EXCLUSIVE: A veteran Air Force pilot and top-level commander announced Tuesday he was launching a campaign for Congress because the moment for the nation was "too important" to leave to career politicians.
Republican and former Brigadier General Chris "Mookie" Walker, who served four decades in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot, and later as the commander of the West Virginia Air National Guard, told Fox News Digital he's "not done fighting" for the people of his state, and that he planned to hold leaders' "feet to the fire" as the representative of his state's 2nd Congressional District.
"I learned some things while I was deployed overseas. America is only safe when we're strong. I've seen it come from every angle. Current senior leaders, sorry to say, have weakened us," Walker said when asked why he decided to jump into the race.
"I'm not done fighting for West Virginia. There are a lot of things that I wanted to do as a general in the Air Force, but I was not permitted to because of the politics. And I said, OK, when I retire, I'm not going to be just some old man shaking my fist on the porch about these things. I'm gonna get in there and fight for them," he said.
Walker grew up in New York City to what he described as "strict Jamaican parents," who he said instilled the values of hard work and patriotism that ultimately led him to the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he was commissioned as an Air Force officer.
"I spent 40 years in uniform, deployed to nearly every continent, seeing all sorts of cultures, seeing all sorts of people, seeing how the world really works," he said while describing his near-countless overseas experiences that led him to places like the Middle East, Africa, Japan, Europe and even flying in hurricanes, which he called "an insane thing to do."
Walker described his time at the Pentagon as what drove him to want to be in a position to enact true change.
"Anyone who goes to the Pentagon and said they loved it, they're lying to you. It is a grind, and it's full of politics, which it should not be," he said. "The politics are for the politicians and for the civilian side. But that being said, I learned how to maneuver my way through the upper echelons of the Air Force and the DoD."
"That's when I said, OK, a lot of the things that are detracting from our greatness as a country, there's nothing I can do about it in uniform. And that started getting me in the mindset that I have to get into politics in order to change things," he said. "As a member of the United States House of Representatives, I actually will be able to affect that positively by holding the DoD leaders' feet to the fire."
Walker said his top priority if elected to Congress in November would be to address the border crisis, which he said was responsible for American streets being flooded with drugs and crime, and the left's "indoctrination" of children in schools.
"Down in kindergarten and elementary school and junior high, they're trying to get certain concepts into the minds of these kids. And you know what I'm talking about," he said. When I was growing up … I had no idea whether my teachers were married or not or who they were married to. So I don't see why that is so important to tell the kids."
"These are the things that are bothering me. And I think, at least in West Virginia, we need a self-made warrior protecting our West Virginian values for our next generation. And they need somebody who's out there winning battles, not merely casting votes," he said.
Walker joins a crowded Republican primary field that includes Riley Moore, West Virginia's current state treasurer.
"Look, I respect Riley Moore. I appreciate what he's done in state government as the state treasurer, but in my opinion, and a lot of people's opinions, dynasties don't work. Just because his grandfather was a former governor doesn't make him best qualified," he said.
"I think that this moment is too important to send another career politician to Washington, D.C. Again, I'm a pugilist. For all the things that are important to West Virginians, I will be the thorn in the side of the left, whereas others are, I think, going to just be there meekly casting votes," he added.
West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District is considered a safe Republican seat. It is currently represented by Republican Rep. Alex Mooney, who is running for Senate. The GOP primary is scheduled for May 14.