CHARLESTON, W.Va. — According to 2nd Congressional District candidate Aaron Scheinberg, politicians have left the people of West Virginia behind. This criticism, Scheinberg told MetroNews, also applies to the Democratic Party, for which he is running for its nomination.
“The leadership really represents what most people think of the Democrats right now, which is out-of-touch, urban elites that have used identity politics as a way to get voters out and have completely forgotten our core values,” he said.
Scheinberg, a Hedgesville resident, is running for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., who began serving in office in 2015. Scheinberg said Mooney has put “corporate interests and party politics” before West Virginians.
“We don’t leave people behind,” Scheinberg said. “There are too many families, working men and women, and children in West Virginia that have been left behind. If you’re a service minded leader, you’re focused on bettering their lives.”
This is another problem Scheinberg has with Democratic leadership. Much like his primary opponent Talley Sergent, he said he would not support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to become House of Representatives speaker if Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.
“We’re not for the corporations. We’re not for the big money. We are for the everyday working men and women,” he said. “There are still Democrats who believe that and understand that.”
Scheinberg mentioned Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts as possible choices for House leadership. Moulton endorsed Scheinberg in August, and his political action committee Serve America PAC and joint fundraising committee Serve America Victory Fund have contributed to Scheinberg’s campaign.
Moulton and Scheinberg are both veterans of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Army respectively. Scheinberg said serving in Iraq taught him about the importance of bridging divides.
“I was 25 years old when I was leading and responsible for life and death of our soldiers, plus doing civic reconstruction and development for an entire nation,” he said “I built schools, water purification units, electricity grids, vocational training centers, hospitals, whatever the community needs were. No matter what you think of the war in Iraq, we made people’s lives better there.”
“Many of us came back to the Great Recession, and I still have friends who are still calling me saying civilian life sucks. And the worst part was we came back to a country that’s divided,” he added.
Scheinberg said if elected, he would like to diversify West Virginia’s economy, including taking advantage of the Eastern Panhandle’s proximity to Washington, D.C. by pitching cybersecurity jobs.
“We have to create a long-term economy for West Virginia. We have for years relied on a single industry,” Scheinberg said, referring to coal. “We need to diversify our economy in West Virginia when so many young people are leaving.”
Another issue of importance to Scheinberg is access to health care; as someone with Type 1 diabetes, he said he notices when the price of insulin increases.
“I have seen how difficult it is to navigate the private insurance system,” he said. “The VA, luckily, because I’m a veteran, supplies me with affordable insulin because they are able to negotiate with drug companies. We’ve got to lower the cost of premiums by getting more people into the system.”
Sergent’s campaign has attacked Scheinberg for his residency; he lived in New York before moving to West Virginia in early 2017.
Scheinberg said he spent his childhood in West Virginia, and his parents live near him, his wife Natasha and two-year-old daughter Emilia in Hedgesville.
“I am worried about the state of West Virginia. I’m worried about the future of our democracy,” he said. “I learned, in the military, that when you see something wrong, you stand up and you do something about it.”
Scheinberg said Sergent’s attacks are being used as a “wedge issue.”
“In Hedgesville, I live in the woods. We learned that you can be the tallest tree in the forest by building roots and working hard, or you can be the person that chainsaws trees around you,” he said.
Scheinberg said his campaign has the spark to lead the 2nd Congressional District, and he can create a movement leading up to the November general election.
“There’s a lot of need for change and desire for young leadership in West Virginia,” he said. “We’ve got to throw a spark on that kindling and we’re going to be able to take off.”