By Ted Bordelon
Wire Managing Editor
When Kevin Strouse joined the Army Rangers two weeks after graduating from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in May of 2001, he had no idea that his decision would take him to the Middle East.
He expected to see places like Germany or Thailand, and uphold the tradition of service that extends through his father who served in Vietnam and his grandparents, two of whom served in World War II.
As he puts it, “I joined up looking for some adventure and for a way to give back to the community.”
Instead, as he wrapped up his basic training, the country was attacked on Sept. 11 and thrust into the age of the “War on Terrorism.”
By February 2002, Strouse was deployed in Afghanistan and went on to serve for three years as an Army Ranger, including multiple tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. After his time in the armed forces, he spent eight years in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the agency’s Counterterrorism Center.
Fast forward to 2013, the 33-year-old is hoping that his service to the country will pay off in his attempt to secure the Democratic nomination to run against Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) in November 2014.
Fitzpatrick, the incumbent, has held the seat for three non-consecutive terms.
“How many years of experience do you think there are in Congress right now and where has that gotten us,” Strouse said from Jake’s Eatery in Newtown when asked about his relative political inexperience. “Experience is valuable, but every now and then I think you need to try something different.”
Strouse relocated to Bensalem in March with his wife and two children. He grew up in Delaware County near Media, Pa., and has family throughout the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Strouse said that he decided to run after a first-hand experience with gridlock in Congress during his time with the CIA. A project he was working on was threatened to be cut short due to the narrowly averted government shutdown in April 2011 largely related to subsidized pap smears and Planned Parenthood.
He said that preventing such shutdown scenarios and general gridlock in Congress would be a top priority if elected.
While he doesn’t think “one human being can single-handedly change Congress entirely,” Strouse noted that he hopes to focus on issues rather than politicking if elected.
“What Congress needs is a different mindset of what they need to do and that is to govern,” Strouse said.
Strouse has received backing from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and outraised his opponent in the primary, Shaughnessy Naughton, $254,000 to $89,000.
Upon moving to the district, the Republican National Congressional Committee sent him a “welcome basket” with a note reading “Welcome to Bucks County.”
Strouse, however, thinks his Pennsylvania roots and his background make up for his relatively recent move to the district.
“I think people understand that I’ve been gone serving my country,” Strouse said. “If this is just a race about who has lived here the longest then I’m not going to be the candidate.”