A Trump-inspired conservative Christian Republican, Bolena joins an ever-growing field of candidates for the Sixth Congressional District seat, which includes parts of Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs.
“I’m the outsider,” Bolena, 51, said in a phone interview. “I’m one of the people. I’m one of them. I’m not an elitist.”
He cites a better, more competitive national health insurance market as a domestic priority, and fighting terrorism as the top global issue. Describing himself as a “deplorable”—Hillary Clinton’s infamous insult for some Trump supporters—Bolena also uses Trump-style “hard language” and slurs in his social media, which he said he would tone down if elected.
Bolena is self-employed in trading stocks at his Sandy Springs home and sometimes does motivational speaking; he also sells self-published inspirational books with such titles as “Master Manipulator.” He said he previously worked as a customer service manager in State Farm’s insurance claims department.
In 2009, Bolena was in the news for helping to stop a Sandy Springs bank robbery by tackling the robber. Later that year, he ran for mayor, but drew only 115 votes in a landslide victory for city founder Eva Galambos. His main mayoral issue was criticizing the city’s famed outsourcing of most departments to out-of-state companies because it provides few local blue-collar jobs—one of the few issues where he says he leans “more to the left.”
In his books and campaign materials, Bolena mentions his 2011 arrest in Cumming on a DUI charge. In that case, he said in the interview, he was jailed for contempt of court for joking to the judge about the area being like TV’s “Green Acres” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” while the actual charge was reduced to reckless driving. He also was “stopped for DUI” while he was a college student, he said.
Bolena said his variety of experiences, including going to jail and being rich and poor at various times, help him to have sympathy for all sorts of people.
“I know I’m probably a little rough around the edges,” Bolena said. “But my point is, I don’t run from who I am…I think we need more people in office who are honest to a fault.”
In a 48-minute campaign video and on Twitter, Bolena frequently talks of beating up people he disagrees with politically—including President Obama—and uses vulgar insults and slurs, particularly for gay people and liberals. He also frequently says Muslims should not be welcome in America.
Bolena said that talk of violence is just expressing his passion, not something he would actually do, and that he uses “hard language” because it “seems to jolt a nerve.”
“I would not be saying anything like that as a congressman,” Bolena said. “I’m not going to go be mean to everyone.”
He said he is able to get along with anyone as long as they aren’t “forcing views on people…If you’re going to live in America, be an American.”
“I’ve said some things that are silly that I probably shouldn’t have said,” Bolena said. “But I’m a Christian. I’m strong in my faith and I love everyone.”
Bolena said that he knew he had no chance to win the Sandy Springs mayoral race and entered largely for “marketing” himself. The Congressional race would be different, he said, because it’s an open seat and he aims to raise enough money to win. He believes that, like Trump, he can make a surprise victory against establishment candidates, such as state Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta).
“Let the elitists come and run against me,” Bolena said.
Price’s seat could come open because he has been nominated as president-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services. His nomination still must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and he has not yet resigned his Congressional office. Another Sandy Springs resident, former Democratic state senator Ron Slotin, is among the several announced candidates. If Price’s nomination fails and the race doesn’t happen, Bolena said he is not interested in joining the 2017 Sandy Springs mayoral race.