KINGMAN - U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar has been identified as a tea party Republican during his two terms representing Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives, but that isn't a title he fully embraces. Gosar believes he is open to all of his constituents, regardless of politics.
"We've been inclusive of everybody's interest," said Gosar, of Prescott. "The tea party has been good to me because I'm a very conservative member of Congress."
A dentist for 25 years in Prescott before deciding to run for office for the first time in 2010, Gosar said he has no idea what his political future holds. He's living in the moment.
"I'm too busy holding the bureaucracy accountable," he said. "I'm a very good listener, and we need more listeners."
While relatively new to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., Gosar has landed a seat on two influential House committees - Natural Resources and Government Oversight - issues that are close to his heart.
Arizona's timber and mining are huge industries in
the state, he said, and there are untold resources available on millions of acres of land currently under the control of various federal agencies.
On the local level, Gosar, 55, worked alongside Mohave County supervisors and others to successfully advocate restocking the imperiled Willow Beach Fish Hatchery, which provides 1,700 jobs and $75 million a year in economic output for the county, he said.
"We love to bite hard when we get a hold of the federal government," he said.
Fishing metaphor aside, Gosar considers his work on the Government Oversight Committee to be among the most important of his duties. He considers the federal government too big, too unresponsive and too intrusive.
He has repeatedly brought up controversy regarding President Barack Obama's administration on a host of issues, such as the Fast and Furious gun debacle with Mexican cartels; the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya; wiretapping the media; the IRS political action committee controversy; and the Affordable Care Act.
"This has been one of the most action-packed oversight committees in recent history," said Gosar.
Here's his stand on other hot-button issues important to Mohave County Republicans:
"Guns don't kill people, people kill," he said. "We don't have a gun problem, we have a mental health crisis in this country. We need better interceptive care, because criminals will always have guns."
He said any discussion on immigration reform couldn't take place until the border is secured, using "all levels of law enforcement, from the alphabet soup of federal agencies to local police."
"We have to know who's coming in and who's leaving," he said, but don't think Gosar is against the principle of immigration. He even believes the process to gain legal access to the country needs to be streamlined to make it easier to immigrate to America.
He also believes the system in place that processes requests for political asylum should work faster. In the meantime, he advocates for his fellow citizens above immigrants - legal or otherwise.
"Americans first for the jobs," he said. That means employers will have to continue to e-verify prospective employees to ensure they are in the country legally.
All of this, he said, cannot be done in one massive piece of legislation, but rather, many smaller pieces.
"I'm really wrapped up in the immigration issue," he said.
Gosar believes the best way for the government to attract jobs is to "get out of the way" of business.
California's lawmakers failed to heed that advice, he said, and now already heavily taxed companies in that state face energy costs that are expected to quadruple over the next few years. All of this, he says, could create a mass business migration out of the Golden State.
Many of them might find friendlier confines in Arizona.
"They're making inquiries," he said. And while Gosar says any company that sets up shop anywhere in the state is a good thing, he admits his office touts the benefits of rural Arizona over the metropolitan areas.
For Gosar, the economy does best when the government plays a more passive role in how business is conducted.
"Government doesn't create jobs," he said. "Government gets out of the way and fosters an environment that is attractive to employers."
Gosar also believes that limiting the federal government's reach into public lands would also provide a spark to the state's economy.
He said restrictions must be placed on the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and, especially the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
"It's been a humbling pleasure to represent Mohave County," he said. "I've tried to get the federal government out of Arizona issues. I respect state rights and together we can get things done."
Gosar is married to Maude Gosar. The couple has three children.
Golden Valley Democrat Mikel Weisser has challenged him in the Nov. 4 general election.