In a Republican state senate primary with two familiar faces, Mike Buscher is working to set himself apart.
The Leesburg resident, former Army Special Operations officer, retired CIA officer, entrepreneur and cancer survivor said the thing that sets him apart from the two county supervisors in the race is his 30 years of public service.
“I may not be known in the county, but both in the federal and state circles they know me as somebody that has dedicated three decades to public services, three decades to federal services, to the military, to community victims, to nonprofits,” Buscher said.
As a 17-year-old, Buscher enlisted in the Army, eventually working his way up through the ranks, becoming an officer and earning promotion to captain before being recruited to the Central Intelligence Agency. In 2010, he founded Vanguard Defense Industries, a multi-million-dollar company that develops drones for the private sector, law enforcement and military use. He sold that company, and has since worked as a senior executive at risk management firm Constellis Group and at Camber Corporation/Huntington Ingalls Industries. Today, he is vice president at billion-dollar defense and intelligence contractor Peraton.
His résumé also includes the Loudoun County Reserve Medical Corps Civil Air Patrol, Leesburg Composite Squadron and coaching Central Loudon County Little League. And he is a survivor of Non-Hodkin’s Lymphoma, and serves on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society “Light the Night” Executive Committee, which helps raise millions of dollars for cancer research.
He’s running in the Republican primary for the 13th District seat in the state Senate, one of three announced candidates seeking to replace retiring Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13). He is up against county supervisors Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin), who has Black’s endorsement, and Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run). He said he plans to draft legislation to control tolls on the Dulles Greenway, oppose increased restrictions on guns, and develop a traffic management plan for the region.
“For me, school safety is priority number one,” Buscher said, pointing out he is the only one in the race with children in Loudoun County Public Schools. He said he supports a proposal by Sheriff Michael Chapman to put a sheriff’s deputy in every one of Loudoun’s 58 elementary schools.
“My wife and I, every single day, we send our son off into the epicenter of tragedy into America, and for us not to want to take action and improve that environment is wrong,” Buscher said. He said is “adamantly opposed” to arming teachers, and said his role in the state Senate would be to help provide funding to put school resource officers in every school.
“Having a professional in that school who’s actually trained to handle incidents like that, shooting incidents like that, is absolutely critical,” Buscher said.
One way he distinguishes himself: he does not shy away from questions about Black’s record. Black made national headlines many times for publicly supporting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, who has been accused of war crimes for his forces’ attacks on Syrian civilians; for opposing the criminalization of marital rape; and on social issues such as introducing bills that would prevent homosexual couples from adopting or applying for some mortgages. Buscher said he “made it very clear from the beginning I wasn’t going to be seeking Sen. Black’s endorsement.”
“I would hope I’d be able to draw a distinction between myself and Dick Black,” Buscher said of his fellow military veteran. “I respect Dick Black for what he did for the country, I respect what he did for the state, but Dick Black’s approach and my approach are very, very different.”
He was particularly critical of Black’s stance on Al-Assad.
“While we had U.S. troops on the ground fighting that regime, he was in Damascus meeting with the president of Syria and being used as part of the Syrian propaganda—allowing himself to be part of the Syrian propaganda machine,” Buscher said. As a former Army officer, Buscher said he found that “inexcusable.”
He also distinguishes himself from Black’s methods on some topics on which they agree, such as opposition to abortion or tighter gun restrictions.
“I’m a Republican, a lifelong Republican, but there seems to be this attitude within the party,” Buscher said, “If you express any desire to work with Democrats, any willingness to find common ground, there’s a sense that you’re not a true Republican. I couldn’t disagree more.”
He said political leaders must sit down and at least hear out the other side—and his own part should reach out to younger voters. He said one focus of his campaign will be on approaching the 18-to-25-year-old demographic.
“I think that’s a demographic that has long since been ignored in the 13th District, and really it’s been ignored for the most part except by the Democrats in the state of Virginia,” Buscher said. “… It is a misunderstanding of what they can bring to the table.”
Shortly after that comment, Buscher’s coffee shop interview was put on hold while he held a lengthy conversation about politics with a Liberty University student sitting at the next table who said hello after looking at the painting hanging on the wall behind Buscher’s head.
Buscher said his life experience has been leading up to this race and said he is “committed to making a difference.”
“All I’m asking for is the opportunity to do for the people of Virginia what I’ve done for the country as a whole,” Buscher said.
Learn more about Buscher’s campaign at buscher4senate.com.