Mary Perry is the Republican candidate for Nevada’s 1st Congressional District. Photo provided by The Mary Perry Congressional Campaign.
Republican congressional candidate Mary Perry was just getting into her car to drive home when I called to speak with her for a second time on a nondescript Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve got one of those neat little trucks so that I can drive and talk hands free,” Perry assured me. Safety first.
A quick glance at her past reveals Perry to be a woman who specializes in multitasking. It traces a life that begins in a poor family in the hills of Arkansas before winding its way through eight and a half years in the Air Force, a business degree, a career as an attorney and finally two bids for public office, the most recent in progress.
Perry mounted an unsuccessful campaign for District Court Judge in 2014 and learned several important lessons from it. Paramount among them – put the people first. It’s a lesson Perry has put into practice this time around as an underdog facing a formidable uphill climb.
Perry is running in Nevada’s 1st Congressional District, which was established in 1983 and occupies most of Las Vegas as well as of parts of unincorporated Clark County. In the 33 years since, a Republican has represented it in the House for only four of those years. For her part, Perry seems undaunted by the challenge, as she has fought against adversity throughout her life.
“I didn’t even have indoor plumbing until I was eight years old,” remembered Perry. “So listening to people expecting that they deserve everything they want just handed to them, I think that’s a bunch of bull because all it takes is hard work to pull yourself out of any situation in life.”
Perry’s experiences have shaped both her outlook on life and her positions as the Republican candidate for Nevada’s 1st Congressional District, where she is facing off against Democratic incumbent Dina Titus.
“Life itself has forced me to change a lot of my views,” said Perry, who offered her stance on gay marriage as an example. “A few years ago I was sitting there going ‘no, marriage is between a man and a woman. It is a religious term and should be treated as such.’ Now, I think the government just needs to stay out of it ‘cause the more the government stays out of our business, the better off our lives are going to be and the better off this country is going to be.”
On other issues such as the Second Amendment and immigration, Perry’s views are more in line with traditional conservative values. However, she takes several positions that stand in contrast to what most would consider to be the GOP party line. Notably, she is pro-choice. On The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare as it is colloquially known), Perry favors a policy not of outright repeal, but of reform and eventual replacement.
Perry may be the underdog in this year’s campaign, but she has a history of fighting on behalf of the disadvantaged. Her time in the military was instructive to her on the importance of public service, and she has taken those lessons into her career as an attorney, where she does a good deal of pro bono work.
“While I’m not wearing the uniform anymore, I believe that God gave me a wonderful brain and made me smart enough to become an attorney and put me in a position now where I can help my fellow man,” she said.
Perry now strives to help her fellow man on a national level, and she believes she has the right ideas to make it happen.
“If you’ve got the right message, and you want to help the right people, it can be done,” said Perry. “Because the people are going to get behind you whether you’re a Democrat or Republican; if you speak to what they need and what they want.”
Perry will hit the campaign trail again in a few weeks with a series of events held at parks within her district. However, a key part of her strategy involves one on one voter outreach.
“Most voters don’t go to these events. I need to go to where they will be,” said Perry. “I enjoy public speaking, but speaking to people one on one is what really lets the people get to know me.”
Perry’s personal, moderate touch underscores a campaign, and indeed a life, that has always been people-driven. With the help of the people, Perry hopes to find herself in Washington D.C. come next January, no matter how daunting the challenge ahead might be.
“The only victory in this is by me ending up in Washington D.C. We need change in Washington D.C.,” said Perry. “The people need to be put first, and then maybe the party.”