys, it’s a service.”
Chesser opposes abortion and wants to defund any group that provides abortions or profits from them. He says secure borders are part and parcel of national security, Congress needs to rein in debt and deficit spending and the government lacks authority to limit Second Amendment rights.
He supports industrial hemp and predicts cultivation of the fibrous plant will bring “hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars” to North Carolina farmers. Constituent services are also a cornerstone of his message.
“We have to continue to serve one another, that’s what it’s about,” Chesser said. “It’s not about you guys voting for me and serving me. That seems to be the hierarchy that we now have in government. It’s about you guys trusting me enough to allow me to serve you. That’s what I want to take to Washington.”