Merritt Hale photo

Merritt Hale

With the Republican primary for the U.S. House of Representatives 6th Congressional District on Tuesday, the two candidates vying for the nomination answered seven questions on topics facing constituents in the Shenandoah Valley and around the country.

Below are the responses from Merritt Hale, a 28-year-old Clear Brook resident who is a retired U.S. Navy officer. He said he is seeking the nomination to be a more proactive politician, and due to the lack of noteworthy congressional action for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, through which his late father received treatment before passing away.

He seeks the seat held by incumbent U.S. Rep. Ben Cline, R-Lexington.

What do you think about the proposed new gun legislation agreement coming out of the Senate?

I’m waiting for the Senate to publish the text of the bill but my key principles are that we must take common-sense measures to make sure our children are safe and that we protect due process and the Constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. I support legislation to make sure that our schools have adequate safety measures and that law enforcement has appropriate training and funding to respond to and immediately stop the threat of mass shooters.

With Roe v. Wade looking to be overturned, what should be done about abortion in this country?

I am 100 percent pro-life, except in the case of the mother’s life being genuinely at risk because it is then a life for a life. Where I think the Republican Party falls short is reaching out to young women who are in the situation of contemplating an abortion. We need to engage in outreach programs to people who are contemplating an abortion. We need to let them know that there are alternatives such as adoption, and provide a community that will support these mothers and their children throughout pregnancy and beyond. We as a country need to show love to mothers, fathers, and families going through a tough situation and also support the family after the child is born.

With inflation, supply chain issues, the labor shortages, how can the economy get started again?

Establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle have gotten us into this mess. We need to elect new leaders who can provide solutions. We need to reduce federal spending, get able-bodied Americans back in the workforce, and cut taxes. We have massive supply chain issues driving up costs for American families. Last week, the incumbent voted against an ocean shipping reform bill to fix these issues. Among Republicans, it passed 152-58. I’m not sure what the incumbent’s agenda is, but he is not putting Americans first.

How much and what kind of assistance should be given to Ukraine as Russia continues to invade their country?

The incumbent sided with President Biden in taking strategic deterrence off the table. He then voted with Nancy Pelosi to give Ukraine $40 billion after repeatedly voting against America first programs that would solve problems at home. So, he failed to proactively prevent a war which never should have happened and then reactively voted to spend $40 billion dollars of your taxpayer money to try and fix. I think we should help Ukraine, but not give them a blank check on the back of the American taxpayer. The incumbent has failed to put America first with his voting record. We need proactive politicians who understand foreign policy and fiscal responsibility.

Do you think former President Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election, and what should be done about what happened on Jan. 6?

I support President Trump’s right to call for investigations into any alleged improprieties. To date, the president’s legal team has not successfully proven voter fraud in court. Joe Biden is president and the Republican Party needs to focus on how our policies contrast with his and how to best move our country forward.

Locally in the district, is there any way you would address Interstate 81, the opioid epidemic and the situation for rural farmers?

While congressmen serve at the federal level, they must be able to provide funding for projects in their districts. The incumbent has been unable to secure any meaningful funding for our district. I-81 needs to be expanded. We’ve all driven on I-81 and we do not have enough lanes to support the traffic driving through the valley on a daily basis. We need to bring high-speed internet to large parts of our district. This will incentivize businesses to invest in our district and bring jobs. Providing more job opportunities will reduce our homeless population and help with the massive opioid problem our district faces. Bringing broadband internet to our district will also allow our farmers to have access to the data they need to help be competitive with other regions.

Anything else that would like to comment on?

No response.


Polls are open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The 6th Congressional District includes the counties of Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah, Rockingham, Page and more after recent redistricting aligned it with the Interstate 81 corridor to Roanoke.

Waynesboro resident Jennifer Lewis will be the Democratic challenger for the seat, which will be decided on Nov. 8.

Contact Charles Paullin at

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