Patriot Prayer leader will challenge Sen. Maria Cantwell
VANCOUVER — Joey Gibson knows he’s facing an uphill battle. Maria Cantwell has served as Washington’s junior senator since 2001, and defeated her most recent Republican challenger, Michael Baumgartner, by more than 20 percentage points in 2012.
But a lot has changed since then — Donald Trump was elected president, just to name one. Trump’s surprising election victory in November of 2016 changed the political landscape, and Gibson is hoping to ride that wave to Washington D.C.
At an event attended by around 100 people on Sunday evening, the 33-year old Gibson stood in front of a U.S. flag and announced he would take on Cantwell this coming November. He tells ClarkCountyToday.com he never planned to become a politician, and saw himself only as a ‘’cultural leader.’’
“God kind of took me through a weird process of realizing that I didn’t want to run because I didn’t want the responsibility,’’ Gibson said. “I was waiting for someone else to stand up, and you can’t do that … all of us need to step forward (and) stand up for what we believe in.’’
As for what Gibson believes in, he says his first push will be for term limits in Congress.
“I think over 70 percent of the country agrees that we need term limits,’’ he said. “I’m going to continue to push that because it has to be a cultural revolution in order to get these congressmen and congresswomen to actually vote themselves out of office.”
Joey Gibson announces plans to run for U.S. Senate
Video courtesy of YouTube
Gibson also would like to see the IRS abolished in favor of a national sales tax, which he calls a “Fair Tax.’’ That, he says, would simplify a tax code made intentionally complex in order to allow big businesses and billionaires to buy loopholes and exemptions with political donations.
“It would bring back manufacturing,’’ Gibson said. “Made in America would become common again, and all these politicians aren’t going to be worth nearly as much money because they can’t give you loopholes; there’s nothing they can do for you. It would be amazing for our economy.”
The final leg of Gibson’s political platform, he says, would be tackling healthcare costs by going after Big Pharma, though he didn’t detail his plans for dealing with that thorny issue.
Gibson has described himself as a ‘’conservative-libertarian,’’ and says he won’t base his political views around the GOP platform.
“I do believe we need the government for certain things,” he says, “but I also believe the government has gotten out of control … I’m not like, OK, this is what conservatives believe and so this is what I’m going to believe. You know, I’m going to pick and choose different things, the populist type of thing, and just stand on principle and for what I believe in, whether it’s popular or not.”
If Gibson is to pull off the major upset, he is fully aware he’ll have to overcome two major obstacles: fundraising, and the persistent connection between his group and white supremacists. There’s also the shadow of Jeremy Christian, the man accused of killing two men on a MAX Train in Portland, and severely injuring a third, during a confrontation in May of last year. Christian was seen on video attending a Patriot Prayer rally, giving a Nazi salute and shouting “die Muslims!” months before the deadly encounter on the train.
Gibson is quick to point out that he had, himself, been a target of Christian’s anger at previous rallies.
“He’s not even motivated by racism, you know. He’s a socialist, and a Black Lives Matter supporter,’’ Gibson said. “The whole thing is really complicated … They said he was yelling at a Muslim on the Max, but he was actually saying slurs against Muslims and Jews, and Christians. So he was just anti-religious.
“I think the guy’s crazy,’’ Gibson said. “He was upset that we supported Trump. That was his main thing. He had pictures of Trump dressed up like Hitler all over his page, basically because he hated Trump.”
As for other self-professed White Supremacists who’ve shown up at previous Patriot Prayer rallies, Gibson says they leave disappointed.
“I don’t know what else I can do, you know? I’ve disavowed it,’’ Gibson said. “There’s a lot of guys who show up because they hear I’m some racist White Supremacist leader. They show up and they hear me talk about love, and God, and freedom, and it really turns them off.”
While he is quick to separate himself from the hatred many have ascribed to his group and to him personally, Gibson realizes the value of the controversy that has followed his movement.
“Maria Cantwell is going to have to have at least 10 times the amount of money that I need,’’ Gibson said. “She’s lost her spirit, her passion, and so she’s going to have to pay for air time. I believe we’ll get a lot of free air time because I’m younger, I have more passion, I love giving speeches. And then obviously because of what I’ve done in the last year there’s a lot of controversy, and that’s going to equal air time.”
While that may be true, it’s equally true that there’s likely to be a groundswell of opposition to Gibson’s latest endeavor. Last year he was listed as one of the candidates for The Oregonian’s Person of the Year, prompting a number of other candidates to demand that their names be withdrawn, and pushing for a boycott of the paper. Gibson currently is self-employed in the real estate industry buying and renovating houses.
“It gives me the freedom to do what I’ve done,’’ he said. “I am my own boss, no one can go after my job, I make my own hours.”
Gibson says he’s currently working to put a staff together, and planning rallies around the state. As for whether he hopes to gain an endorsement from the president he’s spent so much time and energy supporting:
“That’s up to him,’’ Gibson said. “My focus is to motivate the voters in Washington, so I haven’t really thought about it.”
For more information about Gibson and his campaign, visit his campaign website: https://gibsonforfreedom.com/ .