First-time congressional candidate Paul Perry needs something to stand out in a crowded field, and his campaign video is pretty distinctive.
Perry, 32, hopes to take on Republican Congressman Pat Meehan in Philadelphia’s western suburbs next year, and you might think the biographical story in his video was dreamed up by a campaign consultant.
“My mother was pregnant with me when she was behind bars in Montgomery County. She struggled her whole life with drug addiction,” Perry says in the video, noting that he was adopted by “two incredible parents,” both men in a gay relationship.
“So I had gay parents before it was cool,” Perry says. “They were both veterans. Paul was in the Air Force. Ken was in the Army. Both small-business owners — my dad Paul ran a small residential real estate business and Ken ran our corner store.”
Perry went to American University, got a master’s degree from Penn, and eventually a doctorate from Harvard.
In 2007 he was working at then-Sen. Barack Obama’s Washington office, when Obama decided to run for president.
“I had about four or five months to decide whether I was going to join the campaign or go teach kids in Southwest Philly,” Perry says. “And I chose to go teach kids, because to me that’s what service really meant.”
Perry taught school for two years before resuming his education and working in several educational and nonprofit organizations in San Francisco, New York, and Boston.
He’s now chasing a new dream.
Perry said he was motivated to run, in part, by the election of Donald Trump.
He thinks he has a great American story to tell, and he’s taking some bold, Bernie Sanders-like positions, including advocating for a single-payer health care system.
“I think it’s important for Democrats to not be shy about what they really want and what people frankly really need,” Perry said in a phone interview. “So whether that’s single payer or free college or a livable wage, these are things that our peer nations have gotten done, and we can too.”
Perry is starting his quest with little traditional political capital. He’s never run for office, and doesn’t have the backing of unions or known political figures.
He says he expects to raise enough money with a broad base of contributors, but his campaign finance report showed that as of June 30, he had only $10,656 on hand. Another report is due in 10 days.
One thing in his favor is that there are so many candidates in Democratic primary that he may not need a majority of votes to win.
Other announced candidates include bioengineer Molly Sheehan, state Sen. Daylin Leach, Jenkintown IT specialist Andrew McGinty, Kennett Square Realtor Elizabeth Moro, and Dan Muroff, a former congressional staffer who ran two years ago in the 2nd District.