Eight months ago, when I decided to run for Congress to represent #VA08, I knew from the very outset how much the odds were stacked against me. Running as an independent who refused to take a penny from corporations and special interests, qualifying for the ballot let alone winning the election was an uphill battle.
Despite the obstacles, I had faith that constituents in my district and Americans as a whole were ready for an alternative to a political process that was monopolized by the Democrat and Republican parties that was built on the foundation of tearing society apart and pitting us against each other.
But faith was not going to be enough to qualify as a candidate, I had to work relentlessly in order to field a viable campaign. Within three months of announcing my candidacy, I gathered 1500 signatures on my own while working full time and driving Uber part time. Upon qualifying to have my name printed on the general election ballot, in between work and taking care of my son, I dedicated as many hours as I could to meet constituents and campaign throughout Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church City and South Fairfax.
Along the way, I had the honor of sharing the stage with fellow candidates Don Beyer and Karina Lipsman. The journey culminated this evening as the results came in, though I did not win the election, I gained something even greater. My faith that people would gravitate to a campaign that was rooted in unity and that refuses to incite emotions for the sake of political expediency was affirmed.
Though the votes are still being tallied, so far over 3600 people voted for me. Considering that I only raised and spent $450 during this campaign season and that I entered at the last minute, I am awed by the outcome. There is something else that I learned throughout this campaign that I has deeply impacted my outlook. Not too long ago, I made it a point to roundly bash politicians and criticized people in power, but having the chance to meet Don Beyer and Karina Lipsman made me realize that all of us, irrespective of our class or station in life, are in this together.
If we are to make a U-turn away from tribalism and redeem our country, we will only be able to do so if we get rid of all traces of “us versus them” thinking and instead honor our common humanity without exclusion. From rich to poor, black or white, left or right and all social and political divisions will have to give way to a shift in our collective minds that embraces what we have in common more instead of fighting based on our differences. I want to take this moment to congratulate Congressman Don Beyer for winning the election tonight and also commend Karina Lipsman for running a spirited campaign.
I will take a moment to reflect on the lessons I have learned over the past 8 months and then make a decision on a way forward. Whether I seek another campaign or not only time will tell, but I can tell you for a fact that I am dedicated to speaking up for our common humanity and standing up for inclusive justice.