Kailey Love | Photo Editor
Duquesne alum Todd McKinley is upholding the university’s longstanding and ongoing history of service by announcing a run for Congress in Tennessee’s first district.
After retiring from a 20 year career in the Army on Nov. 1, 2016 as a Sergeant First Class, which included tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and serving as a member of the White House Communications Agency for both the Bush and Obama administrations, McKinley decided it was time for a career change.
“I saw a need and said, you know what, I can do this,” McKinley said.
Running for elected office was always something that he had considered, but was not sure that he would be able to due to not being a part of the “status quo” of the political elite. After leaving the military, he decided otherwise.
On Sept. 9, 2017, McKinley announced his intention to run for the House of Representatives for the Republican party with the slogan “A Veteran with a Vision.”
“I have a good education, decent background…there’s no reason someone like me cannot do something to make a difference,” he said.
McKinley, who received his Masters of Science in Leadership with a concentration in global affairs from Duquesne online at the end of his tour in Afghanistan, referred to it as a “very well respected school.”
Running against current incumbent Rep. Phil Roe in the Aug. 2, 2018 primary, his ultimate focus is bettering the lives of the citizens he may represent in Tennessee’s first district.
“I want to represent the everyday person,” he said when asked about the goals of his campaign. “Come together and learn together about the issues that they face. They have been left alone for far too long…they have a place in society, and have been left alone by the status quo.”
After serving under two administrations (one Republican and one Democrat) in the White House Communications agency, McKinley believes that “partisanship has no place in protecting our country and the leaders of the free world,” according to a statement made on his campaign site.
McKinley plans to begin his campaign by participating in meet and greet events and visiting business incubators throughout the district in order to figure out what the needs of the community are and how to address those needs.
“I think it’s time for Congressman … to live up to their promises,” he said.
Enlisting in the military just after his 18th birthday and dedicating his entire early career to military service, a large part of his campaign platform is dedicated to bettering the lives of veterans.
“They lived up to their end of the bargain, their government needs to live up to their end of the bargain,” McKinley said of veterans. “They served us, now we need to serve them, let’s ensure our veterans get all the care they need and deserve.”
According to his campaign platform, he wishes to address and lower the rate of veteran suicide and homelessness, expand their access to healthcare and job opportunities, protect both the GI Bill and the Veteran’s Choice Act, and more.
“We can and must do better,” he said.
In addition to focusing on issues pertaining to veterans, McKinley would also like to focus on the reforming the tax system and the immigration system, emphasizing homeland security, the importance of Americanism, and of course healthcare.
In his campaign platform, he stated that bettering the health care system begins with repealing Obamacare, as has been promised by the GOP for years.
When asked about his stance, he said he “gets the sentiment to give everyone healthcare, but we shouldn’t allow a system that was made to fail people.”
Another important issue that he hopes to focus on is education, especially for the district he plans to represent. This includes repealing legislation such as Common Core and No Child Left Behind, which would return the control of education to states. McKinley also wants to do away with the Department of Education, promote free speech on college campuses, and supports school choice, stances that are outlined in his campaign platform.
“The school systems in northern Tennessee are not the worst in the country, but could be a lot better,” McKinley said on his plans to better education for his community.
“I’m running for the next generation.”