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LETTER: Caucus for R.D. Huffstetler

<p>R.D. Huffstetler understands the struggles and dignity of our rural communities.</p>

R.D. Huffstetler understands the struggles and dignity of our rural communities.

This week, students will caucus to nominate a Democratic candidate. Ideally they will choose one who can connect with voters across the district and defeat Tom Garrett, an incredibly conservative Republican congressman.

The Fifth District is tough for any Democrat. Charlottesville and Albemarle account for just over 20 percent of votes cast, while the rest are cast in predominantly blue collar, rural areas. Trump won the district by 11 points. We won’t defeat Garrett on Democratic turnout alone. We need a candidate who can bring a progressive message to all parts of the district. 

R.D. Huffstetler is that candidate. R.D. understands the struggles and dignity of our rural communities. He grew up in rural Georgia where his dad worked a union job for Ford. R.D. was the first in his family to graduate college. After 9/11, he dropped out of graduate school at Harvard and joined the Marines. Afterwards, he used the G.I. Bill to attend Harvard Business School which led him to cutting edge work in Silicon Valley.

His experience growing up and education in business has informed R.D.’s robust jobs plans that will create an inclusive economy and take inequality head on. This is a crucial issue in a district that has fallen behind the rest of Virginia since 2000. His background will also allow him to connect and communicate progressive messages on healthcare, the environment and gun control to people in rural communities. 

R.D. Huffstetler can be our Conor Lamb — the Democrat who just won in a district that voted for Trump by 20 points. Lamb was a marine, who connected with his voters because he grew up just like them. R.D. can do the same for us. If Conor Lamb can flip a district blue, so can we, but we need to nominate the right person for the job. That person is R.D. Huffstetler. 

Austin Hall is a fourth-year College student.