Scott Allegrini makes run at Sears, ObamacareWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Given his focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act and his public role as a co-founder of the conservative group Children of Liberty, it would be fair to assume Scott Allegrini’s political involvement was inspired by President Barack Obama. But it was another president — George W. Bush — who galvanized Allegrini’s activism.
“When I really started to get upset with both parties, Republican and Democrat, George W. had the presidency, both houses of Congress, and he’s growing Medicare Part D?” Allegrini said.
“So I started to really pay attention and become vocal about what was going on. What really set me off was the bank bailouts and the stimulus in the fall of 2008 before the election when the economy was collapsing. The stimulus, it was one of those things that didn’t make sense. The government, under a Republican president, was just throwing money at problems.”
Those political origins do not, however, weaken Allegrini’s conservative views as he evolves from critic to activist to politician — challenging fellow Republican Barbara Sears for her seat as the District 47 representative in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Children of Liberty
Allegrini, who recently turned 40, said he has always been interested in politics.
“I’ve loved politics from when I was a little kid. Ronald Reagan got me inspired. I was 10 in 1984,” he said. “My mom and dad were union members. I turned them around. My grandfather once told my dad, ‘How the heck did we get a Republican in the family?’ Maybe I was just being obstinate when I was younger, but I loved Ronald Reagan and he inspired me.”
What was it about Reagan that inspired Allegrini?
“The idea that you could do anything,” he said. “He painted a picture of America moving forward, that we could be anything we wanted to be if we put our minds to it. He was a former actor — not a member of the intelligencia, but a guy who made movies and became one of the greatest leaders.
“He was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet empire. In high school, I worked on a couple different campaigns, people running for city council. I’d go door-to-door for them, nothing too big. I started listening to Rush Limbaugh and my dad would take me to two-a-days for St. Francis football and he would say ‘Hey, this guy sounds like you,’ and that was ’88 when he was first syndicated. So I started to listen to Rush, read William Bennett, conservative ideas.”
Allegrini said he did not have early aspirations to be a public figure.
“I told myself I’d never do it, I’d be behind the scenes. My degree is in political science and economics from UT. After college I went into finance for a little bit, because that’s where the jobs were. I got out of that and I decided to go work for Walmart in 2001,” he said.
In other words, Allegrini is a self-professed Reagan-loving, Limbaugh-listening Walmart worker. That makes him the natural enemy of almost every liberal. Unless he drilled for oil in your backyard while clubbing baby seals with spotted owls, what else could he possibly do to piss off liberals?
“There’s no reason that I should,” he said, laughing at the description. “I love the country just like they do, I just think we need to head in a different direction. We’re all Americans, we all need to work together to move our country forward, we just have different visions of what that should be.”
Allegrini said he co-founded Children of Liberty in 2009 as a way to foster conversation and cultivate common ground.
“I realized, if I wasn’t gonna do it, who was?” he said. “There was nothing out there. I never planned for Children of Liberty to be what it was; I planned for it to be about six or seven guys and gals talking about the Constitution. At that time there was no tea party movement. We predate that.
We put the website up in early February 2009, and the first event we had was a Glenn Beck 9/12 event. So we advertised that to be our first big event. We had that at a restaurant and 120 people showed up. And we were like, ‘Holy smokes, wow, there are this many people that think like we do!’ and so we really took that idea and said, ‘You know what? Let’s educate.’
“So throughout that summer, we set up meetings working on educating people about the Constitution, the media, Congress, Ohio legislature, health care and cap and trade. We spent meetings probably every other week trying to educate. And then we started to afford to try to be active.
Allegrini said while Bush and his stimulus inspired the movement, “Obama just took it to a whole new level.”
“I see the direction we’re heading, and it’s not a good place,” he said. “We’re $17 trillion in debt now, and they’re talking by 2020 to be $20 trillion in debt? How do you pay that back? There’s no way you can pay that back without deflating the currency.
“It’s frustrating; instead of the right thing, we’ve done the easy thing. When you’re spending too much, at some point you’ve gotta say, ‘We can’t keep doing this. Let’s face facts, let’s tighten our belts, we’re gonna have to live within our means for a few years to pay it off.’ And that’s a tough thing. Republicans don’t wanna make that decision, they just wanna keep that going.”
Bill Zouhary, an early member of the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition (NWOCC) and the former leader of Perrysburg Patriots, said Allegrini and he stand for many of the same principles.
“Scott is not a politician. He is a man of principle and his foundation is the Constitution. If it goes against the Constitution, he won’t vote for it.
“Obamacare is a big enough issue to sink this country. As a health care professional, I have seen how this thing is failing. Politics is not the answer and seeing how someone like Barbara Sears, who I supported, caved in, I will do whatever I can to help Scott and help our country get back on its feet.”
Robert Densic, founder of the conservative group Back to Basics, describes Allegrini as a “kindred spirit.”
“We think in much the same way and our concerns for our nation are much the same,” Densic said. “The direction of government and the nature of people are our focus, as they were for the Founding Fathers.
“This election is a matter of principle. We expect actions to match principles. When someone who calls themselves a conservative leads an effort contrary to their principles, where does that leave us? Scott is a man of deep conviction and principle. He will not waver or sacrifice his principles. I will help Scott in any way I can.”
Allegrini said forging relationships has been the high point of his Children of Liberty experience.
“The best part is the people I’ve met, so many great like-minded people who can still disagree on stuff. It’s wonderful that we can have a disagreement but still be friends,” he said. But the national stage has provided some frustrating moments for Allegrini and his group.
“After the 2012 election, after seeing the president re-elected, after all the hard work we put in had gone to naught, I said, ‘Something’s different. We did everything you’re “supposed” to, and it didn’t work,’” he said. “So I stepped back from the political aspect, and started to look at the culture and the community.
“Since the election I haven’t been that involved in the political aspect. I’ve been more involved in the food drives and working with the Cherry Street Mission, where we can make a bigger change. We’ve gotta change the people, and then they’ll want different leaders. We kind of realized that we can’t force change from the top-down.”
Dr. Linda Bowyer, a University of Toledo professor emeritus of finance, is chairwoman of the NWOCC. She said her group encouraged Allegrini to run.
“We are very supportive of his candidacy,” she said. “Scott is a very principled person. He is going to act on his beliefs even if it’s not the political move. He is Constitutionally focused and that is very important for us.”
She said Allegrini is right in challenging Sears on Obamacare.
“You can’t call yourself a conservative on everything else and then support that expansion,” she said. “We can’t let that slide and I believe Scott would never do that.”
Allegrini is targeting State Representative and Majority Floor Leader Barbara Sears (R-Toledo) of Moncolva Township, who is serving her third term.
“It wasn’t an aspiration to be a politician, it was ‘I want to stop her,’” Allegrini said. “The main reason is her support for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
“Barbara Sears and I probably agree on 85 percent of everything but she’s wrong on this issue and it’s too big an issue.
“It’s a strong enough issue to not just voice my concerns to her, but to put my life out there to express just why this is so important to merit this kind of commitment. Once the government gets control of your medical records and your medical system, and that’s what this Obamacare Medicaid expansion is, they are making more people depend on the government. They are taking away the incentive to be productive citizens. The control of medical insurance is a game-changer. And that’s why you still see so many groups fighting against it. It’s the law, it’s implemented, but once people depend on the government for their medical care, they will depend on everything. It’s such a big issue.”
Allegrini said he sees running for office as putting his money — and time, energy and life — where his mouth is.
“As a conservative, we talk about how we’re gonna hold our politicians accountable, and for too long it’s been lip service,” he said. “It’s a big issue and it’s someone’s responsibility — my responsibility — to act.”
Allegrini said he has communicated with Sears about the issue.
“I’ve had some conversations with her through Facebook and she says it’s to help the poor, help those who need the insurance, and that the federal government’s gonna pay 90 percent of it, you know, all the stuff she says in public,” he said.
Allegrini said as he campaigns, he is beginning to understand the commitment of public office.
“I’ve been dreaming about the campaign,” he said.
The run for office comes as there are seismic changes in Allegrini’s personal life — he and his wife Anna are seeking to adopt a child and he still works full time.
“We’re still in the process of adopting. We’re waiting to be chosen,” he said. “We’re trying to go through Catholic Charities. As for work, Walmart is big in supporting the community, as long as it doesn’t affect my work. I work four 12-hour days. I work three days, I’m off three days, I work three days, so that rotation allows me to structure meetings and campaign events. I do a good job of separating my work and outside work. Walmart’s always been good to me and I respect them.”
How will Allegrini balance work and a new baby with potential trips to Columbus?
“I wouldn’t do it had Anna not said OK,” he said. “It’s gonna be tough. I might have to go on leave from Walmart because it’s just so much time being in Columbus and everything. As Anna said to me, there were women with children during the Revolutionary War, their husbands were gone for long periods of time, and even now with soldiers overseas, women don’t know if their husbands are gonna be back — and I’m just in Columbus. We’re strong enough to deal with it.”
Anna and Scott were married in 2007 after dating for three years. She has stood in public with Scott through Children of Liberty and said politics are a shared passion.
“In 2009, after the bank bailouts, Scott sat down and told me the bailouts were a game changer,” she said. “He wanted us to do something to get people talking about the Constitution and the ramifications of the direction of government. I agreed with him wholeheartedly and we soon realized we weren’t alone in our beliefs.”
She said they did not anticipate the national tea party movement but to see it rise was gratifying.
“It snowballed as people thought about the impact on their children and people really grabbed on to how Scott engaged them,” she said. “It has been a blessing to meet so many good people.”
Anna said Scott’s first mention of running against Sears “sideswiped” her.
“We were both very bothered by her support of Medicaid expansion,” Anna said. “He realized he couldn’t just urge people to get involved, that he had to take the lead.
“I wasn’t excited about it at first but Scott is very good at taking me out of my comfort zone. But I know he would not do anything that would jeopardize our family and I know he has such a huge servant’s heart to help people. He wants to do what’s right so I am doing my best to support him and be there for him.”
With no support from the local Republican party, how is Allegrini funding his campaign?
“I’m not gonna be able to compete with her on television ads,” he said. “We’re doing all grassroots fundraisers.”
Does Allegrini see himself as a protest candidate? Does he want to win or will he be satisfied with making a point?
“I would not have gotten in it if I didn’t want to win,” he said. “I wouldn’t put myself and my family through this if I didn’t think I had a chance to win. That’s probably why I’m dreaming about the campaign, because I can’t make any mistakes. I have to run a perfect campaign because I can’t compete with money, I can’t compete with infrastructure.
“It’s old-fashioned retail politics. I’m gonna wear out so many soles of so many shoes. I have a lot of contacts through Children of Liberty and all the events we’ve done.
“I have people who believe in the same things I do and are willing to help in those areas out in Wauseon and Archbold and Fayette and that area. It’s a primary, off-year election so the turnout’s not gonna be huge, that’s less people I’ve gotta get to.”
Allegrini said he plans to reach out to Sears to arrange a debate but nothing had been set at press time. He does plan to utilize social media.
“The new media and social media are going to be interesting, to see how we can get the message out,” he said.
While Obamacare is their main split, Allegrini said there are other differences in ideology between himself and his opponent.
“Obamacare is the key, that’s the catalyst, that’s what everything else revolves around. But there are a lot of other issues,” he said.
“Whether it’s Republican or Democrat, the first thing politicians look at is, ‘How can government solve problems?’ And what I want to do is bring a fresh mindset in: How do we free up the public sector? How do we let free enterprise solve problems, not the government? How do we unleash the free market to solve these problems? There are ways we can privatize Medicaid, bring down the cost and get more people covered; there’s been studies on how to do it. They’ve been presented to the legislature but again it’s doing the right thing versus the easy thing.
“The budgets in Ohio have grown, we’re not shrinking the budgets; Barbara Sears has voted for them, to pass them. We can’t keep growing the budgets in Ohio, or we’re gonna have to raise taxes. Barbara Sears wants to grow the government less. I want to halt the growth of government. That’s a big difference.”
Sears said while she supported the state Medicaid expansion, she did have reservations about the Affordable Care Act.
“From a fiscal standpoint, from a family values standpoint, and from a human capital standpoint, the Medicaid expansion makes sense. I get the fact that the expansion came with the Affordable Care Act,” Sears said. “I was part of the team that said we should not do a state exchange, and I think the feds are 100 percent wrong for doing what they did with the Affordable Care Act.”
Conservative activist John McAvoy said he had talked to Sears about the Obamacare expansion, trying to find alternatives to Medicaid expansion, but “she was stuck on implementing Obamacare Medicaid expansion even though the people of Ohio voted in every county against it. It’s an extremely important issue to us.
“I have known Scott for six years. I have seen his focus move to the Christian aspects of Conservatism. He is fully aware of what this job will entail and I trust him to stand for our principles.”
As Sears is termed out after this election, why didn’t Allegrini wait to run for an open seat instead of against an established incumbent?
“I’m not running just because my goal is to be the representative, I’m running because the taxpayers have to push back against the politicians, we have to stand up,” he said. “We can’t allow the politicians to keep making the decisions and take our states in the wrong place without holding them accountable. If I lose, my life goes on. I’m going to continue to be involved in the community, I’m going to continue to educate, figure out ways to help those who are less fortunate without government help. Because I truly believe once we do that, we can tell the government, ‘We don’t need your help, we have it under control,’ and we can roll back those programs.
“The way I’ll be different from Barbara Sears is that every bill that comes before me, if I’m in the Statehouse, I’ll look at it and say, ‘Will it grow the government or will it shrink the government?’ That’s going to be my mantra. If I vote for it, it’s because it’s going to shrink government and increase our liberty.”
Tags: Affordable Care Act, Bill Zouhary, Catholic Charities, Cherry Street Mission, Children of Liberty, Columbus, Constitution, founder of the conservative group Back to Basics, George W. Bush, Medicaid, Medicare Part D, Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition (NWOCC), Obamacare, Ohio District 47, Ohio House of Representatives, Perrysburg Patriots, Revolutionary War, Robert Densic, Scott Allegrini, State Rep. Barbara Sears, State Representative and Majority Floor Leader Barbara Sears (R-Toledo), Walmart