Entrepreneur Graham Veysey converted an abandoned fire house in Cleveland into an office and enthusiastically offers people tours of the restored building. Now he's hoping he can convert the March 6 Democratic primary congressional contest between two political war horses into a three-way race.
At 29, Mr. Veysey is vying in the 9th Congressional District with U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo and Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland. Early voting for the March 6 election starts Jan. 31.
The youthful-looking Mr. Veysey was born the year Miss Kaptur first ran for Congress, 1982, and he says both Miss Kaptur and Mr. Kucinich bear responsibility for the unbalanced budget.
"We have a $15 trillion debt, which just equalled our economic output. We're not addressing the fiscal emergency that we're in," Mr. Veysey said. "They broke it. It's my generation that's going to have to fix it. We can do better.
"Being outspent by a million dollars and having never run for elective office, our challenge is letting people know there's an alternative," he said.
At 6 a.m. Thursday, Mr. Veysey stood outside the Jeep plant in North Toledo to greet arriving and departing workers. Later in the morning he was interviewed by The Blade at a South Toledo diner.
Mr. Veysey's challenge was made clear when he went over to greet a table of retired men at the diner. Several indicated they were backing Miss Kaptur. Mr. Veysey gamely shook hands and introduced himself.
"I would say we were 100 percent Marcy," Marty Jordan, 66, a retired union crane operator, said of his table of friends, all of whom belong to the Placers Car Club and meet at the diner monthly. "I mean, she's going to be very hard to unseat."
Mr. Veysey said he plans to campaign hard to offer himself as the alternative to what he called "same-old, same-old."
Mr. Veysey said he grew up in Shaker Heights outside Cleveland and went to Bates College in Maine, where he majored in political science and environmental studies. He worked on a statewide campaign for a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and volunteered in 2004 for Howard Dean's presidential campaign. In 2008, he worked for the Obama campaign as a field organizer in Lawrence County, Ohio.
After that, he started North Water Partners video company, which he said has won Emmy awards. The company produces video spots and TV shows for clients. Another business is the Ohio City Firehouse on West 29th Street in which he rents studio and office space. The Ohio City "artisans' neighborhood" in west Cleveland where Mr. Veysey lives is outside the 9th District. He says he'll move into the district if he's elected.
Asked what is the solution to the $15 trillion debt, he said, "there is no silver bullet -- it's more like silver buckshot," meaning a wide variety of solutions must be used. To name just one change he supports -- he said he would eliminate the $106,000 cap on income that's subject to Social Security taxes. He'd also simplify the tax code and eliminate some deductions.
Mr. Veysey said that his target is not only traditional Democratic voters but also independent and Republican voters who might be willing to pull a Democratic ballot.
Contact Tom Troy at email@example.com or 419-724-6058.