June 9, 2008
Mr. Van wants to go to Washington
By Tim Hussey
Quoc Van ’08L can clean and jerk-lift 300 pounds. He’s also running for Congress in Florida’s 8th Congressional District.
For Van, the son of Vietnamese immigrants and a two-time champion weight lifter, politics has been a driving force in his life for several years.
“I want to work on policies that benefit people at the macro level,” he said. “If you want to make systematic changes to help people, you have to work in the political arena.”
Van credits his parents and high school weight-lifting coach with inspiring him to run. His coach would talk about kids in Van’s high school who left school to work to help support their families.
“Sometimes at Emory we don’t realize that the education we’re getting is a luxury,” Van said. “We’re focused so much on extra rights, on civil rights. . . . For some people, free speech is not as important as being able to feed yourself. Education is the ultimate tool to alleviate criminal activity and to help develop the economy.”
To qualify for the ballot, Van had to collect more than 4,300 signatures or pay a fee equal to seven percent of the salary for the position he sought (nearly $10,000). He collected signatures.
“I made the decision to run, and I was determined to get on the ballot,” he said.
His platform has three main issues: crime, education and the economy. While his running mates for the Democratic nomination are older and more seasoned, Van said he has one thing they don’t: “I will bring innovative, new thinking to solve old problems.”
After attending Georgetown University, Van chose to pursue a law degree. He said Emory offered him the opportunity to not only study law, but to also work as a strength and conditioning coach.
“In weight lifting, you have to keep your eye on the prize. You do everything in small increments. You learn to push yourself to keep going,” Van said. “In politics, it’s the same thing. You can never look at the big number; you have to take things slowly.
“My chances of winning are really good because I am a hard worker,” he said. “I’m going to outwork my opponents. Our campaign is so disciplined. We’re going to keep chipping away.”
Despite strong opposition for the Democratic nomination and a strong Republican incumbent, Van plans to earn his party’s nomination on Aug. 26, when Floridians vote. When asked his plans if he doesn’t win, Van’s answer offers a glimpse of his future as a politician.
“I only planned on winning,” he said.
Learn more about Quoc Van’s candidacy at www.vanforcongress.com.