NY 26: Jack Davis and the Tea Party vs. Jane Corwin and the Republican Party.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
May 19 2011 11:45 AM

The Human Torch

Jack Davis personifies the Tea Party. Is that why Republicans are so afraid of him?

(Continued from Page 1)

Ask Davis about any issue, and he'll bring it back to China. Would he reform entitlements? No. "If we all had good-paying jobs, there wouldn't have been a recession, we wouldn't lose our homes, we wouldn't lose our health care, and we wouldn't leave this debt for our children." Would he vote to raise the debt ceiling? "The concession I'd want in order to vote for that is to get us out of the WTO. That's a big concession, right? Well, we need to do it."

After we talk for a while, Davis takes me into his official campaign office—that would be the office right next to his—to watch a mostly finished copy of a new ad. In it, a man comes home, informs his family that he's lost his job, and sets off a Willie Loman chain of events.

"The company's moving the factory to China."

"How can we pay for my chemotherapy without health insurance?"

"Will mom be OK?"

"What do you think of that?" asks Davis. "Some of the women in the office saw that, and they cried."

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When you spend a little time in the district, the Republican ads claiming Davis is a Democrat look silly. Yes, the Tea Party Express, which was co-founded by Republican strategists, came to the district this week to denounce Davis and endorse Corwin. Two members of Congress who were boosted by the Tea Party, Allen West and Marco Rubio, have cut calls for Corwin. But Davis, in his way, is the embodiment of the Tea Party, a one-man spokesperson for its fear of American decline. He's a pure nationalist who thinks that America got off track at some point, and that the boom days of the 1950s can return if taxes are low and trade deals get shredded. He reads Lou Dobbs and Paul Craig Roberts. He hates politicians. It takes some effort, when asked about his opponents, to judge them as "adequate," because, like everyone in the Tea Party, he thinks if you've been in politics you've contracted the virus that's come close to ruining this country.

"I'm not going to be like any congressman," says Davis. "Not to brag, but I'm not like any man. I started this company in my garage. You're here. You see the size of this establishment. When I die, I'm giving this company to my employees. I'm spending $3 million on this campaign. You name somebody else who has those credentials."

Before we wrap up, Davis puts on a jacket and takes me through a tour of his factory, past furnaces and rows and rows of heat conductors about to be sold and shipped. I ask him why some Chinese company hasn't just figured out how to do this and forced him out of business.

"Well, we're smarter than they are," he says. "They're good at copying but we're more likely to take a chance. Our minds work better at being innovative."

Mark Stonebreaker, a 33-year employee, takes a breather to explain why he's voting for Davis.

"This guy started a business in his garage," says Stonebreaker. "You look at all the regulation we've gotten since then, and all the business China is doing. Could anyone do that if they tried to right now? Could you start a business in your garage?"

"Yeah," interrupts Davis. "I could do it."

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