Col. (Ret.) Tom Brewer is battle tested. And now, he’s entered an entirely new fray, challenging incumbent Adrian Smith for the 3rd Congressional seat in Nebraska. Both are Republicans.
Brewer has strong ties to Richardson County, having served and trained with Company B, the National Guard unit he says should never have been decommissioned.
National service runs strong through his veins. Brewer was severely wounded in December, 2011, in a rocket-propelled grenade attack near Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was serving as Chief of Operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s counter narcotics task force.
The wounds were significant enough that his military career was over. He could have retired, comfortably, but learned in travels across Nebraska, that more service was needed. Brewer is answering that call.
“My first love was to stay in uniform,” Brewer said in an interview with the Journal. “It was a little heart-breaking,” he said of the injuries that prevented further military service.
As he traveled the state, on behalf of Wounded Warriors, Native American youth mentoring, Second Amendment rights and PTSD, people asked, ‘Why don’t you run for Congress?’ His response: “I’m not a politician.” But, he said, the problem people cited was the “professional politician” label. “I don’t want to do that,” Brewer said. “But shame on me if I’m not willing to make a difference . . . to change things.”
He said the 3rd District, which includes Richardson County, needs “someone strong,” who will represent them and their opinions. “I believe I can make a difference,” he said. “We need decisive leadership” and that doesn’t happen with “a career politican.”
Brewer invited anyone to compare his resume with that of incumbent Smith. Brewer has responded to national disasters (Katrina), served nearly eight years in Afghanistan and negotiated with foreign people whose agendas are quite different from those of the American people.
“I believe I can make a difference. We need decisive leadership . . . and you don’t have that with career politicians.” He questioned at what point Rep. Smith “has ever led,” rather pointed to the Congressman’s strong ties to party line.
“I don’t care what (Speaker) John Boehner says,” Brewer said. “I don’t like to be told what to do. The people (of your District) should tell you.”
Brewer said in Congress he would be open to compromise, rather than the “standstill” that now exists. “You are not going to get legislation (passed)” without compromise and negotiation, he said. “You’re never going to get anywhere if you stand at the ends and just yell at each other . . . and that’s kind of where we’re at.”
Brewer said part of the problem in Congress has to do with a lack of leadership. Part of the problem, he said, is a shortage of veterans in Congress. “Most (members) have never served, thus the “teamwork and unity to accomplish the mission is absent.”
“I’ll take a special interest in veterans,” Brewer said, describing them as “a neglected group.” He said he will also focus “on the size of government,” that is “out of control beyond words.” Brewer said a government that continues to “grow and grow,” while Rep. Smith has been in office, “can’t continue.” He said the national debt “has skyrocketed.”
The federal government, Brewer said, has approached “the perfect storm,” and is approaching “the breaking point,” which he believes will happen “in the next two to four years.” Brewer said the result will be a collapsed economy and higher taxes. “The problem is mismanagement in Congress,” he said, poor management for the past 20 years.
As to his opponent in the Republican primary, Brewer said Smith’s campaign war chest should not be a “green light” to be a “Congressman forever.”
Brewer said he will “put in the windshield time” and meet the people of the district. His plan is to get “eyeball to eyeball” with potential constituents and explain his “passions.” With Congressional approval ratings at about 15 percent, “it may be time for a change,” Brewer said.
The candidate pointed to shriveling towns and the “brain drain” in the 3rd District, realities that are not being addressed, he said. “I’m an old soldier,” he said, but maybe people “don’t want a politician” to represent them. Rather, “a guy who gives a hoot.”
“My dream now” that his military career is over, “is to make life better for the people I would represent.” He said Falls City has always been one of his favorite places, where he has spoken at a variety of veterans’ events. “It has a hometown feel,” Brewer said.
Brewer had fond things to say about two local veterans, Mark Jones and the late Marshal Maddox. “I came here (to Company B) as a 2nd Lt. in 1984, 85 and 86,” Brewer said. “Mark was the Commanding Officer and Rex Jones was the 1st Sgt. This is where I kind of grew up.”
He said Platoon Sgt. Maddox was “a hard Vietnam Vet,” who took “great pride in mentoring and coaching” his soldiers, while instilling the knowledge that officers have a real responsibility for those in their command. Maddox, Brewer said, could be “hell on wheels,” but noted that
“I’m a better person for having Maddox as my Platoon Sergeant.” Drills “were never boring,” Col. Brewer said.
He added that Falls City, with Commander Jones and Maddox, was “a great place to be,” and the training both believed in was critical. Brewer also said that Company B was “a part of the community” and “part of the fabric of the community.” He lamented that so many Guard units have been consolidated.
Of Maddox, Brewer said “he formed my clay.”