"Based on my two years in the House, I'd say it's safe to say I was very outspoken," said former Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill. "I made a point to be very direct."
Walsh, 51, a tea-party activist who acknowledges that the term "lightning rod" applies to himself, said that not long after losing in November to now-Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., he was approached by an AM radio station in Chicago dubbed "The Answer" about doing a talk show.
"I'm guessing that them contacting me had something to do with my time on the Hill," said Walsh, who was known for his colorful language and no-compromise approach to governing in his one term.
"I'm here to raise hell," said Walsh of the three-hour show he hosts during the evening commute in the Chicago area. "The Illinois Republican Party is a damn joke. I've been going hard on them. I go after D.C. and Chicago, too. I go after [Chicago Mayor] Rahm Emanuel hard. One-third of each show is local and the other two-thirds is national. So I get to go after everybody."
The transition to radio was "on one level seamless, on another hard," Walsh said. "Sitting in a studio by myself, learning to speak in a different environment is tough. But I find it to be a great platform. I find the interaction to be great. And to be honest, it's not just tea-party activists listening in. My hunch is some of my listeners hate what I say."
Walsh said that the rule of thumb is two hours of prep per hour of show, and said that he keeps up to date by reading online publications and speaking with his former colleagues in Congress.
The radio show also provides Walsh with a venue to advocate for his Grow Up and Be Free PAC, an organization that Walsh calls a "grassroots movement" for people who look at the government and say, "Don't take care of me, I want to take care of myself." According to Walsh, the PAC also supports worthy candidates with money for campaigns.
"The battle lines are between people who believe in freedom and limited government and those that believe in dependence," said Walsh. "We're seeing a civil war in public policy. I'm doing the grassroots army, the PAC, because we've been trained for the government to give us crap. I'm trying to retrain the public."
Walsh added, "I miss the fight on Capitol Hill. It's taken a couple months to get used to it. I could run again next year. I could run again in two years. Who knows? I've been traveling the state continuing the fight for freedom-based liberty candidates. I started a PAC, I'm growing the movement. You better believe I'm gonna jump back in at some point."
National Journal Daily's Where Are They Now series catches up with lawmakers who left office in January to find out what they are doing. It will run throughout August.
This article appears in the August 26, 2013, edition of NJ Daily.