Criminal Justice Reform Champion Rep. Walt Blackman Jumps into Arizona Congressional Race

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Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake) is running for Congress in Arizona’s first Congressional district. The seat, which encompasses much of the northeast part of the state, is currently held by Tom O’Halleran, a former Republican turned moderate Democrat.

“We need to get back to the rule of law of Arizona to protect its people,” the Arizona legislator said in a recent video discussing his run. Blackman is disappointed with O’Halleran’s performance in office. “Tom O’Halleran has been in office for six years, and not coincidentally, has been absent in Arizona for 6 years.  We only see him when he wants our vote, then goes right back to Washington to do the bidding of Nancy Pelosi and her socialist squad.  He didn’t even show up in his hometown when it was on fire last month.”

Elected to the Arizona House in 2018, Blackman made a name for himself in the legislature as a black conservative spearheading criminal justice legislation. This year, Governor Doug Ducey signed his bill HB 2166 (to be A.R.S. 41-2408), setting up a database of information on deadly police encounters and giving the public access to it.

Last year, Blackman’s sentencing reform bill HB 2808 passed out of the House 60-0 but did not make it into law. He tried again this year with SB 1064 but was again unsuccessful. The bill relaxes sentencing laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation, resulting in the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the nation. Inmates are required to serve 85 percent of their sentences. If they complete self-improvement programs such as substance abuse treatment and maintain good behavior while in prison, the bill would allow them to receive up to two-thirds off their sentences.

He intends to pursue similar legislation if elected to Congress. Blackman told the Arizona Sun Times, “I plan on introducing legislation to build on President Trump’s once-in-a-generation criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act. We can do this by pursuing Earned Release Credit, just like I did in the Arizona State Legislature.”

He added:

Programs such as family reintegration, Drug rehabilitation, job programs and transitory resources will be available for inmates that have served their time, and are ready to transition back into our communities. The Earned Release Credit program could generate up to $680 million in new revenue for Arizona.”

Blackman is a strong opponent of abortion. He proposed “homicide by abortion” legislation, HB 2650, which would require prosecutors to charge women who decide to get abortions and the doctors who perform the procedures with homicide. He refers to Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization. While serving in the legislature, he wrote 87 pieces of legislation.

Other issues he champions are opioid use and education. However, he said, “taxing Arizonans is not the answer” for K-12. “Finding new revenue streams to fund education is the way forward.” He said other key issues for him are, “Shortage of water and electricity in homes on the Navajo Nation, election integrity, securing our southern border, inflation, our out-of-control national debt. In addition, I’ll prioritize the protection of our constitutional and civil liberties, and work to stop the spread of socialism at home and abroad by bolstering America’s economic competitiveness.”

While a legislator, he was endorsed by Arizona Right to Life, the NRA, the Payson Tea Party, the Arizona FOP Police Association, and more. The Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona listed him as one of 14 legislators in their “Top Defenders of Liberty 2020.”

During a rally earlier this month in Queen Creek, he praised former President Donald Trump. “President Trump was a gift from God to us and when they did not certify him as the president, God said to us, ‘I will be with you as I was with President Trump,’” he said. He backed investigations into voter fraud after the 2020 election, resulting in progressives calling to ban him and six other conservative legislators from the Arizona Legislature.

He doesn’t view his skin color as a big deal. “I was not elected because of the color of my skin. I was elected because the people of LD6 and CD1 needed a leader who would step up to our state’s challenges.”

Blackman comes from a military background. He served in the U.S. Army as an officer as well as a tank commander for 21 years. He received a Bronze Star for combat action in Iraq as well as a Meritorious Service Medal.

District 1 encompasses all of Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Graham, and Greenlee counties as well as parts of Yavapai, Gila, Pinal, and Pima counties. Blackman frequently posts videos online where he discusses political issues.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].

 

 

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