House District 36’s Amber Mariano is up for reelection, and she’ll be facing a primary challenger in Joseph Molnar.
This isn’t Molnar’s first foray into politics, having a background as a leadership fellow and field organizer in the 2016 presidential election. In addition, from September 2017 through January 2018, he worked as a regional field director for the Republican Party in Sarasota. However, this is his first time posing as a candidate, but he doesn’t seem to be intimidated by the task because it’s with the hope of making his district a better place.
I got to interview the candidate, and I was able to get some insight into his personal life, his political aspirations and what changes need to be made in the political arena.
To begin with, as a civilian, Molnar’s developed a disciplined attitude from his dedication to going to the gym. He explains that he enjoys “working out, but I don’t look at that as a hobby. I look at it more as a lifestyle.”
He detailed how his interest in politics came about, and why he chose to become involved in the political process. Molnar expressed that “as a young boy, I always knew I wanted to do something that changed the world. I was always interested in history and government and how it worked. But it never really clicked with me that politics was the way to go until my teenage years.”
But, what exactly propelled him to become actively involved in the political process? Well, it was an issue that has divided Americans for years. He stated that “the war on terror is where it really struck for me. I knew that I wanted to try and stop what was going on with terrorism around the world. My life hasn’t changed much because of it other than I can do something that I’m passionate about.”
So, now we’re here. The midterm elections are coming up, and posing as a candidate brings its positives and negatives. The downside of it is the difficulties that come with fundraising. He explained that “if you aren’t an incumbent, many big donors either donate to your opponent or stay out of the race.”
However, the positives outweigh the obstacle of raising money because it connects him to his community. He added that “the positives of fundraising is you get to connect with people around the district, the state and the country that are genuinely concerned with what’s going on in their government.”
And, as part of said government, he pays respect to those before him that have influenced him and his political aspirations. When it comes to his heroes, he expressed that “politically speaking, my biggest two influencers are Rand Paul and Mitt Romney. A lot of people will say they’re both very different, which is true. But I think that’s why I can take from both of them.”
Now, preparing for House District 36, Molnar says there has to be some changes. Not only in terms of leadership but in terms of the direction of the district as well.
He explained that “The missing leadership from Amber Mariano in district 36 is appalling to me. I first met her in 2016, and I had high hopes for her. However, she’s been an extreme disappointment. I believe she needs to be replaced with a real conservative. The conservatives in Pasco want someone that will truly represent them in Tallahassee, and Amber Mariano has not been it. I believe if I’m elected, I can lead district 36 in a more conservative direction while also cleaning up the streets of West Pasco from our out of control drug and homeless crisis.”
And, one of the biggest issues heading into the midterm elections is the recent Parkland school shooting and how lawmakers should react as a result to ensure that future shootings don’t take place. With the recent gun bill being signed by Governor Scott, Molnar strongly disagrees with Mariano’s support for the legislation. He expressed that “The recent gun bill that Amber Mariano voted for is one that I believe should not have been signed into law. I see absolutely no logical reasoning behind it. My heart goes out to those affected by the shooting, but we cannot allow that to cloud our judgement. Raising the age to buy a rifle was not the correct decision. Instead, we should focus on not only mental health,but trying to find a solution to the home family being ripped apart and better dealing with bullies in the classrooms. A majority of the mass shooters in recent years have had no father figure in the household.”
Ultimately, the candidate is a citizen first, contemplating the issues as a representative should he be elected and voicing his constituents’ views. But, there are debates that go on at home as well. Nothing seems to faze him, but he does want to make something clear. He says that in the dinner table debate of whether or not pineapples go on pizzas, “pineapples do go on pizza, and if someone wants to question my integrity on that, I will simply remind them that I’m an Italian from New York, and nobody does pizza better than us.”
Aside from Molnar and Mariano, Democrat Linda Jack from New Port Richey joins them in the race for the seat. The district also has a high republican advantage, having been won by President Donald Trump by 21 points in the 2016 Presidential election.