Meet Tom Prigg, the Democrat Looking to Challenge GOP for PA’s 12th District
Spend five minutes talking to Tom Prigg and you will understand why he is so passionate about representing Pennsylvania’s conservative 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Prigg is a husband, father, scientist and Democrat with a middle class background. And he believes that helps him understand how voters in the middle class district feel.
He is a veteran in a district dominated by veterans and his daughter is currently serving in the Middle East.
He says his family’s military background gives him an edge over his Democratic opponents, and the Republican currently representing the district, Congressman Keith Rothfus.
But perhaps the attribute that makes him most aptly suited to represent the district is that he grew up in the area, and fully understands the district he is trying to represent.
He is no carpetbagger.
“My military experience allows me to think of the consequences of our military actions. What it means, not just in terms of human life which is very important, but also the economic impact and the geo-political dominoes that will fall as a result of our actions,” Mr. Prigg told The Liberal Advocate News this week.
He said it is important to look at the broader picture as we make decisions as a nation.
“A lot of times, we forget that those events will forever, change the future and direction of those countries. We fail to think of those political and societal issues, the economic issues and what that will mean later,” he said.
He said that because of his military background, he is continually thinking about issues affecting military families.
“We talk about soldier PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) but only from the American soldier PTSD point of view. How about the citizens? How are they affected? How about the people in the region? It’s not just what the bombs blew up, not just with the economy wrecked. We also have to consider their mindset and the psychological impact on the coming leaders of those countries.”
The husband and father is confident that his message will resonate in a district that have gone solid Republican in the last few elections.
“It is about the stories you tell. It also comes down to my experience. I have been unemployed before and I’ve been in blue collar jobs as I was growing up.”
“People understand that today, they are getting the short end of the stick. They are not treated well by the corporations. They know their wages have gone down, that it has become harder and harder to pay for things.”
“They know they are under constant attack and that their jobs are leaving for other countries,” he added.
Prigg said the issues he is concerned about are bread and butter issues that affect everyone no matter their party affiliation.
“These are not Republican or Democratic issues. These are issues every family faces today,” he said.
He considers his views to be in line with majority of the residents of the district whether they identify as Republicans, Democrats or Independents.
“Whether you look at it philosophically or in terms of economics, I believe I am in line with 99% of the people of the district. There is this other 1% that currently benefit from the current situation but the fact is that majority of us don’t, and everyone knows it,” he added.
His potential Republican opponent, Representative Keith Rothfus’ approval numbers from recent polls are very low but Tom Prigg says the poll numbers do not necessarily tell the whole story.
“The numbers do not really tell the story as it is. For one thing, he (Congressman Rothfus) is known as one of the bottom ten congressmen in Washington, by all objective measures.”
‘These objective measures are based on the kinds of bills he passes. I don’t think he has a single bill himself as the primary author. It is also about the kinds of bills he signs on with.”
Mr. Prigg said the reason Republicans find Congressman Rothfus valuable is the congressman’s position on the Finance Committee, not because he is an effective representative.
“He has strong ties with the finance, oil and gas sectors so he brings in a lot of money for the (Republican) party. That is why he is valuable to them not because he is an effective congressman or representative,” Prigg added.
He lamented that the 12th district is deteriorating and Congressman Rothfus isn’t doing anything about it.
“In the district, he is not well liked even by his constituents who voted for him because he doesn’t do anything for the area.”
“District 12 is deteriorating and like I was saying, people know it. People see that things aren’t improving. He gets elected mostly because he is a Republican.”
Mr. Prigg said election results tend to tilt towards Republicans because the district is the second highest concentration of veterans in the country, behind the district in San Diego.
“But Congressman Rothfus has never gone against a veteran. I am a veteran. My daughter is in the military and my father is a Vietnam veteran. So once I start pulling away the veterans, I pull away his real support,” Tom Prigg said.
An avid climber who has scaled Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, Mt. Blanc du Tacul in France and a building in Pittsburg as a stunt for a 2013 film, Mr. Prigg knows that going against the GOP in 2018 will not be easy.
He told the media earlier this year that he understands it is a daunting task.
“People I talk to are like, ‘This is really daunting.’ And it is,” said Mr. Prigg, adding that pundits who write off Democrats in the district “aren’t listening to the people. People want to earn a livable wage, better prospects for their children, equal opportunity for higher education and careers later on.”
Mr. Prigg said if elected to U.S. House, he will be in favor of impeachment and possibly imprisonment of President Donald Trump if he is found guilty of criminal behavior.
“Yes. Oh Yes. I think beyond impeachment, I’d say imprisonment if he is found to be treasonous. I will absolutely, as a congressman support life imprisonment. I will make that motion,” he said.
“We cannot have political leaders committing treasonous acts. He will be not just an example, but a justifiable example,” he added.
He called the recent decision by President Donald Trump to get the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, joining only Nicaragua and Syria as non-members, “short-sighted.”
“His decision is short-sighted. I think it is obviously the worst thing we can be doing. Climate change is and has always been out of control. For all we know, we have already crossed a tipping point.”
“It is just a terrible decision. Just short-sighted.” He added.
Besides military issues, Tom Prigg is also interested in tackling criminal justice reforms, civil rights and social justice, student dept issues, universal healthcare as a right, women’s rights, political corruption, workers rights and issues affecting older Americans, among others.
Prigg is currently a brain researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.
To support the Tom Prigg campaign, go to his website.
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