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Republican vying for Neguse’s House seat hopes to rewrite ‘false narrative’ of his party

Jacy Marmaduke
Fort Collins Coloradoan
Published 8:39 PM EDT Aug 13, 2020
Dr. Charlie Winn, a Republican running against U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse to represent Colorado’s House District 2, stands for a portrait in Boulder, Colo. on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.
Bethany Baker / The Coloradoan

BOULDER — Dr. Charlie Winn, the Republican nominee for Colorado’s 2nd congressional district, is entering the political fray with a hope of changing a “false narrative” about his party.

Democrats have held the 2nd Congressional District seat for more than 45 years, a tenure that Winn said has boxed Republicans out of the political process. Winn hates labels, particularly those of “racist,” “misogynist,” “xenophobe” and others he said he’s faced as a Boulder Republican. But he describes himself as an American who believes in democracy, diversity, the primacy of the individual over the state and working together to use market forces rather than government regulations to resolve issues.

“This is what the Republican party is,” Winn said in an interview. “But we’ve not been able to get out message out. We do have a choice in this country, and the choice should not be based on a D or an R after a name.”

Winn, a political newcomer, will face freshman incumbent Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette in the November election.

‘We didn’t always get it right … but we’ve kept trying’

The radiologist and Navy veteran explains many of his political positions in the context of his life experiences around the world — seeing the deep south under Jim Crow laws, studying philosophy in Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall, exploring the nations behind the Iron Curtain by motorcycle in 1965 and working as a flight surgeon primarily in the western Pacific.

He decried what he called a “revisionist history” of America that emphasizes the significance and legacy of slavery in America’s history over the equality-minded decrees of the Founding Fathers and the abolition of slavery and government-endorsed racial segregation.

“As a people, we’ve always tried to make things better,” he said. “We didn’t always get it right the first time, but by George, we’ve kept trying to go in … the right direction.”

Now he feels that a “great dysfunction” of party politics has divided the country and threatens to erode the progress he said he’s witnessed since the ‘60s. With a goal of continuing to keep America “going forward,” some of his campaign’s key issues are pandemic response — namely, reopening the economy and schools but remaining mobilized to target outbreaks — reducing the cost of health care and education, and preserving the environment while ensuring adequate food, fuel and water for a growing population.

WINN’S OPPONENT: Joe Neguse wants to restore citizens’ faith in Congress

He called the nation’s lack of preparation for the COVID-19 pandemic “embarrassing” considering that the public health community had long been aware that such an outbreak could have woeful impacts on the country because of a dearth in funding, coordination and planning. He cited the 2019 “Crimson Contagion” exercise conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which simulated an outbreak of a new respiratory illness with devastating impacts.

“We clearly were not prepared for this,” Winn said. “The CDC should’ve been sitting on top of it and telling public health services, ‘This is what you’re going to need, and this is how we’re going to do it. ‘Instead — I hate to say this, but we as Americans couldn’t even come together in a time of pandemic. We started politicizing it. That should never have happened.”

Winn said Congress should create a House committee to prepare the country for the next pandemic and that the government should emphasize hand-washing, physical distancing and, if it catalyzes the full reopening of schools and businesses, mask-wearing.

“We need to open up,” Winn said. “We cannot deny this current young generation their future because of fears that are not necessarily based on science. We cannot keep our economy closed and expect to have any future for our children.”

He said he believes schools can reopen safely if they follow procedures set out in countries like South Korea, Germany and France. Those countries have had some success during early stages of reopening schools, although they all have far lower levels of coronavirus infection than the U.S.

Asked to assess President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic, Winn said it is “tragic that we need to point fingers” at the president for what he described as a long-looming crisis. He said he appreciated that Trump invited White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci to speak at his press briefings.

“He responded as a leader, and what I saw as a good commanding officer,” Winn said.

Winn added later that his support of Trump depends on the issue at hand. He said he “doesn’t like his tweets more than anybody else does” but agrees with some of his policy decisions and, if elected, wouldn’t see himself as subservient to the executive branch.

WHO’S RUNNING? Here’s who’s on the Larimer County ballot this November

‘We have a sick care system’

Winn said his other priorities if elected would be health care and education reform, among other things. For education, he suggested that universities co-sign student loans so they’re invested in students’ outcomes. For health care, he backs a “patient concierge” approach where Americans have access to a physician who can help them navigate the health care network and “shop” for the most affordably priced procedures.

He said each state should develop its own approach to helping patients pay for care, but he suggested broadened use of health savings accounts with more state support as a potential strategy.

“We right now have a sick care system,” Winn said. “The physician, the hospital make money when you’re sick. We want a system that’s a well care system that really encourages the citizens to be healthy” and provides incentives for preventive care, he said. “We want to incentivize people to stay well, because after all, that’s the cheapest form of health care.”

Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support stories like this one by purchasing a digital subscription to the Coloradoan.​​​​​​​

This content was originally published here.