For Daniel Gade, service has long been a part of who he is “no matter the cost.”
Gade, who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C., secured the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate earlier this year during the only statewide primary and is now seeking to unseat two-term Democrat Mark R. Warner.
Prior to working at American University, Gade served as an Army lieutenant colonel. In 2004, Gade’s unit was deployed to Iraq.
His right leg was amputated after he was wounded. After about a year in the hospital, Gade went on to earn a Ph.D. in public administration and policy and worked on veteran issues and military health care as part of President George W. Bush’s administration.
Though experienced in several fields, this election is Gade’s first foray into politics as a candidate. Though new to it — and campaigning in unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the Republican nominee believes his education and experiences working under both Bush and in Barack Obama’s administration, have given him the necessary skills.
“Although being hurt in war is not a qualification for high office, what is a qualification for high office is a record of service that transcends party and that serves the people,” he said in an interview. “I consider a campaign to be nothing more than a job interview, just like I consider an elected position to be nothing more than job.”
Over the past few months, Gade said he’s worked to visit as many parts of the commonwealth as he can, from Southwest Virginia to Tidewater and Northern Virginia, where he calls home.
During these stops, Gade said it has become clear to him that Virginia voters want a senator who is not a “career politician,” and who will vote in their best interest, regardless of party lines.
“I’m no stranger to public service and I’m no stranger to personal sacrifice in the pursuit of public service,” he said. “But what I am is starkly different than the career politician Mark Warner, whom I’m running against.”
Gade has accused Warner of voting in line with the Democratic Party even when the values don’t align with the needs of Virginians.
“What career politicians are, above all, is loyal to their party, and I’ve been a non-partisan military professional for 25 years,” Gade said.
“I think the first time I registered as a Republican or even told anybody I was a Republican was like about a year ago when I came out as a candidate for U.S. Senate. So what I’m never going to do is be loyal to my party over the Constitution or be loyal to my party over the needs of Virginians.”
Outside of the pandemic, Gade said the biggest issue he sees facing Americans is distrust in the government.
“We have a breakdown of people’s trust in government because we have career politicians who are only willing to serve their party instead of career servants who are willing to serve the Constitution and the people of their state,” he said.
“What I’m focused on in my race is transcending that and serving the people of the commonwealth, whether they are Republican or Democrat, Black, brown or something else, and always seeking to serve them and the Constitution instead of being blindly loyal to my party.”
If elected, Gade said his top three priorities are COVID-19 recovery, with a focus on economic and health care recovery; education; and preventing politicians from using non-public information for personal gain.
“I’ve talked repeatedly about the Stop Insider Trading Act, which would require members of Congress to put their holdings in a blind trust when they’re elected, so they don’t have the opportunity to trade on that insider knowledge,” he said. “It’s more about restoring public trust in the people who are elected to these positions of public trust.”
Gade extended five debate invitations, three of which Warner agreed to. The first of those was held Wednesday.
The election is Nov. 3.