Why I’m Running for Governor

The reason I first ran for the state legislature didn’t start in a courtroom or in a lobbying firm or anywhere near Richmond, to be honest. It started in a little town on the Eastern Shore where I grew up on my family’s farm and spent a lot of time fishing and working on the Chesapeake Bay.

My best days were spent outside with my dad, talking — and listening — about life and my future. I’ve never forgotten the lessons he taught me out on the Bay — that everyone deserves a fair shot and that when you’re as blessed as I am, you’ve got a responsibility to stand up for what’s right. I carry that with me every day.

I grew up, went to the Virginia Military Institute and then medical school, married my wife Pam, served in the United States Army, and moved back to Hampton Roads. Pam and I bought a house to raise our family, and I started taking my son Wes and daughter Aubrey fishing.

It was clear the Chesapeake Bay wasn’t doing well. Oyster reefs were vanishing, the blue crab stock was depleted, and there were fewer and fewer watermen out working. I’d take Wes and Aubrey to the fishing holes of my youth, where I could always count on catching stripers, cobia, and red drum, but the fish weren’t there. This wasn’t the Bay I had grown up on.

At the same time, I was setting up my medical practice and volunteering at a pediatric hospice. Not only was our Bay in a state of disrepair, but Virginia families were hurting. Too often, medical treatment plans would be determined not by the needs of the patient or the advice of the physician, but by the bottom lines of insurance companies. I began to spend more time on hold with them than I did with my patients.

I had two options: I could keep complaining, or I could do what my dad taught me and stick up for what was right. I chose to do something.

I was the underdog in a state senate race against a two-term Republican incumbent, but I won. Eventually, I ran for lieutenant governor.

Unfortunately, this means I don’t spend as many days fishing as I used to. But I still spend a lot of days listening —

To the single mom who’s worried her son will get to kindergarten already behind his classmates because she couldn’t afford to send him to a quality pre-K program.

To the father of one of my patients who is worried that President Trump and congressional Republicans will repeal the ACA — and his daughter’s health insurance with it.

And to the young couple in my hometown who want to set up a life like Pam and I did 30-something years ago but are worried they’ll have to move across the state to do it.

As much progress as we’ve made, it’s clear that President Trump’s opposition to our values — and our willingness to defend them — will define the next administration. This race is our first chance to show President Trump that we’re not going down without a fight. Virginians deserve someone in Richmond who will always have their back. That’s what I’ve always done, and that’s why I’m running for governor.