Jay Torres always has a plan.
Right now, his plan is to become president. The 51-year-old Woodbridge resident has filed paperwork to run for president as a Republican in 2024.
Torres is ready to get his name out there and, speaking in a stream-of-consciousness about nearly every topic under the sun, he is confident: “I will certainly become president.”
Torres is a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army, with the last 10 working within the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native retired in 2016 and moved to Woodbridge, where he is running his campaign out of a renovated basement apartment.
“There was something in me that said you need to give more than what you’ve already given,” he said.
Torres sees himself as a “strong alternative” to mainstream candidates and relatable to voters. He sets his campaign up as part of the “new GOP.”
“It’s going to happen,” he said. “The new GOP is going to make its way over to Capitol Hill, and I’m certain that I’m going to be the one to command the support of the minority community and the American people.”
Spend an hour with Torres and you’ll have a tough time putting his political stances into the typical boxes. His ideas run the gamut and are more nuanced than the soundbites typical of the polished career politicians who run for president.
A microcosm of his nuanced views can come in his comments on immigration. In one breath, he offers a strong endorsement of a need to finish former President Donald Trump’s border wall, but in the next he’ll support a better path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country and rail against raids by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Torres opposes the controversial critical race theory, but says education needs to include more teachings around U.S. history and civics. He tied education into the discussions around police reform, advocating for several changes in law enforcement while also saying students should have mandatory classes on civil rights to better understand their rights during interactions with law enforcement.
Torres said he favors strict adherence to the Constitution, but said voters should have more frequent say on changes to it. His view on the presidency focuses on more direct democracy, with voters having greater say on what happens in Congress.
On health care, he said the Affordable Care Act was “good until it was enacted,” and Congressional changes to it caused premiums to skyrocket. He supports a blend of public and private health care options, as well as giving senior citizens a 50% discount on all prescription drugs.
Candidates often start campaigning several years before the presidential election. Trump filed for re-election on the day he was inaugurated in 2017, and several Democratic candidates started campaigning that year as well.
Torres is in the foundational stage of his campaign and said he’s almost completed his administrative staff. He’s been focusing on advertising and connecting with local, regional and national Republican leaders. He’s attended events and made media appearances in a few states and is spending a lot of time on research and networking.
“This is perfect timing,” he said. “It’s going to take this amount of time for me to saturate the nation with name recognition.”
Torres is one of 19 people who have filed as Republicans to run for the nation’s top office in 2024, according to the Federal Election Commission. Overall, 104 people have filed for the election.
Of others who have filed, 26 are independent candidates, seven are from a variety of third parties, 12 are write-in candidates, one is a Communist, and another is rapper Snoop Dogg, who has not officially announced a campaign.
Of the 16 Democratic campaigns, one is in the name of the late rapper Tupac Shakur and another in the name of the late Kurt Cobain, frontman of the 1990s grunge band Nirvana. It is unclear whether President Joe Biden plans to seek re-election in 2024.
No leading Republicans have submitted paperwork as many appear to be waiting to see what Trump will do.
Torres said he used to support Trump, but said “people are done” with Trump’s “nonsense” and “abrasiveness.” He said Trump bungled the response to the coronavirus pandemic and the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Torres said the Republicans are afraid of Trump and don’t want to upset the former president’s followers. Torres said he has no such qualms.
“I’m not worried about President Trump,” he said. “What do I have to lose?”