Former NFL player, Army veteran and Arkansas Senate primary candidate Jake Bequette says he’s “not going to sit idly” by while the “radical left takes over” American institutions.
Bequette on July 12 became the latest Republican to launch a 2022 primary challenge against two-term GOP Arkansas Sen. John Boozman – he raised more than $25,000 in the first week of his candidacy.
“There’s hope for the future,” Bequette told Fox News on Tuesday. “… I believe in this country. I’m a patriot, and I want to be able to lead a better life for future generations than the one that we had. And I…feel called to be in this race, and I feel like I have a lot to offer to my state, to the country. And I’m not going to sit idly by while the radical left takes over the rest of the American institutions that we once held dear.”
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The 32-year-old, who was born and raised in Little Rock, was an All-SEC defensive end and an Academic All-American as a star football player for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
He went on to play in the National Football League (NFL) and was a member of Super Bowl XLIX champion New England Patriots. He later left the NFL and volunteered in the military, serving in the 101st Airborne Division in the Iraq War.
Bequette is running to be the youngest sitting U.S. senator next to Sen. John Ossoff, D-Georgia, who is 34. The Army veteran expressed hope for the future of the Republican Party and young conservatives.
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“Our time is now,” he said when asked whether he had a message to young conservatives. “If we’re not going to stand up and take this country back, then no one is. We can’t be waiting around for an invitation to take our rightful place in leadership. We have to stand up and make our names known.”
He added that he thinks the country is “seeing a lot of really exciting young leaders rise up in the conservative movement.”
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The former football star, who describes himself as a “political outsider,” took issue with both Democratic socialist leaders and the establishment left — naming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, R-Calif., and House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., specifically — as well as the establishment right.
“Washington is failing America,” Bequette said. “… Part of the problem [is] the radical socialists and the Democrat Party — Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer — and another part of the problem [is] the career politicians and the Republican Party who simply refuse to stand up and fight for what’s right. And I’m not a career politician.”
The Army veteran said serving in the military “was the greatest honor of [his] life,” and when he returned from Iraq “and saw what was happening… in our country over the last year, 18 months — the violence polluting our streets, the suppression of our economy, just the devastation — I realized at my service wasn’t finished.”
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He added that he sees his campaign as a continuation of his oath to the country as a servicemember.
“I joined the army to be in the fight to stand up for my beliefs, and when I returned from Iraq, I realize that the fight is not on a distant battlefield. … It’s right here. It’s political.”
Bequette becomes the third Republican in the very red state of Arkansas to primary challenge Sen. John Boozman, following former gubernatorial candidate Jan Morgan and pastor Heath Loftis.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.