Col. Gary Van Valin (USAF Ret.), former chairman of the Military Affairs Advisory Committee Chairman for U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., is featured in a new ad from Republican Heather Wilson’s campaign in which he endorses her for the open U.S. Senate seat.
In the ad, he says:
“I have worked closely with both Congressman Heinrich and Heather Wilson. When it comes to the defense cuts that are coming our way, I think Heather will do a better job protecting the labs and the military installations in New Mexico. I’m the former chair of the Martin Heinrich Military Affairs Committee and I’m voting for Heather Wilson.”
Van Valin knows Wilson and Heinrich quite well. From 1994 to 1995, he worked with Wilson at Keystone International, Inc., a New Mexico-based defense consulting firm, she incorporated in 1991. In 1996, he purchased the company and assumed the position of president and chief executive officer.
As chair of Heinrich’s advisory committee, Van Valin worked with Heinrich in 2010 on helping to find a new mission for the “TACOS” at Kirtland Air Force base when the historic 150th Air National Guard fighter wing lost its F-16 fighter jets.
Van Valin is a registered Democrat and even contributed $500 in 2008 to U.S. Rep. Heinrich’s Congressional campaign. He has been an active Democrat and ran for office himself, both for the Legislature and for the U.S House. He ran unsuccessfully in the 1998 Democratic primary for the First Congressional District. That year Democrat Phil Maloof won his party’s nomination. If Van Valin had won, he would have run against the woman he is endorsing for U.S. Senate – Heather Wilson.
Why is Van Valin, a combat veteran and retired fighter pilot, splitting his ticket this year? He said he’s very concerned about defense cuts and, in particular, the drastic cuts slated in the 2011 Budget Control Act, known as “sequestration” and the harmful effects on New Mexico defense workers and national security.
I interviewed him by phone today. Here’s what he said…
“I am very concerned about the roughly $450 billion in cuts that are being implemented now and those that will come with sequestration – another $500 billion of across the board cuts over 10 years. Those cuts would blow management economies and efficiencies right out of the water.”