Omari Faulkner, GOP U.S. Senate Candidate, Interview
On Friday afternoon, Republican Senate Candidate Omari Faulkner was kind enough to speak with me about his candidacy, the importance of this race, and his thoughts about what governance should be. I found him to be very open, accessible, and confident in his ability to win and to be a representative for all Virginians. I appreciate his time, as well as his openness. When I explained it was not my intention to pepper him with “gotcha” questions, he replied, “I will answer any question you’ve got.”
We discussed a broad range of issues, including the importance of diversity all throughout Virginia. He described it as a “diversity of thought, ability, and industry.”
We discussed the significance of the many candidates that have stepped up to challenge Senator Mark Warner. He said, “Mark Warner is great at branding, but he’s voted with Chuck Schumer almost 100 percent of the time. … He’s anything but moderate.”
My questions and his responses to them are below.
Andrea: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and hobbies?
Omari: I am a businessman first and foremost; I work in the National Security arena, supporting every DOD agency. I am the father of four girls. They are also my hobby. I love being a father to the girls; I coach the girls’ basketball teams and that is something I have enjoyed even throughout this campaign. They are bright, they are fun, and they really inspire me to do everything I do today.
I am a reserve officer for the U.S. Navy Reserves, I’m currently still active, and I’ll remain active, even as a Senator. I’m a former Foreign Service officer, right out of college; I played basketball for Georgetown University. That’s where I graduated from, and that’s also where I met my wife. She is an attorney today; she’s also a stay-at-home-mother for our four girls.
After graduating from Georgetown, President Bush appointed me to be a Sports Envoy for the United States, and that took me to 45 different countries in less than 13 months. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Through my story, I was able to create and establish better relationships and understanding of the people in the United States. A couple of years later, my wife and I were called back into the Foreign Service and we spent two and a half years in Mumbai, India. We wanted to raise our family in the United States, so we came back to Virginia, and this is where we’ve been ever since, and that was 10 years ago.
Why the U.S. Senate and why now?
When you look at what is happening culturally in our country and in Virginia, we have not won a statewide office in more than 10 years. And to your point, the demographics of Virginia are constantly changing from all perspectives. Right now, more than ever, we need a candidate that has a diversity of experiences, both personally and professionally to do this job. We need a multi-faceted candidate and that’s what I am, that’s what I bring to the table. We need to bring people together, even now as we’re trying to unite the Republican Party, bringing in new faces and new voices all based off of our conservative values. Of all the great and wonderful things I think President Trump is doing, he does need help here in Virginia. We need to deliver Virginia for the President, but also to take back what we haven’t had in over 10 years, and that’s what I will do.
What do you consider to be your greatest asset … one that sets you above the crowded field?
The fact that I have local experience, I am a businessman, I have worked on balancing budgets and delivering results. I am a job creator, I have created hundreds of jobs here in Virginia, no one else has done that in this race. I have shown throughout my career that I am able to bring people together and I don’t have to give up my moral compass or my conservative values. I am a unifier and I want to help build this Republican Party so we will be ready to win. We want to refresh the Party throughout Virginia and make sure we’re available 365 days a year, not just during election season.
What issue are you most passionate about … do you have an issue that drives you and why?
One particular issue that drives me is being pro-life. We have to change the conversation in this country, it’s not just being pro-life, but an issue of morality and we have to be able to protect lives at every stage. There are too many kids … that never get the opportunity to see the light of day. I am 100 percent pro-life.
But also important is the issue of the Second Amendment. It protects the rights in all other amendments. I understand this issue is double-sided, but I had two cousins murdered before they were 18, they were murdered by criminals so I understand the importance of being able to protect myself and my family.
Those are two key issues, and a third is our economy. We can’t forget that without a job, people are very vulnerable in this country.
Supporting a pro-growth strategy with limited government is the key tour campaign.
As a Senate candidate, how important is the separation of powers to the structure of our government?
I think it’s very important. When you go back and look at the documents our Founders signed … when you look at the Constitution … that’s foundational to our democracy. We have to make sure that it’s always protected. I think that’s why being a Senator is so important because today there are too many Senators who are using their platform as a marketing tool, they are not legislating, and they’re not doing the job they were sent to Congress to do. That is something I want to return to Virginia; someone who represents all Virginians, and understands the separate powers.
The United States is the Greatest Country in the world. In your opinion, what, if anything should Republicans be doing to preserve the character of our institutions?
In order to preserve that character, it goes back to making sure everyone is doing their job. From a policy perspective, I think something that we have to do, we have to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and we need to do it very soon. We have way too many people undocumented, way too many people coming here illegally and we don’t know they are here. That is why, when you send someone to Washington, you have to know where they stand on these issues.
Follow up question: where do you stand on DACA kids? Do you support some way they can become part of society, out of the shadows without fear?
Every person that is here undocumented, there is going to be some fear, but when we talk about DACA kids, we have to look at each particular case. I have seen people from other countries, who come here to see, touch, and feel what this American dream looks like, but I also know what it looks like for people who come into this country illegally. There are very different situations and that’s also why we must pass very tough immigration reform to protect those institutions you mentioned before.
What should Republicans be doing, if anything, to encourage and mentor the next generation so they have a desire to engage in politics in a positive way?
We should be listening to the next generation, and we should be supporting the next generation. I am the youngest candidate in this U.S. Senate race (38 years old) I have the most business experience, the most global experience, and there are kids who will come up behind my generation. We need to pay more than lip service to the next generation. We need to give them the chance to lead.
His concluding thoughts were “to beat Mark Warner will require someone who has the skills, experience, and ability to win. I am that candidate.”
You can learn more about Omari and his candidacy at his website.
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell (Staunton, Va., March 4, 2020)