Zach Shrewsbury says his U.S. Senate bid will ‘be a fight, but it’s a fight that has to happen’

By Matthew Young, RealWV

“This is the one election in West Virginia where we’re really still on the national stage. If you allow this election to go to Jim Justice, we’re going to fade, and never be heard from again in this country.”

That’s what Zach Shrewsbury, Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, told RealWV on Wednesday. A Marine Corps veteran and native West Virginian, Shrewsbury looks to succeed Joe Manchin as the Mountain State’s representative in Washington. 

“This is an important election,” Shrewsbury added. “You have one candidate who actually wants to help people, who understands their struggles, and is a part of the working class – that’s me. The other candidates will never be able to say the same thing.”

After completing his military service in 2015, Shrewsbury took a civic interest in communities across the United States, with his work as a political organizer eventually leading him back to his home state of West Virginia. Now, at just 32-years-old, Shrewsbury is not only the sole declared Democrat in the race to become the state’s next Senator, but the Fayetteville resident is also the youngest candidate by far. 

“Someone has to stand up for other people,” Shrewsbury said. “We don’t have that currently in our federal politics. I don’t see (Congressman) Alex Mooney, (Senator) Shelley Moore Capito, (Congresswoman) Carol Miller, or even (Senator Joe) Manchin, for that matter – none of them seem to care about West Virginians. Maybe they started out caring, but they’ve left that behind somewhere. They’ve chosen money and their own interests instead of sticking with their people here.”

Shrewsbury said he was “fed up” by the struggling, suffering, and poverty endured for years by his fellow West Virginians, and disappointed by the seeming unwillingness of anyone new to “step up.” It was those combined frustrations which prompted Shrewsbury to take action. 

Zach Shrewsbury, of Fayetteville, looks to succeed Joe Manchin as West Virginia’s next U.S. Senator.

“I decided to stand up and run myself, and we’ll see where we land,” Shrewsbury said. “I have a very pro-working class message that crosses party lines. I’m playing the long game. I’m trying to build something here. Even if I don’t take this race, I’m not done.” 

“With Manchin retiring, this is now one of the few chances West Virginia has to actually get a genuine, working class person into this office,” Shrewsbury continued. “For the longest time, we’ve had the choice of millionaires or millionaires. Now, you have a person like myself – I understand choosing between rent and groceries, gas and bills, how expensive insurance is – I get that. A lot of politicians, they come from very wealthy backgrounds and wealthy families. I come from coal miners – I come from people making ends meet.” 

“What it comes down to is I understand how things work here, and I understand what people go through,” Shrewsbury added. “We don’t have representation that actually represents people’s voices here.”

Another reason behind Shrewsbury’s decision to run for the Senate is his hope that it will motivate more younger West Virginians to follow suit. Shrewsbury said he believes that every generation must advocate for themselves, and not expect “baby boomers” to carry the complete responsibility decade after decade.

“I think we should also lower the retirement age, and protect Social Security,” Shrewsbury noted. “My parents are in their 60’s. I watch my dad – he has to worry about Social Security, and Social Security barely pays anything to survive. That bothers me.”

“Me being young, I’m trying to take the fight to the system,” Shrewsbury added. “We need younger voices who have experienced these times, and who understand what’s going on.”

In addition to his pro-labor stance and wanting to lower the retirement age, Shrewsbury is also an advocate for universal healthcare. If elected, Shrewsbury’s hope is that he can work to transition the Affordable Care Act into a system which guarantees coverage regardless of one’s ability to pay – a daunting task given today’s political climate. 

“I’m not docile, I don’t lay down, and I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to politics,” Shrewsbury explained. “I’m loud about it. If you want to roll into D.C., you have to take on the guys who have been entrenched there forever and built power and alliances. You can’t just lay down and allow yourself to be bulldozed. The way to do that is really just finding common ground with people, work the relationships where you can, and start building from there. Don’t let up.”

“I’m on a mission with this run,” Shrewsbury added. “I’m not going to be discouraged, and I’m also not going to just lay back and not be heard. It’ll be a fight, but it’s a fight that has to happen.”

As a Democrat in a state which Donald Trump carried by some 40 points in 2020, and despite his pro gun-ownership stance, Shrewsbury knows he has his work cut out for him. That work, according to Shrewsbury, begins face-to-face; by talking to voters, listening to their concerns, and asking them what they want from their elected representatives.

“On social issues, maybe we agree to disagree,” Shrewsbury said. “But on economic issues, I’ll take it right to their (voters’) doorstep. One of the first questions I ask people is, ‘How did your life change under Trump?’ Most of the time, they’ll name off some national policies. So I’ll say, ‘Not national policies – how did your life in your community change?’ Most of the time they can’t name anything because it didn’t get better for anybody here.”

“It doesn’t matter who the president is here, because West Virginia is always overlooked,” Shrewsbury noted. “We’ve been a Republican-led state for years now, and things have only gotten worse for everybody.”

“The fact that I’m even going to [the voters] and asking them their views and their opinions, saying who I am and what I’m doing, that means a lot to West Virginians,” Shrewsbury added. “I will find the people who don’t get listened to, and I’m here to advocate for them.”

For more information about Zach Shrewsbury’s campaign for the United States Senate, visit shrewsburyforsenate.com

With the announced retirement of Sen. Joe Manchin, it remains to be seen if Shrewsbury will face a challenger in the Democratic Primaries. Primary Election Day in West Virginia is Tuesday, May 14. General Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.

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