LaDonna Hale Curzon, Executive Producer, Sarah Palin Radio this week interviewed Lt. Col. (ret) Wendy Rogers, a candidate for the new seat in Arizona, AZ-9. Lt. Col. Rogers is one of first women who became a military jet pilot and served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years. She has flown worldwide on humanitarian missions including the Bosnian Airlift during the fall of the Berlin Wall. While accumulating 3,000 hours of jet time, she was Commander of Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. She has two Masters Degrees, and many commendations. She accomplished all the foregoing while raising a family.
10,000 Houses, Door-to-Door on a Bicycle
Rogers noted that the new AZ-9 district is evenly divided between Democrats, Republicans and Independents, and believes it is a microcosm of the entire nation. She ran and narrowly lost a close state legislative race in the Democrat portion of the district two years ago. Rogers recounted how she bicycled to 10,000 homes, knocking on the doors of thousands of independents. She will be back on her bike for this run, and all the doors she had knocked on two years ago are in this new Congressional District.
Rogers is one of five Republicans running, and the only one of the five who served a full 20-year active duty military career. She did her flight training in Arizona at Mesa Gateway Airport, which is on the grounds of the former Williams Air Force Base. Rogers' husband was also in the air force and they home-schooled their children for the elementary years, then sent them to a charter school. Her children have graduated Arizona State University with honors. After retiring from the Air Force, Rogers started a home inspection business, which went on to be the leading home inspection business in the state. The 12-employee business operates in four counties and Rogers owns an office building four blocks from her home. "I really enjoy being rooted here in the community," she said.
Rogers is a fifth-generation military officer, and her oldest child is a former Marine officer working on a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and married to a nurse.
Too Much Government Interference
"I decided to run for Congress, because as a small business owner and job creator, I am having a tougher and tougher time. This is not the country I grew up in. This country has way too much government interference. I am going to Congress to reduce taxation, and reduce regulation on small business so that job creators like me - especially small business owners - can create jobs," she said.
"It's time to give back. I've done 20 years in the government sector, 15 years in the private sector. I am a big believer in what the founders envisioned in the citizen legislator, and in my case the airman citizen legislator."
Top Three Issues: Deficit, Jobs, ObamaCare
Curzon asked Rogers what she thought the most important issue was in Arizona. "Last week, we did some polling. The number one issue in my district is the deficit - people's concern about the deficit, being in debt the trillions of dollars that we are," Rogers said. "The number two issue: jobs. The number three issue: ObamaCare."
Rogers said she has "a wide variety of support. My grassroots support is exceptional. We have at least 20 or 30 folks out there gathering signatures. I'm calling you from my campaign office and we have Arizona State University interns coming in to help. We have a broad breadth of support among Republicans. I'm very proud of that."
American Attributes Transcend Party Divides
Rogers said that one concern is her district covers parts of Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, and Mesa and could trend urban Democrat as the years go by. But she said her prior service and being a job creator would appeal even to Democrats and Independents. She said that she has to make a payroll every two weeks. There are no bailouts or stimulus packages, and she can't print money. She has to keep the suites full in her office building, which with a community vegetable garden out back. Rogers said these "truly American attributes transcend party divides."
Sonic Booms and Broken Glass Ceilings
"I'm a true leader; I'm a trail blazer. I get things done, and I'm a proud of the success I've been able to have as a woman in the United States of America. Where else can a woman be a psychiatric social worker, in the Air Force as I was, then go to pilot training and become a jet pilot, pilot jets all over the world, and then retire, open a small business, succeed at that small business, make tough decisions every day, and have a family? To be able to retire as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force is a real honor, and that aspect of my biography seems to resonate very deeply."
Nothing More Special than Meeting a Voter at the Door to his Home
Rogers said running for Congress is a privilege. "I love going door-to-door, meeting voters, listening. There is nothing more special than meeting a voter [at] the door to his home."
If elected, Rogers said the first thing she would do is "find the other 60 Congressmen - there are no women - who have served - and work with them. She said she would also find those who have owned small businesses, "and we will work together to get government out of our business.
On Leadership, Integrity, and Trust
Curzon asked Rogers what lessons she had learned during her years of military service would help her tackle the Congress.
"Leadership involves working with people from all walks of life. Leadership involves having credibility down in the trenches, and leadership involves setting the right examples with whatever you do as far as integrity and job competence. Those are the lessons I learned as a leader, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force. You cannot micro-manage people. We have to trust one another. I've relied on people in my air crews, in my cockpits to watch my back. My life was entrusted to them. And so, I trust Americans. I have an intuitive faith in America and I swore when I took the Oath to defend the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. As a leader from the military, those are very deep-seated core convictions that I have."
Rogers said she has her integrity challenged as a businesswoman and she does not yield. She said she would take that core conviction to Congress.
Arizona Not in Play
Curzon said that Romney is most likely going to be the nominee and asked Rogers whether Obama or Romney would carry the state. Rogers said she had been watching the Presidential campaign from afar since she had been working on her own. "The Democrats like to say 'Arizona is in play.' I don't think so." She saw Romney in Tempe and he was "very impressive....I can tell you going door-to-door that people's most deep-seated fear is that Barack Obama will be re-elected. I can't tell you how many people have expressed that fear to me completely unprompted, and we can't let that happen." She said the ninth district "is the tipping point."
Her website is: wendyrogers.org
Complete Audio Transcript of Lt. Col. Rogers Interview