Live from Virginia Tuesday morning on The John Fredericks Show – weekdays on WNTW AM 820/ FM 92.7 – Richmond, WJFN FM 100.5 – Central Virginia, WMPH AM 1010 / FM 100.1 / FM 96.9 (7-9 PM) Hampton Roads, WBRG AM 1050 / FM 105.1 – Lynchburg/Roanoke and Weekdays 6-10 am and 24/7 Stream – host Fredericks welcomed candidate for Congress in Virginia’s fifth district Cameron Webb to the program.
During the show, Webb highlighted some of his past accolades working in the White House under Obama and through the transition to the Trump administration.
Fredericks: Joining us now one of the best candidates the Democrats have put up in a Republican district. Dr. Cameron Webb with us. Dr. Webb, great to have you with us.
Webb: Thanks for having me, John. Great to be here.
Fredericks: So Cameron let me ask you this. You are district five. Denver Riggleman won this in the so-called blue wave in 2018 where the Democrats took control. He won that by seven over a pretty good candidate Leslie Cockburn. And I read her book.
One of the only people that actually did read it before criticizing her FYI. Also, Tom Garrett 2016 when Trump was on the ballot won by 17. So at best this looks likes plus 15, something like that. How do you win Dr. Webb in a district that on paper is very red with Trump on the ballot.
Webb: You run in a district like this by not being a traditional politician by any sort. And I don’t know how many Democrats have worked in the Trump White House. How many Democrats show up on your show regularly? And like I said I’m happy to have conversations with folks no matter their political ideology.
So I think it starts with just being engaging with folks and having real conversations being willing to listen to a range of views and engage in a range of views authentically. That’s how it starts. And I think from there it’s just about showing people who you are authentically and doing the work every day. So that’s what it looks like to me and so far it seems to be working.
Fredericks: So this is your first run at a political office Dr. Webb. You are in a tough district. But the Republican nominee Bob Good, there was a lot of controversy over that convention. Also, he’s got some positions that I wouldn’t exactly call mainstream. Do you want to comment on some of those Cameron?
Webb: Yes. I think the first thing is that convention I think a lot of people recognized that congressman Riggleman certainly had an advantage not just name recognition but as somebody whose views were more moderate. I think he appeals to a wider swath of the electors here. So you know he’s somebody who is very libertarian in terms of his streak. And I think that appealed to a lot of people.
When I decided to run for this seat I remember thinking Denver Riggleman will be a really tough opponent to flip because of his appeal across lines. If I go to Nelson County but I like Denver because he’s the people’s friend. And I think that was one dynamic. But by really designing a convention to get rid of a pretty likable guy what they did is they kind of shot themselves in the foot with that campaign. That’s the starting point.
You fracture that conservative base and like I said. I worked in the Trump White House so I’ve seen that spectrum of Conservative to as they call it the establishment Conservative. Even still across that spectrum when you fracture that base it’s a jump ball. And I’ve played a lot of sports growing up so what I’ll say that in a jump ball it’s just about who is making advocacy on the issues that matter to people every single day.
You mentioned Mr. Good’s positions on some issues. And to be clear, it’s just not tenable in 2020 a real staunch anti-LGBTQ or anybody’s individual liberties issues. It’s important to support people’s ability to make personal decisions. And I think that’s important. We have to be a society that leans into those values. I think he kind of skirts around the line of kind of those statements some times.
Sometimes he’s more outspoken about being an anti-LGBTQ plus. But I that think just the same that’s going to alienate a lot of Conservatives I know who support those rights. Like Congressman Riggleman that officiated that wedding between those two people and that’s their decision. Here’s what I believe.
I believe that Mr. Good is going to have to back off that white bred biblical statement and sentiment and he’s going to have to become more moderate if he wants to win this district. And when he does that he would have to acknowledge that he shouldn’t have taken on Congressman Riggleman in the first place. They have the wrong nominee.
Fredericks: Dr. Cameron Webb is the Democrat running for Congress in the fifth congressional district. He’ll go up against Bob Good. This is a district that Riggleman won by seven over Cockburn in 2018. Tom Garrett won by 17 over Jane Darwin in 2016. So this is a very red district. Dr. Webb, you said you worked in the Trump administration. Can you elaborate on that?
Webb: I was a White House fellow in 2016 and 2017. The White House fellowship is a mid-career program to introduce folks to the highest levels of government. I’m a practicing physician. I’m an internal medicine doctor. I was finishing up my work and training and wanted to pop the hood on government some. Do some service to my country.
And it was actually at the end of the Obama administration and it was a transition year. So it’s kind of a grab bag. You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get in the latter half of the fellowship. In the first half, I worked on health care issues in the Obama administration in the White House healthcare team.
And also something called My Brothers Keeper initiative in improving the life outcomes of young boys and young men of color. It was a social justice program in the Obama administration. And so when the Trump administration came in initially they were trying to figure out what to do with me. (Chuckles)
So for the first couple of months, I kind of sat out in the hallway without much to do. But what ended up happening is I went around talking to folks and built some good relationships with people over coffee. Particularly folks in the domestic policy council in the Trump White House.
So it ended up switching from the office of cabinet affairs to the domestic policy council. Worked on the healthcare team. It was a small team. It was just three of us on the healthcare team in the Trump White House. Also worked on urban affairs and revitalization with Ja’Ron Smith he’s still there and he’s actually a senior specialist to the President I believe.
Fredericks: Actually Ja’Ron is on my show today at nine o’clock.
Webb: Oh. Tell him I said hey, he’s a good friend.
Fredericks: I will tell him. He’s a great great guy.
Webb: Actually he’s my fraternity brother and he’s one of the reasons that I made some headwinds in the Trump administration. I encourage you to ask him about me because we actually sat adjacent to each other in the Trump White House. As I say you get into the white water and you have those critical conversations that we as a nation got really good at having at the founding of our nation.
That’s what defined the constitutional convention. We have to have these difficult conversations. But we did it in the way that we had mutual respect. Even though I don’t agree with you on everything I’m willing to listen to some of your ideas and you are willing to listen to mine. We talked about criminal justice reform and the ways that our society could move forward.
And I listened to Ja’Ron’s perspective growing up in Cleveland. He listened to my perspective growing up in Boston County. Very different backgrounds. But at the same time, there was a mutual respect there. And then I also started out working on drug pricing work at the Trump administration.
Then I started working with folks from the Bush 93 administration helping to. I was in the mix. I was doing some work. And like I said, you mention Ja’Ron’s coming on. If you get a second ask him about the kind of work that I did. He was a very thoughtful guy and I’m glad that he’s still in the White House there because he’s just an outstanding guy.
Listen to the full show here: