Jesse Kelly

Age 29

Some college at Montana State University.

Joined the U.S. Marine Corps at age 19, served in Iraq with infantry.

Employed as a project manager for the family business, Don Kelly Construction.

"This country's worth fighting for," said Jesse Kelly, who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq. In traveling to countries both at war and in peace, "you realize how amazing this country is," he said. "People were willing to set aside their lives, and fight for it."

Kelly fears that, without conservative political intervention, "we're going to lose it. That's the only motivator. I have no desire to be a politician. I want to keep in the private sector, spend time with my wife and boys. This country only exists because people set aside what they wanted, and served to protect a free nation."

Kelly is "disgusted with Washington right now. This Administration, this Congress, is the antithesis of everything this country was founded on."

He rattles off the threats. Higher taxes. Government control. "Backing tyrants instead of backing freedom." Threats to individual freedom and private property rights. "This government finds neither of those to be tasteful, and they've proven it by their actions.

"What we need is not Republicans to be elected, we need conservatives, conservative Republicans, to fight for their principles. Liberal Republicans are as responsible as liberal Democrats" for the current state of affairs. "We need conservatives to take back this country, and we need them now."

Brian Miller

Age 34

Bachelor's degree in political science with an emphasis on American government, Northern Arizona University

Served in U.S. Air Force, including service in Afghanistan.

"It always comes down to one answer for me, one word," Brian Miller said. "Freedom. My passion is individual freedom. My study has always been the plight of people in a free versus a tyrannical society. People in a free country are more moral, happier, more prosperous. Everything is better in a free society. The more we can maximize individual freedom, the better it is for everyone involved."

Freedom is threatened in this country, Miller believes. "There is no greater barometer than the amount of money government spends, either from your pocket, from the fruits of your labor … or, in our deficit spending, taking money away from your children and grandchildren."

He sees further threats to the rights of speech and the bearing of arms. "Search and seizure, the Patriot Act, the list goes on and on.

"We should meet this problem head-on," Miller said. "Let Americans live free and unfettered lives. Let decisions be made from the closest level of government as possible.

"Government is created initially, simply, to protect life, liberty and property," Miller said. "When government gets beyond those reaches, and into the business of transferring wealth, engaging in nation building, and in projections of force, it becomes distorted and it becomes obtrusive."

Jonathan Paton

Age 39

Bachelor's degree in German, University of Arizona

Served in the U.S. Army, stationed in Iraq seven months as an intelligence officer

Served in Arizona Legislature

"The country is in trouble, and I think that a lot of the problems we're facing I can fix," Jonathan Paton said. If nothing is done, "we're not going to have a better life for our kids than we have now.

"We have enormous debt we're passing on to future generations like we've never seen before," Paton said. "A lot of other countries are holding the Treasury notes. That's a scary prospect. … The priorities of this Administration and the Congress don't match up with the people."

Paton says he's willing to make hard choices to cut spending. In the Legislature, "I voted for the largest spending cut in state history," one that reduced school spending and affected his own brother, a teacher. "We had to balance the budget. They don't have to do that in Washington."

He puts responsibility on both political parties. "One of the reasons why people don't like Republicans, they didn't do what they said they were going to do. They spent too much money."

Fiscal restraint is "one of the issues that's a big deal for me, that differentiates me. Conventional wisdom is that you bring the pork back, you get political power, you get re-elected, you vote for the key things the leadership wants you to vote for. Pork has got to stop in Washington.

"There's not going to be the buyer's remorse" with Paton, he said. "If you're honest, you say 'this is what my stance is,' you tell people now. No earmarks. I'm telling you now."

Republican CD 8 candidates talk about running, why them

What have the candidates learned from running for office?

"More people than you can possibly imagine have had enough of a government that won't listen to them," Jesse Kelly said. "I've learned just how horrendous the border situation is down there. It's worse than you can even imagine. People are scared to death."

"Your limitations, and how to pass by them," Jonathan Paton said. "When you start this, it seems a lot easier than you realize. Either you get better, or you lose.

"I continuously learn a lot about how many more friends I have than I realized," Paton continued.

Most importantly, he said, "communicating leadership is something you learn over time. You have to get good at that. Communicating the passion I have, and how important that is."

"There are a lot of potential answers to that one," Brian Miller said. "I have to be careful in my response. A lot of it is discouraging, in the way politics operates.

"I've learned that when you stick to your principle, even though you take maybe the road less traveled, people respect that," Miller said. "That's encouraging to me.

"I have a newfound respect for anybody who campaigns. It is a grueling and arduous life, it's tough on your family."

How has running changed the candidates?

"I'm much more comfortable talking to a large audience," Brian Miller said. "I'm much more readily able to get my point across to people. You have to project."

"I hope it hasn't changed me at all," Jesse Kelly said. "We're tired of people getting involved and in politics and changing."

"I'm so grateful for this experience," Jonathan Paton said. "You learn so much about yourself, and you get better every single day. It's how you convey the ideas, with passion."

The primary is "the best thing that could have happened to me."

Why vote for them?

"Two main reasons," said Jonathan Paton. "On all the major issues, I've been a leader, a conservative leader, on every single one of those issues," and Jesse Kelly and Brian Miller "have no track record at all. They're new to Southern Arizona. I've spent my whole life here. I know the problems because I've lived the problems."

He doesn't believe Kelly and Miller could beat incumbent Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

"I know we can. The Democrats know I can. That's why they follow me around at most of my appearances.

"They've identified me. They're not waiting for the primary. I learned in the intelligence field, you learn quite a lot about your own abilities based on the actions of the enemy.

"A vote for the other guys is a vote for Gabrielle Giffords."

"One of the criticisms is money," Brian Miller said of his campaign. "Jonathan Paton has raised, I think $660,000. Jesse has raised $500-plus thousand. Gabrielle Giffords has $2.2 million. Gabby's got 10 times the money our leading competitor has.

"This year, money is not going to be the thing," Miller believes. "It's ripe for the taking for me."

"It's me and Paton, obviously," Jesse Kelly said. "Jonathan Paton and I are night and day different. He's a big-spending Republican, he voted for Napolitano's budgets, he stood with the Democrats. He voted against tort reform three times, once, less than a year ago. He's a career politician, a lobbyist.

"I'm a Marine Corps combat veteran and a businessman. I got in when Gabrielle Giffords supposedly couldn't be beaten. He got in after a poll. That's why we're winning this.

"We don't need more career politicians in this country, we need fighters, because we're in trouble. We need conservative fighters in this nation.

"I will not sell your principles down the road, ever. I will draw the line, and fight for conservatism."

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