Republican candidate Allen Weh is running for U.S. Senate in the primary election against David Clements. (Courtesy Photo)
When asked how he describes himself, U.S. Senate candidate Allen Weh’s first two responses were quick and to the point.
“I’m a veteran,” Weh said.
The 71-year-old retired colonel spent 38 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, on active duty or in the reserve. He served two tours in Vietnam and in Malaysia. He was recalled during the Persian Gulf War and served as chief of staff of Marine Forces Pacific before retiring in 1997.
This is one difference between the well-known Republican and his primary opponent David Clements, a 34-year-old lawyer. The two will face off in the primary election June 3.
“He isn’t a veteran. That may matter to some. It certainly doesn’t matter to all,” Weh said.
If elected to the U.S. Senate by defeating Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, this would matter a great deal to Weh as he talked about how he felt about the armed forces.
“I’ll be one of only three combat veterans in the U.S. Senate if I’m elected,” Weh said. “I have a keen personal appreciation for what the 3 million men and women who serve in uniform … serve in the armed forces … serve in nasty places that we send them on deployment after deployment.”
Weh, who spoke with enthusiasm during a recent interview about a wide range of topics, paused for a moment. He broke his energetic gaze as his words caught in his throat.
“They deserve to be well equipped,” Weh said. “They deserve to have in the Congress (someone) who understands the world that they live in and what we expect them to do, and to look after them. I’m going to make sure our national defense is strong.”
Weh, chief executive officer of CSI Aviation since 1979, is also a businessman.
“I’m a business executive and I’m an entrepreneur,” Weh said. “I’ve grown a business from its start when I went to a bank and borrowed money to create a business 30 years ago.”
The business now turns over $160 million a year and employs 30, he said. If elected, he would be only one of 22 senators with business experience.
“There is absolutely a paucity of entrepreneurial types of people that understand what it means to grow business and make it in an economy, in the U.S. Senate,” Weh said.
New Mexico has a problem, he said. The state lost 4,000 jobs and 9,000 people in 2013.
“I intend to work with Gov. Martinez,” Weh said. “I will offer my services in any and all instances when the office of the U.S. Senator can help bring a business into this state or the operations of a major industry can expand to bring jobs.”
Weh said he also intends to protect federal facilities, as the state cannot endure another base closure. He expects to reinstitute the Base Relocation and Closure Commission, he said.
“Protecting our economy is really important to me,” Weh said.
Weh, who was chosen by more than half of the state Republican delegates at the preprimary convention earlier this month, is a former state party chair and was a 2010 gubernatorial candidate.
“I am a common sense conservative Republican,” Weh said. “I believe in the importance of American leadership in the world. Both economic leadership and foreign policy leadership, and a strong national security.”
Weh said he does not believe a government can spend money it does not own.
“I believe the U.S. should not be $17 trillion in debt,” he said. “Essentially, what Washington is doing, and the irresponsible leadership in Washington is doing, is bankrupting America.”
He is an advocate for a balanced budget amendment, he said.
The Affordable Health Care Act should also be voided, amended, fixed or corrected, he said.
“This health care program, that is a train wreck, is affecting Americans and New Mexicans, in ways that no one anticipated. And it certainly wasn’t sold that way by the administration,” Weh said. “The way this program has placed government in between people and their doctors … nothing should be in between a person and his or her doctor.”
Recent government encroachment on private landowners, farmers, oil and gas drilling and businesses with Endangered Species Act regulations and conservation efforts is excessive, he said.
“What we see is a government beyond reason,” Weh said. “It is government gone crazy. My goal is to get government as insignificant in everyone’s lives as I can. Government has a role. I am an anti-excessive government guy. There’s a difference.”
There are good regulations and bad regulations, he said.
“There’s some regulations and excessive regulations,” Weh said. “This administration, and men like (Sen.) Tom Udall, who have never worked a day in the private sector in their lives … He’s never had to make anything, sell anything, develop anything. He doesn’t get it. He’s not a bad man. But he doesn’t get it. He’s out of touch.”