Frank Antenori remembers the moment he realized he belonged in politics.
Antenori, who signed up with the Army right out of high school in Pennsylvania, had joined some other Green Berets on a trip to Washington to testify before Congress. He looked around and realized he was a lot more in touch than the politicians he was talking to. Remembers Antenori: “When I saw the caliber of people running this country, I said: ‘Oh my God, I can do this.’ I was not impressed.”
After finishing an 20-year military career that took him to Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Iraq (among other hot spots), Antenori, 42, took a job as a programs manager with Raytheon and moved to Tucson, where he wrote a book about an Iraqi battle his unit was involved in—Roughneck Nine-One—and kept an eye on politics.
When Congressman Jim Kolbe retired in 2006, Antenori decided to make his debut on the political stage as one of five Republicans competing in the primary.
Antenori says he knew from the start he wasn’t likely to win—he ended up with less than 5 percent of the vote—but he made a lot of connections, got some campaign experience and built up some name ID.
Now he’s back to run for one of the two open seats in Arizona’s District 30.
He says his forthright nature and fundamental party values sets him aside from the other Republicans in the race: Sharon Collins, David Gowan and Doug Sposito.
“I am still the same unabashed, uninhibited Frank Anetori,” he says. “I believe that the bigger government gets, the less freedom you have…. I despise expansion of government into people’s lives.”
His aversion to big government is evident in his prescription to stimulate Arizona’s economy: “If we cut corporation taxes temporarily, we will increase the number of businesses in Arizona.”
He’s willing to cut a lot of government programs, saying government should get out of the business of highway beautification and back to basics like providing public safety, infrastructure and education.
Anetori wants to improve Arizona’s K-12 schools with more intensive math, science and “life-skills” curriculum.
“K-12 is meant to prepare kids to enter the world,” Anetori said. “We need to spend less time teaching how to put condoms on cucumbers and more time on balancing a checkbook.”
Antenori is also a big booster of nuclear and other alternative energy programs. He envisions building nuclear power plants to sell power to California in return for their CAP water credits. The Arizona nuclear plants would supply power to California desalinization plants so that the Golden State would be able to give up Colorado River water rights.
“The water issue will kill our economy in 15 years,” Anetori said. “There are not a lot of longterm thinkers in the legislature right now.”
The two winners of the Sept. 2 GOP primary will face Democrat Andrea Dallesandro in November.