Cumberland Times-News: Senate candidate criticizes partisan politics during city visit

This article appeared in the Cumberland Times-News on April 17, 2018 — click here for the full article.

Neal Simon, independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, said he will not encourage or support partisan politics if elected.

Simon's remarks were made during a visit to Cumberland on Monday.

"I am running to try to help people in this state get ahead, and to try to bring the country together, and to try to change the way Washington works," Simon said. "I envision a future where we actually have representatives who are representing us."

Simon attended a luncheon at Puccini Restaurant at the invitation of Dustin Freas, chief development officer for the Cumberland-based Careventures, a health care provider. The event was attended by numerous members of the local business, government and law enforcement community.

"I am tremendously impressed by Neal (Simon)," Freas said. "I get excited by politics, but not candidates. But, I am excited by what Neal is about. What I like about Neal; it's all about working together. Let's make being an American the most important thing, not the party."

Simon, from Potomac, said he will be traveling the entire state with his campaign.

"I will be in all 24 counties in the next 36 days," Simon said. "I will be back here. This isn't a one-time thing. This part of the state is just as important as every other part of the state."

Simon, 49, has been in private business working for services-related companies, including a stint as CEO of Bronfman Rothschild, an investment firm.

"I was CEO of a company with $6 billion in assets," Simon said. "Before that I ran another couple of businesses. I've always been in professional services. It was working with smart dynamic energetic people with a lot of different ideas and my role was to try to bring them together."

Simon said he likes what Gov. Larry Hogan is doing.

"I support Hogan," Simon said. "I think he has been a uniter for the state. Our politicians are split between dividers and uniters. He has worked across the aisle on a number of issues. He works to get things done. I have a lot of respect for him."

Simon thinks the time is right for an independent candidate to have success in Maryland.

"I'm running for the U.S. Senate and I'm running unaffiliated from any political party," Simon said. "I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat. The reason I'm running, like so many people in this country, I'm frustrated with the partisanship on Capitol Hill and the bad results we get.

"We did our homework on this. Maryland is 58 percent Democratic. Gov. Hogan (a Republican) is the second most popular governor in the country. Our governor's approval rating is between 66 and 71 percent. We have a massive number of people in the middle of the political spectrum that are willing to vote for the best candidate regardless of affiliation. We have 70 percent who will consider an unaffiliated candidate for U.S. Senate."

Simon said politicians often play to the news cycle while the national debt soars. He said the nation's founding fathers "feared what we have today."

"Right now we're controlled by this two-party duopoly," Simon said. "It's kind of like a blue tribe and red tribe trying to kill each other rather than working together to help the people of the state. It's not supposed to be this way.

"The founding fathers wrote they feared Americans would ultimately develop more loyalty to factions than to their country," Simon said. "In George Washington's farewell address, he said he had three main fears: People would develop more loyalty to parties rather than country, they would run an irresponsible amount of debt and they would fight unnecessary wars. He wrote that 220 years ago. A lot of foresight there."

Simon said people feel forgotten.

"They're not looking out for the next generation and not making difficult choices about anything," Simon said.

Local businessman Nick Scarpelli asked Simon who he would caucus with if elected.

"I will not caucus with either," Simon said. "I will caucus with the people of the state of Maryland. There are some issues I agree with the Republicans and some where I agree with the Democrats. Right now politicians are more beholden to the party boss than the people."

Simon was asked his thoughts in health care coverage in the U.S.

"In our government today, they spend all their time arguing over an inefficient system," he said. "Our system is incentivizing more procedures, more tests and visits rather than incentivizing wellness. I'm intrigued by models (managed care system) like Kaiser Permanente. We spend too much on Medicare and Medicaid, not because of the program, because we have this inefficient health care system."

Simon was asked about the opioid crisis.

"Opioids are a huge, huge problem," Simon said. "I feel for you guys because it is more of a problem here than a lot of other parts of the state. It destroys people and families. I don't have a genius solution. The solution is complicated and involves prevention, treatment and involves criminalization of the distributors. You have to address it all together. I am all ears on that one. I don't have a silver bullet on that one."

Neal Simon for U.S. Senate