Don’t tell Josh Eisen that he doesn’t have a chance to capture the 17th Congressional District seat this fall and succeed 16-term incumbent Nita Lowey.
Eisen, 48, a Harrison Republican, said he was prepared to take on Lowey even if she hadn’t announced her retirement in October because no one from the GOP challenged her in 2016 and 2018 and also because of his concern that Democrats have veered too far to the left.
It’s a sentiment he believes many Democratic voters hold in Westchester and Rockland, and Eisen is banking on winning some of their support in November, against whomever his Democratic opponent may be.
“There are Democrats who believe in the good old-fashioned ideal of dignity and labor, that if one works, they should not have to go to the government for a handout,” said Eisen, who has one Republican committed to run against him in a primary, 24-year-old Yehudis Gottesfeld, of Ramapo. “They believe in choice in healthcare; they do not believe in Medicare for all. Many of them are union people who come from union backgrounds and no union person wants Medicare for all.
“I just think that the left wing of the Democratic Party betrayed a lot of those people who are registered as Democrats and I don’t think there’s a better example of that than the ones who live in Westchester and Rockland.”
Eisen, a businessman who has operated his own companies mainly in the background checks and language services fields, said he is also looking to improve the lives of all residents in the district.
One way to do that is to maintain private health insurance. He argued that as a business owner he has seen those expenses skyrocket since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, mainly because insurance companies don’t like uncertainty.
Eisen argued that the private sector and the government should incentivize citizens who make healthy, responsible choices, such as eating well and exercising regularly.
“We need to focus on good living, healthy living and we need a nation of citizens who are in good health and take care of themselves, and it’s in the national interests to incentivize that living, especially for left-wingers who want to talk about Medicare for all,” said Eisen, who grew up in Queens, graduated from Queens College and has an MBA and a doctorate in religion from Columbia University.
Having been in the background checks business, Eisen is a proponent of universal checks for gun ownership. He said the process is archaic in many areas of the country and the proper use of technology could exponentially speed up that waiting period.
However, Eisen strenuously opposes attempts to takes guns away from law-abiding citizens. He said individual states have the latitude to make laws as their residents see fit, but as a child of Holocaust survivors, that is one of the first steps toward the loss of liberty.
“If people on the left don’t like the Second Amendment, they can try to put together a constitutional convention and we can open up all the amendments,” he said.
On immigration, Eisen said he believes that law-abiding people who have been in the United States for years and whose children and even grandchildren are citizens should be allowed to stay and no longer live in the shadows. The same is true for the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients in the United States.
“A certain number of people just need to be legitimized because that’s the best, pragmatic thing to do and they’re paying taxes, they’re in the system, so it’s much better to go that step,” Eisen said.
He also believes that the law should be changed to allow those seeking asylum to do so on economic grounds since so many refugees flee impoverished nations.
Eisen called limiting the state and local income tax in the 2017 tax bill “a money grab” on the part of states that take more federal dollars, He said he would fight to at least raise the threshold. Eisen also said the government should operate on a balanced budget rather than continuing deficit spending.
Eisen, who is currently the only officially declared Republican to be running in the race, criticized the impeachment process, blaming the Democrats for pressing forward with no bipartisan support. For his part, he called the Clinton impeachment in the late 1990s equally poor.
He declined to answer which Democrats he might like to oppose in November, preferring to focus on the task in front of him.
“I’m going to have to earn it,” Eisen said. “I’m going to put myself in the best position.”