Northwest Florida received its first Libertarian candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1st District, Calen Fretts, of Valparaiso, who announced his candidacy at Compass Rose Restaurant in Valparaiso Nov. 4. Fretts will face U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, who has run at least two consecutive campaigns with no opposition.
Attending the announcement was an audience of approximately 30-35 Libertarian supporters, family members, campaign staff and the press.
“I believe that (Republican Rep. Jeff) Miller needs some competition, said Karl Denninger, who helped organize the Tea Party. Denninger is a registered Libertarian and will serve as a campaign adviser to Fretts. “That is one reason I support Calen.” Denninger also serves as an economic adviser to Bill Still, a Libertarian Party presidential candidate.
Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County chairman Pete Blome, who will serve as campaign manager for Fretts, said, “Northwest Florida has waited a long time for real political competition.” He said Fretts’ background includes a computer science degree from Virginia Polytechnic, owner of Alpha Web Presence, a small web development company, and Fretts’ current position as vice chairman of The Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County.
Blome said The Libertarian Party’s fundamental principles are individual rights, free markets and limited government.
Fretts made brief remarks to the small crowd.
“The U.S. government is a mess,” he said. “I am fed up with the course this great country has taken and I’m ready to do something about it.
“The Constitution was written with the intent to put chains on the government, restraining it only to a small number of specifically enumerated powers,” Fretts continued. “Now, though, the roles have been reversed.
The government has put the chains on the people and small business with mountains of debt, taxes, authoritarian encroachments, paperwork and bureaucracy.” Fretts said he is “on a mission to reverse that trend, so that my children and grandchildren may enjoy the blessings of growing up in a free society.” Farrah Porter, a newcomer to the Emerald Coast community who lives in Niceville, asked, “Which point do you plan on focusing the most during your campaign?” Fretts restated the Libertarian Party’s fundamental platform and said reducing government debt is a priority.
“Government debt is currently at $16.7 trillion,” he said. “It has tripled in the last 10 years. My opponent has voted to increase it, I believe, every time. That’s something I just won’t do.” Porter said she attended the announcement “because my husband and I have been looking at parties other than Republican and Democrats. We’ve been floating the water’s edge to see where things are settling in America with regard to the parties.” Raymond Allen, a 15-year registered Libertarian from Niceville, asked Fretts, “Do you support the local Tea Party?” “Absolutely,” said Fretts. “The Libertarian principles and the Tea Party have a lot in common with regard to limited government, free market and individual rights.
One distinction, however, is that The Tea Party started off strong, but gradually lost its momentum. Now, it seems to have been taken over by Republican views. The Libertarian party has stayed true.” Fretts said his campaign will “highlight the Libertarian approach to any and all forums that are willing to listen; energize the Libertarian spirit in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Washington counties with an emphasis on helping neighbors and friends; and utilize technology via Facebook, Twitter , YouTube as well as the campaign website frettsforcongress.com.”