ROCKVILLE, Md. - Independent US Senate candidate Neal Simon released his first TV ad Tuesday, calling on voters to challenge the hyper-partisan political status quo "Together."
"I'm Neal Simon; I am the son of an immigrant, and a family man, and now I am running for the US Senate, unaffiliated with any party because they're (points to US Capitol Building) playing partisan games and getting nothing done, and it is crippling America." Simon says in the 30-second ad.
In an interview with IVN, Simon said "Together" is one of the primary themes of his campaign -- uniting policymakers across the political aisle and Americans who have been divided on so many lines because of our politics.
"The people of Maryland and the people of this country are tired of the divisiveness, and they are desperate for us to come together and that is one of the things I want to do in the Senate," he said.
It seems like the greatest challenge in our politics is to bring both sides to the table for long-term, common sense solutions to our nation's biggest issues, but it is challenge Simon accepts. And it starts, he says, from the middle.
"Take, for example, immigration," he said. "The solutions are fairly obvious for most people, other than the people in our legislative branch. We should do a couple of things the Democrats are proposing, a couple of things the Republicans are proposing, and the American people are ready for our legislative branch to get something done."
On the subject of immigration, I asked Simon to weigh in on the president's repeated threats to shut down the government over immigration disputes with Democrats. Simon said he was appalled that elected officials would use the threat of a government shutdown to get their way.
"There are several hundred thousand citizens of Maryland that work for the federal government, and they should not be used as pawns," he said. "My leadership style, rather than take extreme positions and use threats, is to try to listen and find common ground."
Simon added that what we have in the Senate today is the opposite of this. He said we have leaders who think the "answer to our country's problems is screaming louder at the other side." And the people have had enough.
"The people of this country are so tired of this," he said.
"They are so tired of the two sides fighting on everything, villainizing each other constantly, trying to win news cycles, trying to win elections, focused on raising money. The people of this country want our legislative branch to make progress on important issues.
He said he heard this frustration with party-first politics during the "Listening Tour" he completed in May -- visiting all 23 counties in Maryland and the city of Baltimore. He said he was saddened by the lack of trust in government and its institutions, and said people broadly don't think our elected officials are preparing us for the future.
"We need to take back the Senate from the far left and the far right," he said. "The far left and the far right together are causing us to have complete dysfunction in our government. It's fueled by partisan narratives on both sides, and most of America feels unrepresented."
It is interesting to note that Neal Simon said he will caucus with either major party in the Senate, and contrary to popular belief, he doesn't have to. He said the Founders intended to have people in the legislature who represented people, "not Chuck Schumer or Mitch McConnell," and that is what he intends to do -- "caucus with the people."
Neal Simon submitted over 12,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot. According to his campaign, he has outraised incumbent Democratic Senator Ben Cardin with individual contributors. He has also been endorsed by the national centrist group Unite America, and has the support of the bipartisan group, No Labels.