Skip to comments.Amputee Iraq veteran runs for office
Posted on 09/07/2006 6:31:06 AM PDT by Tatze
PADUCAH, Ky. - When he lost both of his legs in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq, Robbie Doughty was no longer able to serve his country on the battlefield. But if things go his way this fall, he hopes to serve his community as an elected official.
Doughty is a candidate for county commissioner in western Kentucky's Marshall County. Though several Iraq veterans made headlines this year by running for Congress, a handful of others are also trying to enter public service by trying to win seats on city councils, county boards and in state legislatures.
The 31-year-old Doughty is trying to unseat the incumbent Democrat in the county where he grew up, not far from Fort Campbell, where his Green Beret unit was based.
"It's somewhat daunting, but it won't be any worse than being in combat in Iraq," Doughty said.
Around the country, recent veterans are already serving on the city council in Jersey City, N.J., and Grand Forks, N.D. They're running for the state legislature in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Texas, a Marine decided to run for county clerk after absentee ballots failed to arrive for some of the members of his battalion stationed in Iraq in 2004.
"It brings a fresh perspective to community leadership," said Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of the VoteVets.org political action committee.
Doughty's military career was cut short two years ago after he was seriously injured in an attack on his Humvee. After a long rehabilitation including getting fitted for and learning to use prosthetic legs Doughty thought about new careers. In the Army since high school, he considered becoming a teacher, physician's assistant and even a Kentucky State Police dispatcher. He ultimately decided to open a pizza franchise with an Army buddy this fall.
But Doughty also knew he'd miss public service, so he contacted the state Republican Party to inquire about running for office.
"It's nothing short of miraculous, the drive and determination he has," said Russ Randall, the Republican district chairman. "We're very fortunate that he decided to come back to Marshall County after his accident."
Though some local observers say he stands a good chance for an upset, county Democrats disagree, saying incumbent Jerry English's record will prevail.
"I don't think he could do as good of a job as Jerry could do because of the simple fact that Jerry's done it and has a lot of experience," said Howard Dawes, Democratic chairman in Marshall County.
But some Iraq veterans who ran for office found that experience on the battlefield can sometimes be more valuable than political experience when it comes to winning.
In Jersey City, N.J., city council member Steven Fulop won his seat in May 2005 against an incumbent who had been endorsed by the mayor and a Democratic congressman.
"I was a fresh face and an individual who's served the country," said Fulop, who was part of a Marine engineering battalion in Iraq in 2003. "I think that actually resonated with people."
Doughty hopes that will be true for him, but he also knows he'll have to persuade people to vote for him based on issues like taxes, roads, commercial development and job opportunities. And he knows county commissioners sometimes have to deal with angry residents.
"It's really personal and in-your-face," he said. "Our decisions are going to impact a family just as much as a congressman or president's."
In Texas, James Crabtree decided to run for office for just that reason. When he was serving in Iraq in 2004, he and about 100 other Marines didn't receive absentee ballots from Travis County in time for them to vote. Now, Crabtree is running for county clerk.
"The last thing I expected to do was run for county clerk," said Crabtree, who returned home from Iraq last year. "But I had a lot of people start talking to me about it. The more I thought about it the more I realized I don't have anything to lose."
The list of Iraq veterans running for Congress has been whittled down to six from at least 12 after some dropped out or lost primaries.
While Iraq veterans running for Congress will attract more national attention, Winfield Rose, a political science professor at Murray State University in Murray, Ky., said he predicts communities will see more veterans like Doughty and Crabtree. It will be similar to the influx of veterans running for public office following World War II, he said.
"I think they come back with a greater awareness of and appreciation for their country and the freedoms they have," Rose said.
Good for him, I hope he wins!!
His Senate seat is waiting.
If he were an anti-war Democrat, it would be on the front page of every major national paper.
That was a clue to me that he wasn't a democrat. I had trouble finding it at all till I read your post.
Good for him, I hope he wins!!
I agree! Good luck, Mr. Doughty!
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Dr. Rose, you are correct.
this guy ought to be getting more publicity. http://www.vote4frank.com/
Frank Anetori he was a green beret too. Running for congress in Arizonia. He has a book out about his battle in Iraq "Rough Neck Nine" its a really good read. He is a REAL conservative too.
Isn't it insensitive to say he's "running."
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