KEARNEY — Col. Tom Brewer officially launched his bid for the 3rd Congressional District today in Kearney by promising to bring leadership to the seat if elected.
Brewer, 55, of Gordon has served six tours in Afghanistan and was wounded twice in ambushes while overseas. Although his wounds forced him to retire to civilian life, Brewer said he's not ready to stop serving his country.
“I still feel a passion to do something to better the community, better the state and maybe better the nation,” he said. “I want to continue by being the representative of the 3rd District in Washington, D.C.”
He seeks to wrest the GOP nomination from U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, who has represented the district in Congress since 2007 and who has strong ties with the Nebraska Republican Party.
Brewer said he believes voters need someone who isn’t a career politician to represent them in Congress.
“I think the critical part of it is that you have a comparison to make between someone who has a lifetime of experience in many different roles, or you have a professional politician who is simply that,” he said. “When you look at a resume, when you want to decide who is that representative you should have, that resume should be full of experience and life skills, and not simply being a politician. That, of itself, is little value.”
His platform includes low taxes, reducing the national debt, balancing the budget and protecting gun rights. He also spoke about immigration reform, military spending, and preserving the 3rd District’s way of life.
“I believe Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are among the most hard-working, efficient and most versatile business people in the world,” he said.
He also had strong words about recent cutbacks made to military spending.
“Cuts to the people who serve and have served this great nation for so long serve to injure the heart of America,” he said. “We must protect veterans’ rights that they have earned and stop rewarding those who contribute nothing to our nation.”
Brewer has lived for more than 20 years in Murdock, east of Lincoln in the 1st Congressional District. He also owns a house in the 3rd District in Gordon, where he said he has set up residency.
Brewer made it clear in an interview with The Omaha World-Herald, however, he doesn’t have a “beef” with Smith. He could not identify a single vote cast by Smith that he opposed. He said his main concern with Smith is his leadership style.
Brewer said Smith — who holds a seat on Congress’ powerful Ways and Means Committee — has been nearly invisible since Nebraskans sent him to Congress.
This will be the first time Smith faces a strong primary opponent since he made his first run for Congress in 2006, defeating four other GOP candidates.
Brewer is a widely known figure in Nebraska military and veteran circles. He served 36 years in the military, with most of those years in the Nebraska National Guard. He also led the Nebraska Guard on a mission to New Orleans in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.
Brewer grew up on a farm-ranch operation in Nebraska about nine miles north of Gordon near the South Dakota border. His mother was a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and he and his family frequently visited family on the neighboring Pine Ridge Reservation.