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GOP Hopeful backed Obamacare

Reyes takes many Democratic positions

Eric Reyes
Eric Reyes

Eric Reyes, the Democrat-turned-Republican running for Congress, takes many positions that may not sit well with his new party.

As recently as 2 years ago, Reyes called for protecting Obamacare, a program that the Republican-led Congress has voted more than 30 times to repeal.

Reyes, a Rock Island attorney, is seeking to represent the 17th Congressional District, which includes Whiteside and Carroll counties. The incumbent is Democrat Cheri Bustos of East Moline.

Reyes, 34, backed Obamacare during an interview with the Quad-City Times when he announced his Democratic candidacy in July 2011.

"There is a health care law with a lot of provisions that are already helping people, but a lot of provisions face the threat of repeal. We need to protect that as well," he told the newspaper.

On his campaign website, Reyes said he believes in a government-funded and operated nonprofit health care option as the "most effective way to provide comprehensive, universal, cost-effective health care," known as the public option.

"I believe access to quality, affordable health care is a right, not a privilege," he writes on the site.

In an interview Wednesday, Reyes said he supported what Obamacare was trying to accomplish, but he believed the mandate that everyone get insurance is unconstitutional.

"I thought it was a bad law. I thought there should have been a public option," he said.

Health care is not the only area where he departs from his party's positions. Others include his support for legalized marijuana and same-sex marriage and opposition to NAFTA. He also backs comprehensive immigration reform, which many Republicans oppose.

In an interview last week, he said he has long felt more aligned with Republican principles. He compares himself to Rand Paul, a GOP senator from Kentucky often seen as a libertarian.

Now, Reyes' themes are cutting taxes and cutting government. But in a September 2011 interview with the Quad-City Times, he used many Democratic talking points.

"We need to structure our tax code so companies are better incentivized to hire here," he said.

As for infrastructure investment, Reyes supported an infrastructure bank, an idea pushed by President Barack Obama and Democrats and opposed by Republicans.

"[The bank] would leverage the private sector that wants to invest in smart infrastructure projects all across the country," he told the Quad-City Times.

On green jobs, he called for investments in clean-fuel technologies such as solar, wind and water power.

In December 2011, Reyes announced that he would, instead, run as an independent. That was after it became clear that Bustos, a former East Moline alderwoman, was the political establishment's choice as the Democratic nominee.

As a write-in candidate, Reyes got a fraction of the vote in the November general election. In a district redrawn by state legislative Democrats, Bustos beat incumbent Bobby Schilling, a Colona Republican.

Last week, Reyes said he ran as a Democrat because the party was a support system that included most of his family and friends.

Shortly before the election, Reyes told the liberal Progress Illinois that he would consider running for office again, but wouldn't say under which party's banner.

"I honestly don't know if I would run as a Democrat or a Republican," he said in a story on the group's website.

“I know that I have stepped on some toes in the Democratic Party. I know that Republican Party leaders love what I have done. I’ve been asked by several Republican Party officials to run as a Republican in the future. I was actually asked to run as a Republican for a different office before this primary season even started.”

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