News Opinions / Op-eds

Op-Ed: The Unexpected Candidate

When it comes to Idaho politics, I’m not a household name. That’s because before July 15, 2021, I wasn’t sure that I’d actually run for office. As a former Army officer and dedicated businessman, politics were far from my priority. But before I explain what motivated me to run for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in Idaho, perhaps I should take a moment to tell my story.

I was born in Lakewood, NJ in 1987. My biological mother had wrestled with the idea of whether to have me or not. Eventually, she decided to give birth and give me away. That decision led to her abandoning me at the hospital as a newborn. After being paraded around by the staff, a nurse named Millie, who assisted with my birth, took me home. She became my adoptive mother and has been part of my life since day one.

I spent most of my childhood in southern New Jersey. My family lived on a small farm in Jackson Township where we raised horses and other livestock. My mom was a single parent who raised three children while working full-time and running our farm. When it comes to upbringing, I was raised from a very early age to respect and cherish our country. Hard work was a cornerstone for our family; everyone pulled their weight. My siblings and I were often up before dawn, taking care of chores before school.

In 2002 we moved to Hedgesville, WV where I stayed until I completed high school. I was an active teenager who participated in student government, worked a part-time job, played sports, and was involved with the church. After graduating, I studied at The Pennsylvania State University for one semester. I left college after deciding to enlist in the Army National Guard as a Cavalry Scout. This decision wasn’t wildly popular at first, but my family ultimately supported me.

After a short sabbatical, I returned to college as an Army ROTC cadet at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. In 2009 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and received my commission in the United States Army.

As an active duty Infantry Officer, I served in Georgia where I completed the U.S. Army Ranger School; Germany where I participated in various rotations in Europe and deployed to Afghanistan; and Virginia where I honored our Fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. My time in the army was life changing. It expanded my worldview and gave me the opportunity to work with men and women from around the country. All of us with different backgrounds and experiences, but connected through our willingness to sacrifice our lives in service to our country and for each other.

In 2014, I transitioned into the U.S Army Reserve and began working for The Heritage Foundation; a conservative think tank in Washington, DC. I was hired to run Heritage’s workplaces services team but was quickly promoted to a department director. While working at Heritage I also went back to school, earning a Master of Public Administration degree from The Pennsylvania State University.

In 2018, my wife and I moved to Idaho. I was attracted to the state because of its natural beauty, its strong conservative culture, and the opportunities for growth. I fell in love with it thanks to the people. During our travels I’ve heard a few people say that they’re American by birth and Idahoan by choice; I couldn’t agree more. Idaho has become our adopted state and our home; I’m proud to call myself an Idahoan. Since moving to Idaho, I’ve had the opportunity to work in management positions at U.S. Bank, and Rimôn Law.

So why did I decide to run for Senate? As previously stated, I’ve always admired and appreciated our American values of liberty, democracy, opportunity, and hard work. That’s why I was drawn to serve in the U.S. Army as a young adult. Service to me was a no-brainer; I was excited to give back to our country. Through my military service, I came to appreciate everything that makes America such a wonderful place to live. The freedoms that we enjoy here are unlike anywhere else in the world. America is truly a wonderful place and I feel blessed to be a citizen of this great nation.

That being said, becoming a politician was never on my radar. I’ve always been more comfortable working behind the scenes. However, over the last 18 months I’ve had an unshakable feeling that I could do more to contribute to our country. Earlier this year, after a heated and divisive election cycle, I made the decision to explore running for office. The decision was initially inspired by a few people who thought that I’d make a good representative. At first, the concept seemed undesirable and nearly impossible. I don’t have a political background and I’m virtually unknown in Idaho. But as I started to talk to more Idahoans, I quickly met many people who were not just open to the idea, they were excited.

These folks openly expressed their frustrations with some of our current representatives, and their desire to have someone new run for Senate. Many said that they felt like the voices of Idaho were being muffled by the distractions of the Capital. These interactions ultimately cemented my decision to run for office. After years of being on the sidelines, it was finally time for me to stand up and act.

Now I’m more than just willing to run, I’m fired up, and that excitement grows with every conversation with voters. If elected, my goal is to be the strong conservative voice that Idahoans are looking for. Someone who won’t cave to special interest groups or lobbyists, or be satisfied by the status quo. My philosophy is simple: limit the power of the federal government and return it to the people. That’s why I want to champion term limits for Congress, decreased federal spending, and the reduction of over burdensome laws and regulations. The federal government has become too big and powerful; it’s time that we the people put it back in its box.

I’m looking forward to this journey, and to being a champion for Idaho’s voters.

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