EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 6, 2013

Methuen man plans GOP challenge to Tsongas in 2014

By Douglas Moser

---- — METHUEN — A Methuen man has already filed papers forming his campaign committee to challenge Congresswoman Niki Tsongas in 2014 as a Republican.

Timothy Imholt, 41, sent his campaign papers to federal election officials just six weeks after the 2012 election wrapped up and before the winners were even sworn in for their new terms.

Imholt, a physicist who works for Raytheon and Army veteran, said he filed so early to take the deliberative approach he takes in his professional life to coming up with policy ideas and to campaigning and governing.

“I am a scientist. We don’t do things that aren’t well planned,” he said. “Planning, organizing and doing things exactly right, with high precision, implies you have to allow yourself ample time to work. Research is important and that takes time. This country is facing huge problems, and anyone who thinks they can just solve all the problems facing this country without an enormous amount of preparation is incorrect.”

Social Security is an issue he said neither party has the only right answer. Imholt said the answers for ballooning Social Security outlays, which many fear will outstrip payroll tax revenue and deplete the trust reserve as the baby boomer generation retires, are bigger than the bumper stickers and sound bytes the parties usually issue.

“Social Security is going to become the biggest or one of the biggest budget items,” he said. “You’ve got to fix it. One side says expand benefits; the other side says privatize. Neither of those work. We’ve got to find something in the middle that works.”

Imholt plans to spend the next six to 12 months fleshing out his ideas and formulating some solutions to issues like immigration, housing and the economic climate.

He likes ideas from both parties, but leans Republican because of its small-government mindset when thinking about national issues.

“I’m a Republican because I agree with 75 percent of their stuff,” he said. “The Democrats, I probably agree with about 60 percent of their stuff. I think both parties have good solutions, but I like the way the Republican party looks to solve problems.”

For example, he said he supported the need to regulate finance and lending after the financial crisis in 2008, which was the driving force behind the Dodd-Frank finance reform law passed in 2010.

But “the execution needs a lot of help” because it creates a lot of one-size-fits-all rules and categories and removes decision making authority from banks.

Imholt is married with three young children. His wife is a chemical engineer whom he met at Raytheon.

Born in Ohio, Imholt enlisted in the Army before going to college and eventually earning a PhD in experimental physics.

His Federal Election Commission committee papers were dated Dec. 29, and they were received early last month.

The nomination papers, which include signatures forms, were not available from the state in 2012 until February of that year, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.

To run for the U.S. House of Representatives, 2,000 signatures are required to qualify for the primary ballot.

Jon Golnik, the Republican who ran unsuccessfully against Tsongas during the last two elections, and Tom Weaver, who challenged Golnik for the Republican nomination last summer, did not return calls seeking comment on their 2014 plans.

Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat in office since 2007, said it is a little early to be thinking of the next election. “The election is two years away and right now Congresswoman Tsongas is focused on her work representing the people of the Third District in Congress, such as serving in her new leadership role on the House Armed Services Committee, which she announced today,” she said in a statement.

She was appointed as the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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