Elections

U.S. Senate candidate wants some votes, like Zika funding, to be ‘secretive’

Coral Gables aviation businessman Tony Khoury, an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, meets with the Miami Herald’s editorial board on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.
Coral Gables aviation businessman Tony Khoury, an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, meets with the Miami Herald’s editorial board on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. Miami Herald / Periscope

One of the independent candidates running for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat this fall says he favors blind voting as a solution to the “hyper-partisanship” and gridlock of Congress.

Coral Gables aviation businessman Tony Khoury told the Miami Herald’s editorial board on Wednesday that “on certain hot issues” — like funding to combat the Zika virus — senators shouldn’t have to be pressured or labeled as having voted for or against a controversial measure.

“We should have 100 white marbles [and] 100 black marbles, and we should have a secretive vote so that way every senator will go in there and he has a choice,” Khoury said.

We should have a secretive vote so that way every senator will go in there and he has a choice.

Tony Khoury, independent candidate for U.S. Senate

Khoury said he isn’t concerned that if senators didn’t have to put their names behind their positions, their constituents wouldn’t know how their representatives voted.

“In certain issues, does it matter when they have good things happening for the American people? Does it matter?” Khoury told the editorial board. “The issue we had in February, the $1.9 billion which is now $1.1 [billion] for the Zika — do I really care who said ‘no’ against it? I don’t want to know.”

Khoury is one of four virtually unknown independent candidates running in a nationally watched Senate contest that’s almost exclusively been focused on its two frontrunners: Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy.

Khoury said one of the challenges he’s found running as an independent candidate is that “when you’re not identified with a party, you get shut out.”

MORE: Miami Herald Voters Guide

Khoury, 57, said he immigrated to the United States from Jerusalem 40 years ago and describes himself as a Palestinian Christian. He said he has “some progressive views, but I do support Mr. [Donald] Trump.”

Khoury said the Republican presidential nominee was an inspiration for him.

“[Trump] loves this country, he’s unselfish, he’s already a billionaire,” so he won’t be like other politicians who look to use public service as a stepping stone to wealth in the private sector, Khoury said.

When asked whether he was concerned by Trump’s sometimes xenophobic and divisive rhetoric, Khoury shrugged it off.

“Remember, he’s a businessman. He was acting a little bit and he had his own TV show,” he said. “This country — we need new outside leadership, better leadership with no interest to become billionaires.”

Khoury, who’s largely self-funding his campaign, argued he is the better option over Rubio and Murphy because he isn’t beholden to party loyalty or special interests. As of Aug. 10, Khoury had given more than $41,000 to his campaign and also loaned it $140,000, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Khoury also had harsh criticism for the two frontrunners.

He chided Rubio for getting campaign support from the billionaire Koch brothers and for previously running for president while serving in the Senate.

“Do not fool the people,” Khoury said. “We hired you for six years to be a senator. Be a senator. Show up to work and do your job.”

As for Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter, Khoury said: “I call him ‘Kid Murphy.’ He’s a 33-year-old with no life experience. His daddy happens to be a big millionaire, and he’s being courted by the Democratic Party so he can be a big donor for them.”

“The people of Florida deserve better leadership, new unselfish, leadership — such as myself,” Khoury said.

Aside from Murphy and Rubio, Libertarian Paul Stanton is also on the November ballot. The other independent candidates are Bruce Nathan, Steven Machat and Basil E. Dalack.

Kristen M. Clark: 850-222-3095, kclark@miamiherald.com, @ByKristenMClark

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