Current Position: Lawyer, Policy Director at Pitt Cyber and previously at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Candidate: 2022 US Representative for District 17
Former Position: Oficer in the Navy
Source: Campaign page
Chris is a Pittsburgh-area native, Iraq War Veteran, and voting rights attorney. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Chris served as an officer in the Navy and deployed overseas multiple times. As a lawyer, Chris worked to protect voting rights and our elections as the policy director at Pitt Cyber and previously at the Brennan Center for Justice. He was part of the Pitt Faculty Organizing Committee with the United Steelworkers, fighting successfully for a union. Chris lives with his wife, Zoë, three young children, and their dog, Yankee Doodle, in Allegheny County.
Chris received a Bachelor of Science degree with merit from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Following graduation from the Naval Academy, he was commissioned as an active-duty surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy. Chris’s military service included three deployments, including a tour of duty as a U.S. Army Civil Affairs Officer in Iraq.
After returning from Iraq, Chris received his law degree magna cum laude from Georgetown Law, and clerked for a federal judge. Chris went on to work at the Brennan Center for Justice on the Voting Rights and Election Security teams. In Chris’s latest work with Pitt Cyber, he has focused on voting rights, election security, and the intersection of technology and civil rights.
Chris’s volunteer efforts have included work with the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, pro bono legal assistance with the Veterans Consortium and for indigent tenants in Allegheny County, and service as a Naval Academy Blue and Gold Officer (mentoring and interviewing applicants to the Academy).
Democracy & Governance
Our democracy is in peril. From limitless corporate money running through our political system, to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, to Republican voter suppression efforts in Harrisburg and across the country, and gerrymandered maps that serve politicians instead of the people – we need bold action to protect and strengthen our democracy.
Chris is deeply committed to defending our democracy and freedom to vote, going back to the oath of office he first took as a 17-year old at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, through his work at Pitt Cyber and the Brennan Center to defend our voting rights and elections. He will support legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, and he knows we need to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United that opened the door to limitless corporate money in politics. Chris believes we’re all served better by impartial and fair maps, not gerrymandered ones. He won’t shy from a fight with those on the radical right who would attack our freedoms and throw out our elections in exchange for power.
Economy & Jobs
Taking on Corporate Power
For far too long, we have allowed corporations to gain unhealthy power over so much of society and our lives. Consolidation of industries has cost us jobs, stifled competition, hurt consumers, killed small businesses, and left workers without options or bargaining power. Workers have suffered under corporate power that can fire you for any reason, dictate the terms of your job, and outsource your work at the drop of a hat. Corporations (supported by the Republican politicians they fund) have lobbied hard to slash taxes and regulations, all while pouring cash into our elections and enriching themselves and shareholders through huge profits, stock buybacks, and dividends.
We have to be willing to bolster antitrust enforcement, and Chris supports efforts in Congress and the Biden administration’s plans to do exactly that. Corporations should also pay their fair share of taxes and be held to account when they kill jobs and evade taxes through outsourcing and tax dodging schemes. With their massive corporate profits and stock gains throughout the pandemic, there is no reason why big corporations shouldn’t be contributing to rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and safety net. And when corporations cut corners on safety and other rules, we should be aggressive in protecting their workers, customers, and neighbors.
Making Things Here at Home
We should be making things in this country, we should be making them with union workers, and we should be making them right here in Western Pennsylvania.
There have been policy choices in this country that Chris disagrees with, and, more importantly, that the American people never agreed to: to ship our jobs overseas, to sell the American Dream of millions of middle class families off to the highest bidder, and to make us dependent on foreign supply chains. These mistakes did plenty for corporate profits and Wall Street at our expense.
And now our country, our communities, and our families are bearing the cost of those policy choices. The American people have lost faith in our democracy. Globalization has wreaked havoc across small towns, rural communities, and big cities here in Pennsylvania. Too many families struggle to make ends meet, find good jobs, and dream about a better life for their kids.
Chris will fight hard in Washington to reverse these disastrous decisions, to bring back strong union jobs to make things here once again.
Chris believes these industries are critical, not just in the future, but right now:
Industries that pay their workers every dime that they earn and train them to earn even more.
Industries that respect the fundamental right to form and join a union.
Industries that care about the places they are located and the people who live there.
Industries that pay their fair share of taxes.
Industries that invest in new technology instead of just buying back their own stocks.
It is time to make things in America again. It is time for our government to work with domestic industries to get the job done. And it is time for Wall Street to invest in America again rather than putting profit and greed above all else. Let’s get to work.
The Union Way of Life
Chris stands with the labor movement and supports the union way of life. He has fought alongside fellow Pitt faculty members and the United Steelworkers as a member of the Pitt Faculty Organizing Committee to secure a faculty union at Pitt (the biggest union election in the country in 2021).
It’s no surprise that the radical right and their corporate backers have been waging war against unions, one of the most important tools we have to push back against corporate power. Unions have been on the defensive for decades in the face of this rising corporate power, hostile judges, and governments willing to lure companies with anti-union so-called “right-to-work” laws. We know that unionized workers earn better wages, benefits, and working conditions, and it’s long past time we make it easier for folks to form and join a union.
Chris supports the PRO Act, legislation that would reset the playing field to give workers a fair shot at forming a union and to hold employers liable when they break the law, and efforts to protect the collective bargaining and other rights of both private and public sector workers. Chris also believes we have to fight to protect hard-earned pensions, resist outsourcing of jobs, and guard against efforts to privatize our government.
Securing Your Retirement
Every American should be able to retire with dignity and security. For years, Social Security has provided a lifeline alongside hard-earned pensions and private savings. Yet as the radical right and big corporations waged war against unions, the prevalence of pension plans has fallen drastically, greatly increasing Social Security’s importance in retirement, which provides a reliable source of earned income, lifting an estimated 22 million seniors out of poverty during any given year and providing general retirement security for millions more.
But despite this success, Social Security is under attack from the right, who see one of the most successful social welfare systems in history as another obstacle in their path toward enriching big corporations and the wealthy. Republican administrations have cut taxes on corporations and the rich, including through the 1983 payroll tax income cap (which exempts the richest Americans from payroll taxes that fund Social Security). The radical right would gladly throw more seniors out on the street by raising the legal retirement age and have even tried to privatize Social Security altogether.
Chris will fight hard to protect and expand Social Security, which is so critical to the economic security every retired American has earned. For instance, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which adjusts the value of Social Security payments based on inflation, needs to be measured better to make sure that we fully capture cost-of-living for retirees. Moreover, there is an obvious, common-sense solution to increase Social Security’s available funds: removing the income cap on payroll taxes so the rich can no longer shirk paying their fair share. Ending this handout would give the program a nearly $100 billion annual increase in funding, a massive increase that would help secure millions of Americans’ retirements and keep Social Security on a steady footing for generations to come.
No More Forever Wars
During Chris’s deployment to Iraq, he saw firsthand – like too many of his fellow veterans – the consequences of a war that we never should have fought. The forever wars have cost trillions of dollars and even more in American lives. If Chris is lucky enough to serve in Congress, he will never vote to send Americans to war unless absolutely critical to our national security, and he won’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and to demand answers from those beating the drumbeat of war. And Chris will never break faith with his fellow veterans, to whom we have a sacred obligation to care for through a fully funded and staffed VA.
Health & Education
Health Care for All Americans
In the richest country in the history of the planet, it is obscene that some Americans cannot afford health care – or are stuck paying way too much for lousy care. Health care is a human right, and we cannot keep settling for an expensive, profit-driven health care system that leaves too many uninsured and under-insured. And even for those lucky enough to have health care through their job, that coverage is often too expensive and leaves people without real choice about who they can see for care. Medical bills simply should not be a leading cause of bankruptcy, as they are today. Denied claims, out of network providers, rip-off co-pays and deductibles: this system isn’t working for people.
Chris will fight to guarantee health care for every American. He supports efforts to lower the Medicare eligibility age; to expand Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing services; to allow Medicare to negotiate better prescription drug prices; to expand Medicaid coverage to home care services for seniors and people with disabilities; and to close the Medicaid coverage gap. Chris believes that health care is a human right and will work hard to expand Medicare to achieve universal coverage for all Americans.
Chris believes in a simple idea that women deserve to control their own bodies and reproductive choices: a basic human right.
With the Supreme Court poised to throw aside years of legal precedent in Roe v. Wade, we cannot allow right-wing extremists and the government to interfere with a woman’s decision about whether to get an abortion. That means we need federal action to codify the right to an abortion recognized by Roe. Chris will fight hard in Washington to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (which would protect abortion rights under federal law) and to oppose right-wing efforts in the states to eliminate abortion rights. And as someone who believes that every American should have the guarantee of good health care, Chris will work to make sure that health care includes full and meaningful reproductive coverage.
Environment & Energy
The Climate Crisis and Energy Policy
We need bold and swift action to make western Pennsylvania communities resilient to the effects of climate change and to secure our children’s future on earth. We all deserve clean air and water and strong union jobs.
To do this, to meet our climate goals to reduce carbon emissions, we need to invest in the clean energy sources of the future, protecting and creating union jobs in places like western Pennsylvania that have been keeping the lights on in this country for over a century. And to get to the future where the world is free of greenhouse gas emissions – which we must do for the sake of humanity – we have to be honest about natural gas’s role to help us get there. It is a significant source of union jobs in western Pennsylvania and a key domestic source of energy, helping us reduce dependence on imports.
We should, of course, fight for tougher environmental standards around natural gas (like methane emissions controls) and protect our public lands, but we need natural gas in our electrical grid to provide reliable baseload power while we build out capacity for non-fossil fuel sources like solar, hydropower, and wind. Eliminating domestic natural gas today would lead to more consumption of other fossil fuels, an unreliable electrical grid, more reliance on imports, or all three. And Chris is not willing to send our kids overseas to fight another energy war.
Fortunately, our region already has a major source of non-fossil fuel energy: Beaver Valley Power Station in Beaver County. It employs hundreds of union workers and provides critically reliable power to the grid. We ought to be doing everything we can to ensure that nuclear remains a key and viable part of our energy mix, especially if we strive for a future with carbon-free energy powered by solid union jobs.
Chris will never vote to kill good western PA jobs – union jobs – and go tell people to learn to code or whatever rubbish they’ve cooked up. Chris will fight for our jobs, for our air and water, and for our clean energy future with western Pennsylvania leading the way.