Yesterday, my friend and colleague Roger Dean ("RD") Huffstetler announced his candidacy for the United States Congress, representing the 5th District of Virginia. He will run as a Democrat, which, given the district, would give a typical candidate an uphill battle—and against an incumbent no less. But, this is no ordinary candidate. It won't be easy, but he can win. And he should win. That would be a great thing for Virginians and for Americans. Here's why.
A moderate Democrat. I don't know about you, but I am tired of the country being governed by the extreme fringes. It doesn't reflect our nation as a whole, nor its best interests, and it is in fact anti-democratic. I have not seen a formal platform from the campaign yet, but I know from many conversations that RD is a centrist—plain and simple. He has a firm belief in market forces and incentive structures, but also understands that this economy is not working for everyone. He knows that government can and should play a role in ensuring that every American has the right to dream.
Right temperament. He is also a pragmatist. RD grew up in conservative rural America, where even his centrist views were seen as radical. That exposure has given him an understanding and a respect for other people's views—even those he strongly opposes. They are friends, family, neighbors, and former teammates. The rancor in Washington is ruining our ability to govern ourselves, and tearing apart our social fabric as we increasingly sort ourselves into homogenized cultural safe spaces. Tom Garrett, the incumbent, is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which as RD put aptly:
“I think we should be clear that, in the history of the country, there has been no more partisan or reckless group than the House Freedom Caucus. They don't believe in progress, they don't believe in compromise, and those are going to be two pillars of my campaign."
Service to country. RD served in Afghanistan and Iraq in the Marine Corps. Later, he would serve as Chief of Staff to fellow Marine Corps veteran and former classmate, Congressman Seth Moulton—who represents the 6th District of Massachusetts. In addition to his business career, RD knows first-hand how Washington works—and his love of country cannot be questioned.
A track record of getting things done. RD is also a veteran of the business world—having worked for five years in Silicon Valley, including at Twilio, a cloud communications platform that IPO'd in 2016, just eight years after founding. RD co-founded a data science platform company that was backed by two of Silicon Valley's most prestigious investors—DFJ and Y Combinator. Washington needs more leadership and experience in getting things accomplished like RD has, not just another career politician.
Humble beginnings, self made. Research has shown that, sadly, upward mobility is a thing of the past in America. RD is an exception to that rule, and his own hard work—along with many helping hands, as he often humbly reminds—is what got him there. Raised in rural Georgia by parents who didn't attend college, RD secured his higher education through the Hope Scholarship, and later, through the GI Bill, graduating from Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Better balance in Washington. Say what you will about the ideological worldview or the personal character failings of our current leadership in Washington—I can disagree with those, respectfully, and vote against them at the ballot box, as others legitimately have a right to support (and did). But, what concerns me most about our current leadership is its ability to competently and safely govern our country. The 5th District of Virginia has a real shot at being flipped in the upcoming 2018 midterm election, and Americans of all stripes should welcome that.
A damn fine human being. Above all, I have known RD to be a compassionate, caring friend, citizen, and neighbor. He is fair-minded, reasonable, and genuinely wants to put this country back on track—not just through legislating and governing, but through a uniting rhetoric, and through a leadership that brings us together as a nation. I cannot think of a person better suited for this challenge, and I cannot think of a better time where that leadership is needed.
. . .
If you're from the district, I highly recommend you vote for him. If you're not, I hope you'll get involved in supporting him. This is a winnable seat, but it's still an uphill climb. And, it will take everything we have to make sure that happens. Vote #RDforVA www.rdforva.com. Thank you.
The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They do not necessarily represent the views of RD Huffstetler or of his campaign.