Friday, August 3, 2012

He Wants to be Our Senator

Dr. Richard Carmona, left, talks to a US Special Forces vet of the Vietnam War during a campaign town hall at an American Legion Post in Phoenix

The political season is in full swing. The Democrats sense a chance to win a Senate seat in Arizona and they've found a fascinating candidate to make it happen.

Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, Carmona has a compelling life story. Born into poverty, he served his country in combat and rose to the highest levels of public service. He's done more for our country than many presidential candidates, past and present. 

Dr. Richard Carmona dropped out of high school and joined the Army at 17. He volunteered for Special Forces and was turned down because he didn't have a high school diploma. So he went back to high school and got his GED. Then he joined Special Forces, became a combat medic and went to Vietnam. He was awarded two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, a Combat Medical Badge and other commendations for his service in the Army.

He came home from Vietnam and stayed in the reserves. While serving in the reserves Carmona went to Community College, eventually becoming a RN. Then he went to Medical School and graduated at the top of his class and became a general and vascular surgeon. He was recruited by the Tucson Medical Center and University of Arizona and started the regional trauma center at TMC. In his spare time he was a college professor and member of the Pima County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team. 

He was tapped by President George W. Bush to serve as the Surgeon General. And when your President calls, you serve.

He returned to Tucson after his tenure in DC and decided this year to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Jon Kyl. Two Republicans are locked in a bitter primary fight for the seat - Jeff Flake, a long serving Congressman from the East Valley and Wil Cardon, a businessman who used to work with the Flake campaign. It would be unusual for Arizona to elect a Democrat to the Senate. I think the Democrats are hoping the GOP primary fight turns into a caged death match that fatally damages both candidates. That and a strong voter registration drive among Latinos could give Carmona an edge. 

I photographed Carmona's town hall meeting Thursday. There are more photos in my archive