Retired Navy SEAL and GOP congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw recently met with the Washington Free Beacon outside of Houston, Texas, to discuss pressing issues such as North Korea and the community's response to Hurricane Harvey.
Crenshaw served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he lost his right eye after encountering an improvised explosive device in the deadly Helmand province, before deploying twice more to leadership posts in South Korea and Bahrain. He will face first-term Texas State Rep. Kevin Roberts in the May 22 primary runoff for the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Ted Poe.
Crenshaw said his 2016 deployment to South Korea offers him unique insight into the events unfolding on the Korean Peninsula, where the leaders of the United States and North Korea may convene for a first-ever meeting later this month.
"It's historic … there's really no way to understate that," Crenshaw said. "Now, we're cautiously optimistic, but still, conversations like this have never taken place. That's a huge deal that now we're talking about peace and even uttering the words denuclearization. That's an enormous first step and it really speaks to the president's overall strategy."
Crenshaw said President Donald Trump's campaign of coercive diplomacy and strong-arm rhetoric combined with behind-the-scenes negotiations helped drive Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table.
"The president, the administration have done just an excellent job and we just got to keep this going," he said. "It really has the potential to be an historic event."
Crenshaw spoke to the Free Beacon during a campaign fundraiser in Magnolia, Texas, where he and other retired and active duty SEALs provided shooting instructions and tactical advice to nearly 120 supporters.
Crenshaw, who has never held public office, received his master's degree in public administration at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. In the March primary, the former SEAL came in second in the total Election Day vote count, where he took 27.4 percent of the vote to Roberts's 33 percent.
He edged out Republican mega-donor Kathaleen Wall, who outspent his campaign 60 to one, by just 155 votes in a surprise upset. Brendan Steinhauser, a political consultant for Crenshaw, said the campaign's grassroots strategy and targeting of individual voters has contributed to his success.
This approach was evident in February, when Crenshaw and members of his campaign team ran 100 miles across Texas's 2nd congressional district to raise money for reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Harvey pummeled the region. Crenshaw said the event "shows that you can get a lot done before Congress," provided you give "a little bit of leadership and some dedication."