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The race for statehouse seat 97 is featured with some quotes from AJ.
House District 97 (Indianapolis)
Two young candidates with ties to some of the state's most controversial politicians are battling for an open seat in a district that could go Democrat or Republican.
A.J. Feeney-Ruiz, a 32-year-old Republican who was spokesman for ousted Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White, is taking on Justin Moed, a 28-year-old Democrat who was once an aide to the House's former top Democrat, Pat Bauer.
The seat became open when Mary Ann Sullivan, a Democrat, decided to challenge Republican incumbent Brent Waltz for a spot in the State Senate.
Both candidates are trying to distinguish themselves with their issues.
"I think that the biggest difference is that I have private sector experience," Feeney-Ruiz said. "He doesn't. He comes from a professional lifetime of essentially working for Pat Bauer."
Feeney-Ruiz, who owns a business and media consulting company and has a stake in a software company, is focusing on job creation.
"Anybody running for office should be focused on how do we bring more jobs to Indiana," he said.
While Feeney-Ruiz is fiscally conservative, he calls himself a social moderate, which could help him win votes in a diverse district. And he's touting the importance of reaching across the aisle to passing legislation that's good for the state.
"I'm a Lugar Republican," he said. "I always have been. He was my political hero, and I'm not ashamed of that."Moed, who quit his job in state government to run for office and is now a home detention officer in Marion County, is trying to emphasize "servant leadership." He said he's proud that he has visited about 10,000 homes since March and sustained two dog bites, one of which ended in a five-hour hospital trip for treatment and a tetanus shot.
Those are the issues constituents care about, he said.
"They want government to listen," he said. "They want it to care and they want it to act, to do something. They don't care about party politics. They don't care about finger-pointing. They want solutions."
There's not a clear favorite in the race, Vargus said, but since the Republicans have more money, they could boost Feeney-Ruiz's chances in the weeks leading up to the election.
Read more about the close races here.
Check out AJ's most recent endorsment.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) has endorsed AJ in his bid to represent the near west and south sides of Indianapolis for House seat 97 in the Indiana General Assembly. NFIB's mission is to: "... promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses.", and "NFIB's SAFE Trust PAC supports proven business candidates who have committed to keeping small business in business."
AJ's own company, Cause.it, closely echos the mission of NFIB. Cause.it is an application that helps small businesses connect with, and donate to causes in their community. It organizes and tracks all of the business's revenue and donations directly linked to a specific cause, normally in terms of coupons and special offers, and turns that information into hard data that the business owner can use to grow their brand as well as help their community at the same time.
As a small business owner himself, AJ knows the challenges of running an business as well as the importance that they have in their community. His goal is to fight to eliminate red tape and free small businesses to grow and create jobs for Hoosiers.
Learn more about NFIB at there wesbite at nfib.com
Here is what Hoosiers for Economic Growth had to say about their support of AJ.
"At Hoosiers for Economic Growth (HEG) we are optimistic that Indiana can emerge from this economic downturn as a competitive leader in our nation if we continue to develop a first rate education system and a skilled workforce. In furtherance of this mission, we support public policies designed to promote economic growth, competitiveness, and a highly-prepared work force. We believe that improving K-12 education opportunities for young people should be a top-priority for our state.
Thank you for your support of this mission and for your strong stance in favor of parental school choice options for families and other meaningful education reforms. We wish you the best of luck in your campaign."
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AJ's Twitter chat is featured in the "Behind Closed Doors" series.
When politicians talk about experience, they typically tout their years of practicing law or perhaps a previous political position.
But when asked about his experience during a Twitter forum earlier this month, A.J. Feeney-Ruiz, the Republican candidate in Indiana House District 97, , cited his brief career as a professional Muay Thai kickboxer.
He later clarified that it's more of a personal quirk, not a qualification for the job.
"I think we take politicians a little too seriously," Feeney-Ruiz told us about his light-hearted comment. "We're not all stiff-collared bureaucrats. ... I think it's important to recognize that, that we're just all people at the end of the day."
Feeney-Ruiz, 32, said he practiced kickboxing for several years in Indianapolis and competed in one professional match during a six-month stint in Thailand in 2009. He said he won $25 to $50, enough to cover a month's rent in the country.
Another "quirk" that Feeney-Ruiz has mentioned during his campaign: He has more than 20 tattoos.
Check out the full story at IndyStar.com
AJ talks about the importance of Latinos in politics.
AJ Feeney-Ruiz, an Indianapolis Republican running for the state
legislature, was one of a handful of candidates flown to the convention
by the group’s Future Majority Project to participate in training
sessions, talk to media and be featured at the Cuban Club event.
“The whole premise of the Future Majority Project is this: Obviously, we know the demographics of the United States are changing. The demographics of Indiana are changing,” Feeney-Ruiz said, who is the grandson of Puerto Ricans who moved to the States. “If you’re going to tell a group of folks that, ‘Hey, you should be voting for us because we align on social issues, we align on economic issues but for some reason you’ve been voting with the Democratic Party,’ one of the best ways to show inclusion is to actually have candidates who reflect some of their cultural heritage.”
Feeney-Ruiz, though, indicated he supports a version of the DREAM Act,
including proposals by Rubio, to help those who already live in the U.S.
Asked if the bigger challenge was persuading Hispanic voters to vote Republican or persuading Republicans to take a different approach to immigration issues, Feeney-Ruiz said: “It’s a little bit of both.”
“Look at the demographics,” he said. “At some point you have to start expanding the tent.”
He thinks Republicans can win votes from a community that is culturally conservative by talking about jobs, education and neighborhood issues and not “divisive issues.”
Check out the full story at indystar.com
A New Face for House District 97
They are both young, professional, full of energy and both running for House District 97 in downtown Indianapolis. Republican AJ Feeney-Ruiz and Democrat Justin Moed are running for the seat being vacated by State Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan who is now running for the State Senate. Both candidates say jobs and the economy are their main issues. And they both believe a younger face will help bring a new perspective to the Indiana General Assembly. Indy Politics interviewed both candidates this past week and has embedded the interviews here.