A former staff member for U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert is seeking to represent the 1st Congressional District, which includes Tyler and Longview.
Republican Aditya Atholi said that rather than being a lawyer or politician running for Congress, his time in the oilfield makes him a “roughneck for Congress.”
Gohmert, R-Tyler, recently announced he is challenging Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in March’s Republican primary.
“This isn’t about winning another office, but the direction the country is going in right now is unsustainable,” he said.
Having worked under Gohmert as a staff assistant after college, Atholi said he has a good relationship with Gohmert and respects him.
He added that there are, “some things I disagree with in how he does things, but in general I like the way he votes — very conservative just like me.”
Some of Atholi’s other political experiences include working in the Texas Economic Development office under former Gov. Rick Perry.
Atholi grew up and graduated from high school in Center. He continued his education at Rice University, where he studied government and managerial studies, earning his degree in 2009.
Toward the end of his college career, he said he knew he wanted to go into the Marines. Before becoming a Marine, Atholi worked not only for Gohmert but also briefly in several blue collar jobs and in the oilfield as a roughneck for seven years.
Having worked in numerous different fields, Atholi said he “understands people.” These experiences, especially in the oilfield, showed him there is a disconnect in the country, especially around those who attended big universities versus those who did not go to college.
“You ask any historian, the demise of any empire of any kind, in any culture, in history is inequality,” Atholi said. “When the rich have way too much and everyone else doesn’t, that tears society apart.”
While he was able to attend college, his work experience allowed him to recognize this disconnect, and if he were elected for Congress, he would work to change this, Atholi said. The government is made up of too many lawyers and politicians, he added.
“Our Congress was meant to reflect the citizenry of America,” he said. “It was not meant to be all lawyers.”
He added that he does not feel that a systemic tear down of the country is necessary, but the United States is on a decline.
Atholi said the direction of the country can be fixed with a plan, which is local self-government.
Trust needs to be put back into the people in order to bring the country back to local self government as the Founders intended, he said. At this point, there is too much power in Washington D.C., Atholi added.
“I think the only way you solve it is you have to get D.C. to do less because all the arguments we’re having right now all come down to crony capitalism,” Atholi said.
The Democratic and Republican parties are in what he described as a “toxic” relationship. Neither can agree and solve middle-class problems such as the rise in health care prices, lack of good public schools, lack of career jobs and more, he said.
Atholi said the simple, but not easy, solution is that, “We need to rebrand the Republican party from the party of small government … to the party of local government.”
“It’s the exact same thing, but the difference is that it simplifies what the Republican Party stands for,” he said. “We stand for local governing in almost any issue you can think of, and now, how to conservatively explain what we want to do is simple.”
The Republican Party is on the defensive as the party of small government, slowing down what Democrats want to do but not making big changes once it has the opportunity, he said. Republicans need to become offensive with local self government and make changes happen.
Atholi gave the example of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. He said Republicans didn’t like it, but they didn’t know what to replace it with. However, simply put, Republicans wanted to return to a free market on a national level, give block grants to the states and the states could design programs to help people as they see fit, he said.
Making what conservatives want super simple will allow ideas to spread, and pressure will be put on Congress to make it happen, he said.
“If a single person can tell me why the plan will not work to help bring conservative values back to America, we’re going to stop the campaign, that’s all it’s about,” Atholi said.
Issues that he wants to focus on include economy and job creation, border security, gun rights, taxes, spending, term limits in Congress and regulations.
To learn more about Atholi and platform, go to atholiforcongress.com .