After a couple of months of mulling it over, Scott Donaldson is ready to announce his candidacy for the 11th Congressional District.
The Democrat had weighed the decision for a while, but after a discussion with his wife, he knew his window of opportunity was quickly closing.
“She was like, ‘if you do this, you have to do this right. You can’t go half-way on it,’” Donaldson said.
In announcing, Donaldson, 53, will be taking on one of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful insiders, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
Donaldson, who was born in Dallas but has lived in North Carolina most of his life, works as a urologist in Hendersonville, but has also made a name for himself in certain circles with a series of YouTube videos, radio show appearances and even a published book.
His area of expertise, predictably, is healthcare. He is especially concerned with the current state of the industry and would prefer to see a system that provides healthcare for all.
In particular, Donaldson talked about his young adult kids, who he describes as hardworking but still unable to get passable healthcare.
“They feel like they can’t afford to go in the front door to get health care,” Donaldson said. “They can go in the back door, which I call the emergency room, but they can’t go straight to a doctor’s office.”
“There is an intent to deny fellow citizens healthcare and it seems by design,” he added.
Although healthcare is both his area of expertise and the issue he cares about the most, he acknowledges that he needs to address other serious issues, particularly balancing the budget and education.
“I also fully realize there are other issues,” he said. “But there’s plenty of money in healthcare. It’s just in the wrong pockets.”
Donaldson’s congressional campaign isn’t his first foray into politics. A few years back, he made a run at a Henderson County Commissioner seat which ultimately fell short. Although the loss set him back a bit, he said he deems it a learning experience.
“I was an independent and independents don’t really win,” he said. “But losses are more valuable than wins.”
Local Democratic party officials are happy to see Donaldson run, largely because — with Phillip Price already campaigning across the district — it gives voters in the party a choice between two candidates who bring different ideals to the table, Donaldson being more progressive and Price being more moderate.
“The 11th Congressional District Democratic Party welcomes Scott Donaldson as a candidate for U.S. Congress,” Kathy Sinclair, the organization's chairman, said in a statement emailed to the Mountaineer. “Having a choice in the Democratic primary benefits all voters, allowing working families to speak on their own behalf. We look forward to both Democratic candidates running strong campaigns for a Democratic victory in November 2018.”
“In this situation, in this type of race, it’s good to have another candidate,” Myrna Campbell said, adding that Donaldson is likely to pick up some of those who would have voted for failed candidate Matt Coffay. “I think Price and Donaldson will appeal to two separate groups of voters.”
In addition, as has been proven in elections past, the candidate who survives the primary is usually able to roll into the general election stronger and more polished.
Donaldson noted that he already has some promiment members of Henderson County backing his candidacy.
“There have been a number of people who have offered to help,” he said. “They’re just waiting for me to announce.”
Although Donaldson comes into his campaign with some momentum and Price has already been hitting the trail hard, either candidate would face an uphill battle against political powerhouse Meadows in a district which is one of the most conservative in the state.
Donaldson admitted he needs to start raising some serious money.
“I have to have money,” he said. “Campaigns are not done for free, and I certainly don’t have the wealth to fund my own campaign, so we’re fundraising through my website and other places.”
Haywood County Democrat Joe Sam Queen’s advice to Donaldson was simply a caution against running.
“He told me I was too smart to run for Congress,” Donaldson joked. “But I want to prove him wrong.”