Most politicians think they work for the DC insiders who fund their campaigns, and forget they represent you. Well, it’s safe to say that I’m a little different. I’m not a career politician. I know that my job is fighting for your job. Here’s why:
I grew up living in a big family with five brothers and sisters. I had two strong parents who would relocate to wherever they could to find work and to provide for our family. From a rental house in Louisiana, to trailer parks in Florida and Tennessee, we moved seven times before I was sixteen, living paycheck to paycheck.
But I learned a lot during my childhood. I watched my parents work for everything they earned and it instilled in me a work ethic that would inspire me for the rest of my life. It taught me to never give up, no matter how tough things seemed.
At age 11, I became a newspaper delivery boy and I ran my route 7 days a week. On Sunday mornings, my dad would get up at 5 AM to help me fold the Sunday edition, pack my bike, and send me on my way. Being a paperboy was my first real experience with a job. I loved the responsibility and the freedom that came with it, and I never stopped working again.
When I graduated from high school I couldn’t afford college so I volunteered for the Air Force. However, a month before I was supposed to ship off to basic training, I got in a car accident and my dream of serving our country in the armed services was dashed.
Unsure of what to do next, I did what my parents had always taught me to do: Work. I got a job as a warehouse clerk and worked my way through night school. I ended up going to five different institutions to finish my college degree over 18 years, all the while raising a family with the love of my life, my wife Susan. Because of the opportunities provided to me by our great country, I worked my way up in high tech to become a partner at IBM. And now I have the honor and privilege of being your voice in the Senate where I’m working to provide you with the chance to achieve your American Dream.
As I look back at my upbringing, I realize it was a struggle. Every day was a battle but to be honest, I didn’t really know it. It’s just what we had to do. I’m proud of my family who beat the odds, and I’m glad I went through it because many folks across North Carolina are in the fight of their lives right now, and they want a leader who understands their challenges—someone who has been there.
For those of you who may have lost your job, for those of you whose grocery bags aren’t quite as full these days, and for those of you who are sitting at the kitchen table each night after you put your kids to bed trying to figure out how you’ll make it – You are what drives me to serve and I will never stop fighting for you.
I grew up with strong parents and humble people in humble places, and I take a little humility to the U.S. Senate, where it’s in short supply. This virus may have wrecked our economy, but we will build it back stronger than ever. And because of the experiences that shaped me, I’ll always remember who needs it the most.