Skip to comments.GOP hopeful out with book on Iraq war experience
Posted on 06/05/2006 5:43:46 PM PDT by SandRat
Frank Antenori doesn't pull any punches.
President Bush, he says, has failed on some key issues. The Republican majority in Congress? Those guys need a dose of reality.
And the way Antenori rails against the influence of money in politics, you might take this retired army sergeant turned novice politician as a committed liberal.
But Antenori actually is a conservative Republican jockeying to snatch retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe's seat in Congress this November, and he's attempting to gain traction by appealing to Republicans who feel isolated by their own party.
Now, Antenori who's been in the race for months is garnering some national attention for his book "Roughneck Nine-One," a narrative of his experience in Iraq during the beginning of the U.S. conflict there in 2003. The book hit major bookstores on Memorial Day, and Antenori already is scheduled to promote it on Fox News and MSNBC later this month. The East Side resident's run for office is reflective of a well-publicized national phenomenon, as the first of the Iraq war veterans take stabs at running for Congress. Unlike Antenori, many of those other candidates scattered across the country are Democrats. Antenori's book focuses on a critical battle he was involved in during the onset of the war in Iraq in 2003. His Special Forces A-team, whose call sign was Roughneck Nine-One, had been assigned to block a highway in northern Iraq that served as a supply route for Iraqi army equipment.
The 31 soldiers 26 of them Green Berets soon found themselves in the middle of a violent four-and-a-half-hour battle after being attacked by 150 Iraqi troops. The American forces came out victorious, with only two wounded, although several Kurdish allies were killed. Antenori was at the center of the battle, his life on the line.
Even though, looking back, he realizes how much danger he was confronting, he says fear has no place on the battlefield.
"You don't think. There's a switch in the back of your head. It's like autopilot," he said.
Married for 13 years and a father of two boys, Antenori retired in 2004 after 20 years in the military and took a job as a programs manager for Raytheon Missile Systems, where he helps test and develop new weapons by providing a "user perspective."
He's betting his real-life war experience aids him in his race for Congress. Other Republicans in the race are Randy Graf, Mike Hellon, Steve Huffman and Mike Jenkins.
With polls showing the president's approval ratings in the low 30s, Antenori and the four other Republicans in the District 8 congressional race are working to convince folks that they aren't the status quo.
"It's a tough time to be a Republican," says Antenori, 40. "The Republican party is alienating their base." On Bush, Antenori says: "He sold a vision to the American people, and then when he got to Washington he somehow forgot all about it."
Antenori's strategy might be a tough sell with local Republicans, says Linda Barber, president of the Pima County Republican Club.
"That statement isn't even remotely true to conservatives," she said, pointing to tax cuts, Supreme Court appointments and the war on terrorism as issues that the president owns.
Still, Antenori, a Pennsylvania native of Italian decent, uses direct language and calls himself an independent thinker. When talking politics, he uses words such as "idiots" and "crock."
He calls himself part of a silent majority: The middle class or the "meat and potatoes of this country." But even with his no-non-sense style, his candidacy won't be a walk in the park. Antenori has no political experience. A Tucsonan for only two years, he doesn't have deep connections here to help line up campaign contributions and political endorsements. And so far he's only raised about $5,500, while three of his competitors in the Republican primary have garnered more than $100,000 each.
But he's hoping those are the very qualities that make him stand out. And while he admits his chances of garnering the nomination in September are slim, Antenori promises he's in the race to win even if that means knocking on a lot of front doors.
* Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at 807-7789 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't think running on an anti-bush platform is going to win a GOP primary.
Especially not when he has some pretty tough competition in Graf, Hellon, and Jenkins.
I'd like to see him take on Ed Pastor in the next cycle, though.