Ten of the 11 candidates in the Republican primary for the 10th Congressional District met for a forum at Patrick Henry College on April 21, facing questions from a friendly student body.
John Beatty, Dave Beckwith, Húng Cao, Mike Clancy, Theresa Coates Ellis, John Henley, Jeanine Lawson, Caleb Max, Brandon Michon, and Brooke Taylor took questions on topics, such as a question referencing the Biden administration’s “failures in Afghanistan and Ukraine;” when life begins, to which they all answered “at conception;” and U.S. energy independence, for which the majority answer was to do more fossil fuel extraction in the U.S.
Candidates sought to distinguish themselves based on their experience and their chances for beating the incumbent, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10).
Caleb Max, entrepreneur, grandson of longtime 10th District Congressman Frank Wolf, and the youngest person in the race, said Democrats hold a strong advantage with people 25 and younger in the district and that winning over his generation will be key in the 10th District.
“By 2032, my generation will be the biggest voting bloc in the country, and I don’t care how good looking or how much money you have—we are facing an onslaught and if we don’t start winning these hearts and minds soon, we are facing an onslaught as Republicans that we will not be able to overcome,” Max said. “We must take the fight to Jennifer Wexton and these radical Democrats.”
Loudoun County School Board member John Beatty, who works as the IT director at The Heights School in Potomac, MD, said “we need people to step up, bring us together, to help us discover our common humanity so that we can all make politics local again” and “big tech has so much control over our life.”
“But no one in Congress understands that. Big tech comes in and they run circles around them in these hearings, and we need a programmer in Congress who can speak the language of big tech,” Beatty said.
Beckwith, a former military program manager and engineer and retired Air Force colonel, pointed to his experience in program management.
“After watching what the administration has done with the help of Jennifer Wexton over the last year, my passion is to change the direction of this country, not just for me, but for my three children and for my District 10 citizens,” he said.
Húng Cao is a refugee from Vietnam who retired as a Navy Captain after 25 years, a career that includes diving to salvage plane wreckage and recovering John F. Kennedy Jr, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and Lauren Bessette; and is a member of the inaugural graduating class at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He and his family established a nonprofit which builds beeping Easter Eggs for children with visual impairments.
He said “everything they’re teaching in this left-wing, woke ideology, this is communism. And I know a lot about communism because I escaped it.”
“This country’s not perfect, OK, but what is perfect is that the American spirit, how we’re able to invent the light bulb, the automobile, the plane,” he said. “We put a man on the moon, we invented the radio, the telephone, we did all this stuff without the help of government. My job is to get government out of this.” Some of those inventions are credited in Europe; the first manned mission to the moon was accomplished by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an agency of the U.S. government.
Attorney and Oracle Corporation Senior Vice President Mike Clancy highlighted his time on Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s technology and cybersecurity transition team. He pointed to his expertise in law and cybersecurity and targeted President Joe Biden on executive orders, blaming them for many long-standing problems.
“In Congress, I’ll fight for legislation to rescind Biden’s executive orders that created the border crisis, and the drug trafficking, and the human trafficking at our border, to rescind his executive orders that are stifling domestic energy production and created an economic crisis and record gas prices, and to rescind his executive orders that have created an unconstitutional process equity agenda that’s harming our country, and our schools, and our college campuses,” Clancy said.
Manassas City Council member Theresa Coates Ellis said, “we need to have someone win this primary that can win the general,” pointing out she is the only Republican on the city council, and to the healthcare management company she started.
“I want to make sure I get our economy back on track. I know how to slash expenses. I’ve run a company, contracted with doctors, I’ve own clinics. I’m going to look into education and making sure you have choice,” she said.
Air Force veteran John Henley talked about his military experience, rising from enlisted to colonel and including in space operations. He also served the Joint Staff and in the Office of Air Force Legislative Liaison, where he helped write the proposal for the Space Force. He said men and women in uniform “deserve a Congress who understands what national security decisions mean” and targeted transgender people.
“Why is this race important? Look at our border. You look at the forced vaccinations. You look at schools, you look what’s being forced down our throats. You look at men competing in women’s sports, and that should not happen in the United States of America,” Henley said.
He also defended people accused of attacking the U.S. capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.
“There’s no Republicans down there, stepping up, stepping forward, saying ‘no, it doesn’t matter if you trespass, you still have constitutional rights,’” he said.
Prince William County Supervisor Jeanine Lawson pointed to her experience as an elected official, where she said she has worked to lower taxes and to support a program to use local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, which Prince William ended in 2020, a decision of the Prince William–Manassas Regional Jail Board.
“I am proud to stand up for the Second Amendment. I am unashamedly pro-life. I believe and I know that our God never makes mistakes, life begins at conception, no exception. I will defend—I will proudly defend life at every stage in the womb,” she said. “I have won in tough races in Prince William County by standing to our conservative values, not running away from them, not negotiating them.”
Max said the country faces “generational challenges that aren’t going to get solved overnight,” such as inflation, on the border, and international rivals like China.
“When I get to Congress, I’m never going to back down on our Constitutional rights and values. I’m going to fight to make sure that that not only my generation, but the people of the fine 10th District, have all the opportunities that previous generations were provided. We must do it. Time is running out,” he said.
Brandon Michon is likely the most nationally well-known candidate, going viral on conservative media in a video of him screaming at the Loudoun County School Board to “figure it out” and reopen schools during the pandemic, and later announcing his candidacy on national Fox News talk show Tucker Carlson Tonight. He said he has also had conversations with Youngkin’s office about his campaign about how to flip the district.
“We’re going to do it on three things: Education, safety, the economy,” he said. He also pointed to his career as an investment banker: “I’m the only candidate here who has the complex financial background to be able to understand how this is a very difficult economy.”
And Brooke Taylor pointed to work both as an educator at Christian universities and in nuclear security, as well as being a single mother.
“2016 opened the way in Washington for people like me, that are not of pedigree, popularity, or a textbook politician, to have a place in public service. I found myself on Capitol Hill, working on appropriations and managing the Nuclear Security Working Group,” Taylor said. “I decided to jump into this race in the beginning of February, because you could just see the revival in the state for the Republican Party under Governor Youngkin.”
Republicans will pick their candidate for the 10th Congressional District in the November general election during a ranked-choice voting distributed caucus Saturday, May 21. Find information about the caucus and candidates at vagop10.org.