Meet West Virginia Progressive Zach Shrewsbury
I’ve been speaking with dedicated West Virginia progressive, Zach Shrewsbury— politically a Bernie kind of guy, not a Joe Manchin kind of guy. In fact, Zach has just launched a campaign for the Senate seat Manchin holds– and may or may not run for next year. Blue America endorsed Zach today and we’re hoping you’ll contribute to his 100% grassroots campaign here. Bernie did extremely well in the 2016 West Virginia primaries, besting Hillary statewide and beating Trump’s vote totals in county after county. These are the voters who are Shrewbury’s base of support.
He’s a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, community organizer and a West Virginia political activist. He grew up on a farm in Monroe County, attended James Monroe High School and played soccer. Once he graduated it became clear he had very limited choices— working a minimum wage job, going to college, working the coal mines or joining the military. “The four choices,” he told me, “presented to most West Virginians every day. I couldn’t survive working minimum wage. The coal mines, though they paid well, were always being shut down or laying off workers or changing hands, even though they had plenty of profit, so the lack of the stability and low wages left me with trying what a lot of us did. College. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford 4 years of higher education and I didn’t want to drive myself into student loan debt. Even in 2009, I was acutely aware that accumulating student loan debt would be detrimental for me, so I avoided driving myself into that financial burden. Instead, I joined the USMC as an infantryman and served part of it on a Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team. Five years later my amazing son was born, I had made life long friendships and saw portions of the world very different from Monroe County. I also realized how bad things had become back home.”
I asked Zach to share his odyssey with us to help us get to know who he, why he’s running and how he’s going to flip what everyone outside of West Virginia says is the “reddest” state in the whole country. Please take a look at what he has to say and consider getting behind a real effort to defeat multi-millionaire elitists Joe Manchin and Jim Justice.
West Virginia– Changing The Trajectory
-by Zach Shrewsbury
Once I left the USMC, I began political organizing in Seattle with organizations fighting for wage increases and universal healthcare as well as for social justice issues. That was 2016 and Bernie Sanders was running for president. Experiencing his campaign threw fuel on a fire that was already burning– turning it into a raging inferno. After a number of years, life led me back to my home state of West Virginia. Our economy is in disarray, with multiple crises unfolding and the working class is persistently trapped in poverty due to the influence of our corrupt politicians. This situation serves as, yet another, stark illustration of the destructive impact of corruption on America’s systems.
Since I’ve moved back home I’ve made it my mission to change the current state of affairs and to amplify working class voices. I’ve engaged in/organized community actions for feeding the homeless and providing clothes to people in need. I’ve organized and assisted with cleanup and supply drives when natural disaster struck. I’ve assisted in harm reduction to help tackle the addiction crisis, and have worked on multiple political campaigns in an effort to elect good people to office. I’ve advocated strongly for renewable energy, traveling all over West Virginia assisting towns in applying for grants to receive funding for these initiatives. I believe in a system led by the worker, not by the wealthy few.
So how do I beat Senator Manchin and the Republican Jim Justice in the primary and general election? There hasn’t been a candidate with my background or my aggressive politics. I am cut from the working class and both my opponents are not. I served in the USMC as an infantryman. I’ve been all across my home state listening to everyone I can. The choice is clear here. Republicans and Democrats alike are fed up with the wealthy elites keeping their polished boots on our necks. Joe Manchin and Jim Justice are the exact same. Rich, out of touch men who make their wealth destroying our home. West Virginians want someone they can relate to, someone who understands them, someone who lives in their neighborhoods, someone who has shared similar experiences, someone who talks to them and listens to what they have to say. I’m that person! Also let’s face facts, the Democratic Party lacks anyone who will unabashedly stand up to the Republicans and corporations that buy their allegiance. I carry my beliefs with conviction. Someone from the working class should be leading our struggle, not an uncaring and out of touch coal baron.
I am the hardest-working organizer and political operative in this state and I’ll say that with confidence. I’ll cover the whole state in a day, volunteering for causes and participating at multiple events, as I have been doing for quite awhile. No one in this race will out work me! I am here to work for all of us and our futures.
I’ve laid the groundwork for this campaign for almost a year quietly, recruiting county captains and volunteers as my opponents sat and just continued their backstabbing of my state as they watch their donations climb.
My message crosses party lines because I am fighting the same class struggle we are all in together. I will continue fighting for all of us, to show our neighbors and the coming generation that you can and you should run for office. The working class people of West Virginia must stand together and lead the charge for change. We must also remain resolute in our beliefs as we face a system built on the broken backs of Appalachian labor.