How a Socialist Beat One of Virginia’s Most Powerful Republicans

It’s fitting that Carter’s campaign ended with a shocking result, because it was inspired by a literal shock two summers ago. I was installing lighting control systems and I got shocked because the lighting control panel I was working on was miswired by an electrician,” he told me in Manassas last month. “I got a 245-volt shockin one hand, out the otherright across the chest.” He blew out his back in the incident. He could barely walk for months. His frustrating battle with the state to get workers’ compensation for his injury inspired him to enter politics. “When I was able to walk again,” he told me, “I decided I’m not just going to walk. I’m going to run for something because nobody should have to go through this.”

Carter came to his political ideology recently—as in, just last year. “I was actually already running by the time I considered socialism as an economic philosophy,” he told me. “My introduction to it actually came through the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. He went out there and said, ‘I’m a democratic socialist. Here’s what that means: It means I believe in strong unions, health care for everybody, and an end to discrimination.’ Well, that’s what I believe in, too. I dug a little more into it, and I realized a lot of the problems we have in today’s society reflected in electoral politics are symptoms of economic problems.”

Carter said he’s “always been a bit to the left of where the Democratic Party was, and a little dissatisfied with what they were doing on a large scale, and never knew why. It wasn’t until Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign that I put two and two together. I looked up to guys like FDR and Democrats of that era who were really rooted in working class politics. They had these mass movements of union workers who stood up and said ‘we’re not going to be mistreated by corporate interests anymore,’ and they were able to achieve 50 year of stability and…

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