As a political commentator, I find there is something three-dimensional about having an old friend announce his congressional bid. It’s like watching a high-speed chase on TV when, suddenly, the bandits zoom past your front door, and the cops speed closely behind. The distant story instantly becomes reality — right before your eyes.
I felt this way last week when I read an article by NRO contributor Quin Hillyer. In it, my fellow political commentator threw his metaphor into the ring and began running for Alabama’s First District House seat.
“I am a constitutional conservative — and an ‘opportunity society’ conservative as well, hearkening back to the Reagan-Kemp era of prosperity and liberty,” Hillyer told his American Spectator readers in a farewell essay. “Free men and women, with free minds, in a free market, produce abundance and a vibrant society.”
Hillyer will contest the Republican primary for a special election after six-term GOP congressman Jo Bonner resigns August 15 and joins the University of Alabama.
Hillyer’s victory would be superb for Alabama, the free-market movement, and the republic at large.
I met Quin on our second day as freshmen floor mates at Georgetown University in August 1982. Since then, we have communicated in person, by phone, or e-mail almost daily, regarding virtually every newsworthy issue and controversy. We stood shoulder to shoulder through battles, defeats, and triumphs in College Republicans, Young Americans for Freedom, and other conservative organizations. We attended the 1984 GOP Convention together and cheered as Ronald Reagan was renominated. We have aligned our keyboards time and again to limit government and stymie those who expand it.
I also can thank Hillyer, a New Orleans native, for introducing me to his birthplace in 1984. The Big Easy is one of my strongest addictions. Across some 25 much-appreciated visits, it has added joy to my heart and subtracted months from my life expectancy. As they say down there: “We put the FUN in funeral.”
Hillyer comes highly recommended by his closest colleagues.
“Quin is well prepared on the issues,” says former representative Robert Livingston (R., Louisiana). Hillyer was Livingston’s press secretary from 1991 to 1997, both in his personal office and when he chaired the House Appropriations Committee. “Quin has a name in Mobile, and his conservative credentials are superlative. He understands the process and has wanted to run for several years.” Livingston added: “Quin is a thoughtful conservative who can help the hard core think before they leap. If he wins, I believe he will be a positive addition.”
Taxpayers will be pleased to know that Hillyer recalls helping Livingston and the GOP Congress cut some $50 billion in domestic discretionary spending in 1995–96, equivalent to $74 billion today.
After serving on Capitol Hill, Hillyer wrote editorials and columns for Alabama’s Mobile Press-Register for eight years, then for the Washington Examiner and the Washington Times before returning in 2011 to Mobile, his wife’s hometown. He left an especially deep impression at The American Spectator, for which he wrote until launching his candidacy.
“Quin could not be better prepared for the race,” The American Spectator’s editor, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., tells me. “He has written with clarity for decades on public problems and honed his principles over the years. He is as fit for office as Margaret Thatcher.”
Tyrrell adds: “Hillyer has stood by politicians under fire such as Bob Livingston, so he understands the pressure that faces politicians — and the temptations. He is a proven pol with a lot more thoughtfulness than most pols. Yes, he has the common touch but also an elevated sense of calling to the life of politics. He thinks of it as a responsibility, not as an occasion for perks and riches. He would be an asset to the House of Representatives because of all these assets.”